Joanna Simmons is co-author of Can I Give Them Back Now: The Aargh to Zzz of Parenting (published by Square Peg on the 4th June). A mother of two small boys, these are her hard-won tips on how to manage car journeys with children safely.
Sometimes it seems that the only good thing about a car journey is that your children are physically, but legally restrained. And unless you have been particularly careless, they are safe from paedophiles/nettles/wasps/big boys who won't share.
So in some ways you can relax.
In all other ways you cannot. Car journeys with kids are rich with uncertainty. Will they sleep, not sleep, puke, mutiny on the M5?
Will you toss all sensible driving theory out of the window and find yourself taking spectacular risks, deciding that it's much better to swerve dangerously, groping behind your seat for the dropped Buzz Lightyear than to listen to a kiddie chorus of car-based cakka for the next 27 miles?
Here are three suggestions for making car journeys go smoothly:
1. Ditch the pre-kids time frame
Yes, OK, before kids you could make it from London to the Lakes in four hours, but that isn't going to happen with two under six-year-olds in the car.
So rethink your time frame and accept that it's going to take all day, numerous stops -- and possibly some unscheduled vomiting -- to get there.
2. Get techy
I know in the old days we had to make it to Cornwall with only I Spy and a packet of Opal Fruits for entertainment, but times have changed.
In-car DVD players, mini iPods and story CDs could save your life and turn out to be the best £100 you've ever spent.
3. Drive at night
Not necessarily an easy option, but just possibly easier than driving in the day. Your child will hopefully sleep, so that sidesteps all the usual car journey brouhaha that characterises most daytime excursions. What it does not sidestep is the fact that you are now tackling a long-distance drive at the time of day when you would usually be having a second glass of Rioja and thinking about a bath. Plus, it's darker than Satan's armpit out there.
Can I Give Them Back Now: The Aargh to Zzzz of Parenting by Joanna Simmons and Jay Curtis is available here from Amazon
What are your tips for keeping kids amused on long car journeys?