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A bored child in the back seat can be one of the biggest distractions when driving so a little planning and preparation can go a long way.
The key to achieving a successful and safe car journey is to stay calm, be prepared for every eventuality and avoid any pent up frustration whilst travelling.
Take the stress out of travel this summer by following these top tips.
1. Be patient. Sometimes children can drive parents potty but it is important to remain calm. Try not to fall out with your partner either. Children will mirror adult frustrations.
2. Play traditional games. Count passing cars of a certain colour. You could also try car bingo, which involves looking for things out of the window such as a cow, a caravan, a lorry etc, and seeing who can get five in a row first.
3. Make sure the technology works but don’t rely on it. A flat battery on a phone can be major disaster for today’s connected kids. Downloading TV programmes or films is a good idea to while away an hour or two but try to refrain from using this technology too early on your journey. Once they’ve used the ipad, everything else is going to seem pretty dull in comparison and if you’ve still got five hours to kill, it will take its toll.
4. Audio books. These can be a good alternative to phones, tablets and DVD players. Most books on CD have an accompanying picture book which your child can look at, at the same time the story is playing.
5. Pack for success. Make sure you have a food bag with goodies for the best behaved but avoid too much sugar as this can make children restless and therefore keen to escape the confinement of a car. Fruit and water are best. There are also snacks which are designed to take longer to eat such as boxes of raisins and bags of crisps. Also carry wet wipes and spare clothes that are easy to access within the car.
6. The right car seat will keep your child safe and comfortable. Check out the Good Egg guide http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com/ for the latest information.
7. Know your journey. The worst thing is being lost with a grumpy child in the back. Know the correct stop-off points so you know when you can take breaks, so the children can get out and stretch their legs.
8. Children need regular stops. Never go more than two hours without a stop. For very young babies too long in a car seat can be stressful, so factor this in when you plan your journey.
9. Set off early and go slow. Travelling long distances with little ones can be nightmare. If you set off early and take your time as opposed to rushing to your destination the journey will be miles smoother. But, remember driving when you would normally be asleep is a risk factor, so make sure you are fully awake by taking frequent breaks and sharing the driving.
10. Enthuse kids about their destination. It will take the edge off the journey and involve them in where you are going. Just remember not to over-promise.