THE HOLIDAY season usually isn’t complete without at least one or two long car trips with the family.
But parents everywhere know the struggle of traveling with tantrum-throwing kids in tow – but there are some clever ways to avoid the tears (from mum and the kids).
It’s no secret little ones get bored while strapped into the back seat, but seasoned mum, Parent Coach and Early Years Expert, Sophie Pickles, has some tricks up her sleeve.
The ultimate trick comes down to WHEN you load up the car and head off into the distance, and the secret she says is traveling at night.
We know what you’re thinking, dragging the kids out of bed in the middle of the night to take them for a drive, sounds bonkers, right?
But according to Sophie, “there’s nothing more relaxing” and she explains why.
“Having traveled long distances with my own children as they have progressed from babyhood to toddlerhood and beyond, my number one car travel tip has to be to try and travel at night,” she tells Fabulous.
“There is nothing more relaxing for all parties involved and it makes for much smoother (and more peaceful!) journeys.”
This is mostly because the kids can sleep in the car, and they won’t have trouble doing so.
But she suggests keeping to their routine as much as possible and set off just before the kids’ “normal bedtime.”
“We often do bathtime, story and pjs before climbing into the car. Keep the noise at a minimum and take advantage of the dark winter evenings. You could even add some white noise if you wish,” she explains.
“When you reach your destination, simply transfer your child to their bed and let them continue to sleep the night away. I promise that it really is that simple!”
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Sophie, who’s teamed up with baby brand Munchkin, insists that babies, and young kids, need routine so it’s no wonder because journeys can be “disruptive and straining” on the whole family.
“They will be much more prone to fits of crying and meltdowns because they’re now in an unfamiliar environment,” she explains.
“New places, new settings and new people can even affect tiny little babies. There is a lot of sensory stimulation, which can be incredibly over-stimulating and parents can end up with babies they cannot calm down.”
But if middle-of-the-night car trips don’t work for you, Sophie has devised a list of other tips that could help mums and dads – and they really couldn’t be simpler.
To occupy young kids, holding a bubble wand to the central air vent in the car to create bubbles can be a great way of passing some time.
But be sure the bubbles aren’t directed at the driver and that they blow directly into the passengers in the back.
If you’re all about routine, try to time your journey so it coincides with nap time.
“Babies are out of their normal routine when traveling and this can cause disruption and restlessness” Sophie explains.
“Venturing out in line with their usual nap routine can make things easier all round.”
Create a treasure bag
Kids lose interest in toys eventually but try creating a “treasure bag” full of some they’ve never seen before.
According to the parenting expert, this will “create interest and intrigue”.
She says: “It’s a good idea to pull these out of the bag every half hour and give them to children so they can explore the textures, feels and smells of the toy – it will be a great distraction.”
Some good ideas are spoons a hairbrush or even a spice jar filled with rice – the more obscure and colorful the better.
Mirror their sleep environment
It’s important to replicate what you do at home, as much as possible – whilst traveling and while on holiday.
Babies might sleep for two hours at home in the cot, but this might change to only 40 minutes in the car.
Sophie suggests creating a dark environment for them using a sunshade or which will block the sun creating a cosier environment.
For babies, you can also take a white noise machine and attach it to their car seat.
And don’t forget things like a sleeping bag so you can dress babies like they’re going to sleep.
Create mess-free snacks and drinks
If you’re heading off on a relatively long journey, then it’s important to think about snacks – always.
But be sure to feed them food that won’t leave a mess for you to clean up once they’re done.
Try things like dried cheerios, raisins or bananas, and for drinks, always have a spill-proof cup which is perfect for those bumpy roads.
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