17/11/2010 22:49 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Dilemma Of The Day: Should We Drive To Visit The Family At Christmas?

Q: I am dreading Christmas Day again already. We seem to spend all the holidays driving to my parents and driving to my in laws. The kids hate it in the car and constantly argue. I want to stay at home and relax but I know it would disappoint everyone else.

A: Do you go away every year on Christmas Day? There's no law saying you can't stay at home for a change.

There may be some immediate disappointment or upset, but I would hope that everyone would understand if you explained you fancied doing something different this year.

I know that everyone thinks that Christmas is 'for the children', but you have to think about yourself too sometimes; there's no reason for you to be a martyr.

If you're truly unhappy at the usual routine it won't be a fun time for anyone else either.
However, I guess you'll still have to do the visits at some other point during the holidays so the long car journeys are still a problem.

Maybe you could consider taking it in turns visiting one set of grandparents on Christmas Eve and one on Boxing Day to split the travelling into more manageable segments.

Next, let's tackle the children getting bored in the car. Maybe you could have a special Christmas stocking each year that is only to be opened on the journey. You will want to fill it with lots of small toys and games suitable for their ages.

Perhaps a little etch a sketch, a Rubik's cube, a pack of cards, or mini versions of simple board games.

A few snacks will pass some time as well. Have you tried singing along to CDs with nursery rhymes or songs from their favourite films? Or an audio book CD?

If they are not prone to car sickness they could spend some time looking at a picture book, or a puzzle book if they are a little older.

There are lots of games that might honestly bore you after twenty seconds but they could keep your children quiet for 10 minutes so they are worth a go! Try the old favourite 'I Spy' for a start.

Finally, remember that staying at home might create new stresses if you are going to have to cook Christmas dinner...