Do you have plans for a much-needed family holiday? Perhaps a trip to the coast to paddle in the sea and soak up the sunshine is exactly what you all need? Or maybe it’s time for a long overdue visit to reunite the children with their doting grandparents. We all need a break occasionally, and it’s important that you and your loved ones take the opportunity to relax and unwind for a few days.
With the government advising against non-essential foreign travel for the time being, so many of us will be enjoying our holidays closer to home. And there’s nothing wrong with that – the UK is blessed with some beautiful ‘staycation’ or picnic spots – but your preferred destination may not be right on your doorstep.
If that’s the case, the thought of a long drive with your little ones in the back may not be your idea of a soothing start to your holiday. But have no fear – here are a few tips to help you keep the kids busy in the car.
Distract them to avoid motion sickness
Break up the trip
Pack a toy chest
Watch a movie
Play travel games
Listen to music
Download kid-friendly apps
Even the most exciting holiday can be disrupted by unpleasant car sickness, caused by repeated movements when travelling. Some children are more sensitive to motion than others, but the pattern can change depending on their age and situation.
There are a few activities you can use to prevent motion sickness in children:
· Focus on things outside the car. Invite your child to look at things outside the car rather than focusing on books, games, or screens. If your child naps, try travelling during the nap time.
· Snack small but often. Avoid having large meals immediately before or during the car journey. If your child needs something to eat, offer them a light snack and a drink half an hour before travelling and then top up in very small quantities during the trip.
· Provide plenty of fresh air. Keeping a car cool and well-ventilated helps to prevent motion sickness.
· Distract your child. Try to distract your child with singing, listening to music or talking. Guessing games are great in those situations.
For journeys of any extended length this is highly recommended, as it gives you a chance to stop, stretch your legs, visit the toilet and potentially hand over the driving duties if you’re travelling with a partner. You may not even need to refuel – if you’re behind the wheel of something like a Mini Countryman Cooper S E or a Volkswagen Golf GTE you’ll enjoy superb efficiency and range – but making a stop is still important, especially if you’re struggling with keeping the kids occupied.
A handy tip is to plan your stops in advance and let the little ones know when you’ll be taking a break. That way, if they’re getting bored in the back they have something to look forward to. You can also placate them by scheduling your rests for service stations that offer plenty of activities and games to keep kids busy, so they’ll be happy and you’ll earn a period of well-deserved peace and quiet. It’s win-win!
Of course, you can’t stop every time one of the children gets a little bit stroppy, otherwise you’d never get there! But there are still plenty of things to do to keep kids busy in the car and bringing some of their favourite toys along for the ride can be a huge help. If you’re driving the likes of a VW Tiguan or a Toyota Corolla, this is where the extra space in the rear comes in incredibly handy.
Your little ones will need ready access to their treasure chest of toys, so it’s no good stashing them away in the boot, and you can even encourage them to pack the boxes themselves (with your supervision, of course). Things such as dolls, Lego and colouring books can help to keep kids busy in the car for long periods, so it may be well worth sacrificing some of your storage space.
You may find that even playing with some of their favourite toys only captures your children’s attention for so long and sometimes, you need a foolproof back-up plan. It may not be everyone’s idea of hands-on parenting, but having the option of putting on a film and keeping the kids occupied with some of their much-loved characters can prove a godsend during long car journeys.
A lot of family SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne and the BMW X5 offer the option of including rear-seat entertainment systems. When you’re tearing your hair out over how to keep the kids busy in the car, you may find it was well worth the investment – the hardest part might be deciding which film to watch!
After all, it wouldn’t be a road trip without them! There are plenty of games to keep children busy in the car, and you can encourage everyone to get involved to make it a fun family activity to help pass the time. They can be educational, too – such as the alphabet game, where you take it in turns to name things like animals beginning with all the letters from A to Z.
And who can forget eye spy? Cars like the Jaguar F-Pace and the Audi Q5 offer trim options that include a panoramic sunroof, so you and the little ones in the back can really make the most of taking in your wider surroundings. Keeping children busy during long journeys doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful – all it takes is a little imagination and a sense of adventure.
There are few better feelings than driving down the motorway or along a winding country road and belting out some of your favourite hits – even if you are a little out of tune! Listening to music is a great way to keep kids busy in the car, and it’s something you can all enjoy together. These days, the likes of Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz all boast top-of-the-range sound systems, so you and the little ones can really lose yourselves in a family singalong.
To make sure it’s fair, you can take it in turns to choose the songs or the artists, which means everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. From Peppa Pig for the younger audience to Dire Straits for daddy’s generation, all tastes can be accounted for and it’s one of the best ways of keeping kids occupied for extended periods on the road.
There are plenty of online car games for kids and they can access hours of fun thanks to the range of child-friendly apps that are readily available. These apps can be educational and interactive, encouraging your little ones to join in and learn a few things along the way, while there are plenty of audiobooks out there to transport them away from the back of the car to a land filled with fantasy and adventure.
Alternatively, there is plenty of video content aimed at children on platforms such as Netflix and YouTube, and you can set up parental controls with Kids Place to ensure they don’t stumble across anything that could be inappropriate.
The above are just some ideas for things to do to keep kids busy in the car. You might find that not all of them work for you and your loved ones, but all it takes is a little creativity to transform the journey from hell into some quality time together as a family.
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