Mother: only one word, so many meanings. Whether you are a working mum or a stay-at-home mum, your jobs and tasks are endless and don’t lack in variety. Caregivers, cooks, cleaners, psychologists, chauffeurs, doctors, managers, hairdressers, dieticians, accountants, teachers, waitresses, maids and nurses are just few of the roles we take on daily.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day, we just don’t have enough arms to handle all the things we have to do. However, what we mastered is improvisation and lateral thinking, so let’s put that multitasking brain of ours to work, and figure out how to keep our sanity!

Being in the car with children can even drive the most zen mom you know crazy! And that is when they aren’t hungry, tired, sleepy, bored or upset. Children don’t like spending lots of time sitting still in a car or anywhere else for that matter. Some children feel agitated even during short car journeys and if you have babies in the car then you have really learned the true meaning of patience!

It doesn’t, though, have to be this way. If you choose to view car trips in a more positive way you’ll discover that they offer great opportunities for some family bonding. Especially when your children are a bit older, being together in the car is a great chance for discussions and much needed family quality time.

You must be wondering then.. How can I make  time spent in the car with my children enjoyable and not unbearable? Well, this is how:

Make sure you always have a toy bag in the car. They always come in handy when your children get bored or agitated. IF you are going to be travelling long distances you can even ask them to bring some books with them or their drawing gear.

Always have a blanket or more with you in the car. I can’t even count how many times this simple idea saved me from meltdowns. When you have babies, bringing their favourite blanket along can be soothing when they feel sleepy. For your older children it’s so needed when in longer journeys they want to rest or feel cold.

Invest in an mp3 player and headphone sets. When I am in the car with my children we listen to the same playlist and we all sing together (most of the times). If your children, though, prefer to listen to different types of music or they want some time without listening to you and daddy talk, then an mp3 player is a great idea.

More importantly, you can download fairy tales on them, educational audio recordings, and anything else that your child would be interested in.

Play games. Your children are bound to get really bored at some point and in need of attention. But the thing is, that it doesn’t take much to entertain children. Be creative, make up stories, take turns in talking about a specific thing/experience, play a ‘I spy with my little eye’ game or anything else you can come up with. 

Set the car rules before you get in the car. Paying attention on how our children feel and think and treating them with respect and consideration always pays off and it’s the right thing to do. Before you get in the car for a long trip, sit down for an informal family meeting and explain some things

Talk about how dangerous it could be for all of you if the driver loses attention by very loud noises and arguments, that car seats are compulsory, how the car is not a place to jump in, how much relaxing fun you could all have and even make a deal on possible treats to award good car behavior.

Clearly explain the consequences of breaking these rules and make sure you and your partner follow them too.

Avoid the ‘who will sit where’ argument. Before you even get in the car, the seat allocation will have been already discussed and confirmed. If your children are under 13 years of age then they will each already have their car seats/boosters installed and everyone will know where they are seating.

Never, ever, ever forget the snack bag!  For the sake of staying sane, please always remember to pack fruit, snacks, water and juices. You can make this bag as healthy as you want it to be.

You can trick your children into eating healthier by making smiley faces out of light sandwiches, cut carrots and apples into different shapes and make your own less sugary juice rather than the one from the supermarket.

If you are going on a long journey and you have some free time a few days before, invest it into making your own healthier biscuits and cookies. You can get your children involved too!  Remember that having something to munch on acts as a mood booster for children (and also adults)!

When the children are arguing in the car… be firm. Arguments are not to be tolerated in the car because they can also cause accidents.

If you can’t calm things down by talking, then pull over at the first possible chance and tell your children that you will not start again until they apologise to each other, or stop the arguing.

Even if you feel frustrated, remember that if you also lose control and start shouting or getting upset you will be  giving them a bad example of how to behave in distressful situations. Try to stay calm and focused… aka: the adult in this situation.

Make it fun. How you feel and behave will greatly influence your children’s mood. Although you can’t always force yourself to feel happy, try to stay positive and excited during your car trip. Besides it won’t last forever and a more pleasant attitude will benefit you, your partner and your children.

  • Do you have any other tried and tested tips for an easier time during car trips? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
All wonderful moms around the world – relax!! Rome wasn’t built in a day and you cannot fit a 70 hour schedule in the same day either! I promise I will provide you with some very practical ideas and tips to make your parental life  easier and you feeling more chilled out and loosen up. Till next time.

 

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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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