If you must embark on a long car journey with children, first of all, my advice is….don’t do it. But if you absolutely must, here are the 10 things you should never consider doing.
10 things not to do on a long car journey with small children
- DO NOT attempt to negotiate with a toddler who refuses to sit in their car seat as you embark on your journey. He/she has perfected that ironing-board manoeuvre for some time and you will simply have to wait until a brief moment of surrender before you can secure them into their seat (if you’re strapped for time, a gentle karate chop to the midriff usually does the trick).
- DO NOT leave the house without a bag the size of a small car containing snacks, stickers and surprise items for the journey. Our ‘suitcase’ of Starbursts, bananas, biscuits, Lego Minifigures and other kid paraphernalia saw us through (for an hour).
- DO NOT consider a long trip without some form of in-car entertainment. This could be a tuneful personal rendition of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ for five hours OR it could be something rather more ear-friendly. Our latest expedition was helped by an inspired purchase of the very
bestcheapest car DVD players from Argos. If you’re lucky a DVD will kill one additional hour of time after the sweets have been obliterated.
- DO NOT be surprised if, even after a short amount of time, at least one child tells you they need to stop for the toilet. And of course, UK Service Stations were just invented to be sympathetic to families with their overpriced food, taunting toy-grabber machine thingies and inviting Krispy Kreme merchandising (my Achilles heel).
- DO NOT be surprised when, after said overpriced, over-indulgent Service Station pit stop, your resumed journey is interrupted by the smell of something whiffy coming from the general direction of your toddler’s freshly-changed nappy. Cue the ‘for pity’s sake, why does he always do this?’ argument.
- DO NOT tell yourself you might be able to rest/sleep/read/relax for any part of the journey. Upon reaching child Boredom Level 5-6 you may find yourself exclaiming in your most excitable voice: ‘Look – there’s a [insert word here] CAR! LORRY! BUS! WINDMILL! TREE! RAINBOW!’ (This plan slightly backfired for us – when our toddler decided to shout ‘RAIN-BUM!’ at the top of his voice for the final 90 minutes of our journey).
- DO NOT gaze longingly at the massive black leather-look coin-operated massage chairs at the next Service Station. They are not for you. (Erm – why exactly do they have those? And have you EVER seen anyone use them?)
- DO NOT attempt to settle any child-related brawls whilst driving. It’s dangerous. And besides, your husband/wife/partner drew the short straw. They will therefore have to spend most of the journey in a permanent figure-of-eight body twist to adjudicate any disagreements, demand that the sweets are shared and repeat for the sixteenth time that they are unable to put another DVD on.
- DO NOT rip off the children’s sun blinds from the back car windows in sheer frustration and throw them in the foot well whilst having a mild parental meltdown. Yes, your children have pulled them up, down, up, down at least 99 times. But apparently, it’s not acceptable parental behaviour. Especially not to other happy families in their lovey clean cars (with tinted windows).
- DO NOT resort to half-chewing the remaining two Starbursts and sticking them in your ears as make-shift earplugs. Yes, you might have reached Boredom Level 26 but it’s fine to turn up the radio to drown out the ‘I’m bored’ or ‘Look Mummy – RAIN-BUM!!’ cries.
And finally, I sincerely hope that your trip is worth the excruciating journey. Because you’ve got the whole return trip to look forward to!
Good luck my friends.