The three-day weekend is upon us, and while we’re all glad to have some time out of the office, the prospect of the inevitable road trip is leaving us feeling less than relaxed.
Spending hours on the M25 having your seat kicked constantly and being required to break up fights requires the skills of a bouncer, not a parent.
Sarah McMullen, from NCT, told HuffPost UK: “If you are going away this weekend with kids you might face a bit of chaos but a little preparation and a few tricks up your sleeve can help your holiday go more smoothly.”
So instead of dreading the bank holiday, use these eight ways to keep the peace on the back seat.
1. Time your journey around nap times.
Before becoming parents you might have timed your journey around when the roads were going to be busiest, but now the NCT recommends you factor in other considerations.
They advise: “A crying baby on a long car journey can be really stressful, so try to time your journey around your baby’s nap times. Also avoid setting off when your child is too full or you may be cleaning up vomit on the hard shoulder.”
2. Take snacks.
Choose snacks that can be made to last a long time like raisins or a banana.
And don’t torture yourself by handing out sugary treats at the beginning of the journey (at least wait till you are near grandmas house and she can deal with them).
3. Download audiobooks.
You might be satisfied listening to the radio, but if you don’t want to have to put on the Frozen soundtrack for five hours, you might want to give them their own devices and separate headphones (sharing is asking for trouble).
4. Download TV progammes.
There are always going to be some parents who prefer not to hand out electronic devices or tablets as a distraction, but if you fancy some time not having your ear talked off, you might want to have some programmes to hand to keep them entertained for 20 minutes.
5. Take frequent breaks.
It is tempting to try and do the whole journey in one sitting just to get it over with, but taking frequent breaks is important to get some fresh air, have toilet stops and stretch your legs.
Try and encourage them to walk around in the car park and tire them out.
6. Play word games.
‘I Spy’, word association and twenty questions might seem outdated but they are a good way to start conversation and sharing stories. You never know what you might get on to.
7. Give them a camera.
If you’re going away for a long weekend, chances are you’ll be taking a camera with you anyway. And kids love taking photographs. Let them play around with it and give them a list of things to try and capture, like animals and road signs. You can always delete them all at the end.
8. Take a spare set of clothes.
You never know what might happen, and if your children are prone to travel sickness, the last thing you want is having to sit with that in the car for hours.
The NCT says: “Take some spare clothes for yourself as well as your child so you’re prepared if you both end up covered in sick or poo.”