The combination of long hours, confined space and young children can make car trips a trying occasion. But they also give families the opportunity to bond and create memories for a lifetime. Some of the funniest stories and best memories my own grown-up children have today come from the many holiday car trips they went on as youngsters.
Today, mini-DVD players and iPods are probably number one on the list of car trip entertainment. Although they’re an easy way to keep kids entertained and ensure peace in the car, their use largely prevents parents using car trips as an opportunity to strengthen family bonds, extend sensory stimulation for growth and development and build lasting memories.
Make the trip an experience in itself: the destination is not the main event; it is just a part of it.
Prepare for your trip by visiting discount outlets and buying up appropriate toys, books, scrap book and other items. Have these in a different bag. Pack lots of healthy snacks in resealable bags with names and for drinks, fill several small bottles or pop tops with water. Avoid juice, cordial or energy drinks to avoid over-stimulation and dehydration. Pack all these in an esky and have it near to where you sit. It is helpful to set the scene before you get in the car: believe it is going to be fun, enjoy the preparations and plan your stops. Let your children know how many stops there will be.
Here is a list of ideas for trips by veteran family travellers:
1. Plan to stop every 1 ½ hours. Pick somewhere with swings or where the kids can run around for ½ hour.
2. Eat food going along leaving the breaks for playing and collecting items for their scrap book. Hand out drinks and real food snacks regularly. Reduce illness and challenging behaviour by making good choices.
3. Scrap book the journey along the way (use leaves, biscuit wrappers, photos or whatever you like).
4. Bring out a toy after each stop or when the kids are really restless.
5. Have a car organiser or bag strapped to the back of the seat with books, pens and toys. Use a lap table.
6. Sing-a-long to music.
7. Spot a specific coloured car.
8. Spot a specific make of car.
9. What does that cloud look like?
10. Play When I grow up I want to be...?
11. Listen to story CD’s with or without a read-along story (you can often borrow these from the library).
12. Tell stories. One starts and another continues.
13. Watch out for and spot animals.
14. Make words and phrases from number plates (e.g. MNG “My Naughty Giraffe”).
15. I Spy with my little eye something beginning with... (Our longest game was when our daughter had something starting with ‘W’, which turned out to be ‘R’oad!)
16. Have your mp3 player and earphones handy loaded with your music for when things get so bad you have to retreat.
Make the experience of your trip last a lifetime. Safe travelling and remember the car can be detailed when you get back.
Healthy food ideas here
This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children. For more online resources visit http://www.settlepetal.com