Ah, the joy of transporting the troops during the summer holidays. Road works, slow moving vehicles and sheer volume of traffic can ensure that even the shortest distance can end up being a long car journey.
So how can you ensure your little troopers are entertained (bearing in mind that under-entertained troopers can go from being little allies to the disgruntled enemy very, very quickly)? Follow these tips to find out.
Top Tip: The car is one place where interactive is not always best. Your number one concern is the safety of your troopers. Mute noisy toys, and refuse to play a game that is (or end a game that has become) distracting when driving.
Tips for Baby Troopers (BTs)
- There are some excellent interactive toys available that can easily attach to the car seat, but beware, too many can be over stimulating. If you cannot actually see your BT due to the huge amount of brightly coloured toys dangling between you, there's too many.
- Talking and singing are great activities for BTs as they love the sound of your voice, and it helps them get to grips with learning the language. Don't worry if your singing voice isn't X Factor quality - BTs (and older troopers) are a very forgiving audience.
- Listening to music, the radio and audio books in the car is also a good activity for BTs, and allows you to concentrate on the task at hand.
Some things that you need to be mindful of when transporting BTs:
- It is not good for a BT to be strapped in to a car seat or pushchair for long periods of time. Take breaks every two hours or so on long car journeys.
- The motion of the car has legendary qualities when it comes to lulling BTs to sleep. But be aware that if they get their sleep quota in a moving car, chances are they won't settle down to sleep at bedtime.
Tips for Mobile Troopers (MTs)
- 'Spotting games' are an excellent activity for all passengers and can be changed to suit the season: 'spot the Christmas trees' 'spot the flags' and this summer, 'spot the sun'. The most popular one in our car is 'Mini Cheddar'. Players get 5 points for a yellow car, 10 points for a Mini and 25 points for a yellow Mini (a Mini Cheddar). The first one to 100 wins. Only allow one 'unconfirmed' sighting in every game, or your MT will gain superhuman qualities of sight: sighting yellow Minis down every side street.
- Books are a great choice for older MTs who can describe what they are looking at and 'read' to you or other passengers.
- Electronic toys can be entertaining, but make sure that they are not distracting to you. If they are, either mute them before the journey begins, provide earphones for your older MTs, or leave them back at base camp.
Some things that you need to be mindful of when transporting MTs:
- Your MT will love to throw objects as far as their strength allows. This can prove dangerous and distracting in a moving vehicle. Never give your MT a ball in the car and avoid other toys that could potentially become missiles (the list is surprisingly long).
If you have any top travel tips that you could share with me, or other Commando Dads, please share them with us on the Commando Dad forums.