4 April 2013

Dare I Hope?



Image courtesy of The Daily Mail
Have you ever pulled up alongside a car at a motorway service station and as you witness the family push and shove their way out of the car, hurriedly look away out of embarrassment?  Have you pitied the poor parents, desperately trying to ignore the three kids arguing over who ate the last sweet and thanked God that your kids don't behave like that? 

That family, my friends, was probably us.  




I am not too proud to admit that we have never mastered long car journeys.  In fact, within 10 minutes of leaving home, some kind of rumpus has usually kicked off. We have tried everything:  lollipops (they take a long time to eat and keep the mouth busy); audio books (preferably one that is at least 7 hours long); portable DVD player (a film to suit all children is difficult to find); games (why do we play eye spy on a motorway when 'g' for grass, 't' for tree and 'c' for car are pretty much the only words available?!); staring at people in neighbouring cars and making up stories about their lives (if we reach that game, we are getting desperate!).

As regular readers will know, we have just returned from a rather freezing weekend away in a yurt farm.  This yurt farm happened to be in the middle of Wales and 5 hours from our home.  For an entire week before, the journey was the thing I was dreading the most. Not the fact that the weather forecasters were talking of frost and the coldest Easter on record, but the fear that we may not arrive unscathed after 5 hours cooped up in a vehicle with no way of escape.  I did the usual - stocked up on sweets, charged up their DS consoles, rented an audio book from the library, packed plenty of drinks and prayed hard for patience!

Now it may have been thanks to small screens and headphones or perhaps our 7-seater car which enabled us to arrange the seats so that no bodies were physically touching one another, but whatever the reason, a miracle occurred. I don't think that anyone shouted, pinched, kicked or bit any other family member for the entire journey.  In our house, this is most definitely a moment to be celebrated!

I know that the parenting books continually tell us that 'everything is a phase' and that 'they will grow out of it' but 11 years is an incredibly long 'phase' - do I dare hope that we might have finally reached beyond it?  This summer, we are planning to drive across France with three bikes, luggage for a fortnight and our sanity in tact - I do hope that this wasn't a one off!

How do your children behave on long car journeys? Have you got any tips for readers that I haven't already tried?

I am linking this post up with Mummy from the Heart's R2BC linky because if ever there was a reason to be cheerful, this is it! Please click here to read other bloggers' cheerful posts this week.


Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

42 comments:

  1. My secret is electronic devices, no sweets and only water to drink! Well it works for us.

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    1. I had never considered that drinks and sweets/snacks might be the cause of bad behaviour in cars - what was I thinking?!

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  2. I feel your pain!! As the eldest of seven I used to HATE long car journeys. Having only one has it's benefits - Grace has no one to fight with ;), although we do have continual interruptions! X

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    1. 7?! Blimey, how did they find a care big enough?!

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    2. Somehow they did!! We had a 3 row citroen and then a Toyota Previa. Thank you for linking this post to PoCoLo and for your valued support xx

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  3. We've 7 children and 2 years ago took the lot to Legoland in Denmark. It takes almost exactly 24 hours each way, although we stopped for 3 nights each way to break it up.
    They were remarkably well behaved and I can only think that it must be due to the fact that every Friday and Sunday night we drive a 2 hour round trip to drop off one or other of mine with their father, so they're all used to a regular, but not everyday, long boring journey.
    We never attempt more than 2 1/2 hours without a stop unless they're asleep and when we stop everyone can get out and we don't expect to be back on the road for at least 50 minutes. Gives them long enough to feel they've been out of the van! :D

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    1. You are brave, that is all I can say!

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  4. I have just "survived" a 7 hour journey to Devon over the bank holiday weekend. It was testing at times .... especially when you hear the sound and then smell the scent of a full nappy!!!

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    1. Ooh yes, a 'ripe' one is always fun on a long car journey ;)

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  5. We are planning our first long car journey in June, 12 hours to the South of France so when this popped up on my blogroll I was hoping for some wonder tips! Guess it's just, take a variety of activities and hope for the best then :oD

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    1. 12 hours?! I imagine our summer journey to be about 6 hours....that's bad enough. I would suggest regular stops and plenty of gadgets on board!

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  6. DVDs are the only way! We have a player which does two separate films :) we drove to Bristol without it the other day (40 miles). Remembered why the idea of 'driving to Disneyland Paris' is a really flipping silly one!

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    1. Wow, I need that DVD player!

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  7. We are going to try our first long car journey this Summer and I am dreading it! I am going to get a DVD player and hope for the best but it will be a lot easier having just one child. When I was a child my parents used to drive through the night so we would sleep - we were THAT bad :-)

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    1. So it's not just us then?! We have considered driving through the night but quite honesty, I'm not convinced they would sleep"

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  8. I hate journeys in the car, good luck with France ;) x

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  9. We did and still do Cornwall every year and the only way it worked was keeping them up late the night before, setting off at 4am, hubby and I up at 3,car already completely packed, make up some BLT's and then kids in car with pillows,duvets and still in PJ's. They then slept until about 7-8 if we were lucky. Stop off as soon as we had to then for a brekkie, get them dressed and then they were allowed water, no sweets or fizzy drink until we arrived. It was a 5 hr ish journey instead of 7-8 at that time in the morning. I also made up paper games on little personalised clip boards, spot 25 yellow cars, green blue etc. Police cars, fire engines, 20 sheep, 6 funny men, trying to make them look for entertaining things.

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  10. That is great news - hope it definitely lasts for you! I dread long journeys and we avoid them as much as we can (J especially doesn't cope well) - last year we had wales and then a couple of weeks later cornwall (both take about 5 hours for us) and I vowed never to do such a long journey again. Having said that we tried out the driving through the early hours of the morning and late at night journeys and that seemed to help. I learnt my lesson about lollipops one summer a few years ago - it was the only way to get J to sit still at any point during the day but only a few lollipops later one of his teeth was rotten away completely (thankfully milk tooth - but still came as a shock). xxx

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    1. Wow, that's not cool about the lollipops :( I do think that travelling either early or late is definitely a good move. However, I think we may be coming out the other side....

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  11. DVD players saved my sanity on 7 hour drives to visit family! They each had their own so no arguing over movie choice either.

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    1. My poor kids had one between 3! It was one of the original versions too so didn't ever work brilliantly. Having said that, we never had DVDs in cars when we were young so really, we should be able to improvise (back to eye spy then!)

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  12. I am only just embarking on longer journeys with small person. remembering it as a child - we just did it - singing songs, playing memory games, I could never read in a car as I got very car sick.

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  13. Car journeys aren't too bad for us (but only as DS is only young) but we are That Family in the supermarket. I dread the food shopping and always hope someone else's toddler will kick off!! Must start online shopping really!

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  14. Been great to reads everyones tips, we have a long car journey coming up. Glad you survived@

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  15. You're certainly not alone on this one! Well done for putting a 'tick' next to another one. One less to go now! xx

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  16. Sounding familiar and so pleased you had a good trip. Enjoy the next!

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  17. Fab that you have now experienced a good car trip, finally! Little A is pretty good in the car - maybe because it's only her, but we do out best to ply her with books and story DVDs - Younger Dad's iPad comes in helpful too! X.

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  18. We did a 24 hour boat crossing and then a 12 hour drive down through Spain to my parents when Monkey was 3 months old. I dread the idea of repeating that experience now he's a little boy. My husband is all for it - so I think I might fly and meet them there! #PoCoLo

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  19. Have you come across a CD called 'Hello Children Everywhere'? It works like sleeping gas in our car. Mind you, ours are 3 and 1, so perhaps older children might not be similarly lulled by the likes of Pinky and Perky.... x

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  20. Oh this made me laugh i'm so thankful I don't drive..Having said that we are facing a train journey from cornwall to cambridge in June which doesn't fill will me with happy thoughts!! x

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    1. Wow, now that's a long way! I would be having distinctly unhappy thoughts!

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  21. Glad it was a more pleasant journey! its normally me biting and upsetting everyone else, i hate long car journeys!

    P.s I am only joking about the biting! lol

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  22. We normally holiday in this country and so it usually involves a long car journey. Our saviours are most definately the iPad, ds, a mini picnic and also we do tick charts for things they have to spot on the way. We also play first one to spot and I went to the supermarket and bought a-z. The worst part for us is that our eldest gets travel sick! Not good! Xx #PoCoLo

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  23. Only last week I was trapped in a car with a screaming baby and a whingey four year old. I have no advice, but I wanted you to know that I feel your pain! Ugh....;)

    Kate
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

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  24. No tips but this did make me laugh! Looking forward to reading about the yurt...

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  25. Long car journeys certainly test the patience and ingenuity of any parent. We rely on audio CDs and Usborne Things to Do on Journey cards which are brilliant, plus food (though no sweets apart from when they were the age when you DIDn't want them to fall asleep at the wrong time so lollipops were ideal!) and stops. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to DVD players and stuff as I really feel its imp for kids to look out, observe and see where they're going. Ok, for anything longer than a 4 hr journey i think they're a total saviour, but for less i think we need to be careful not to always be entertaining our kids. They need to learn to occupy themselves/be bored. We've made up the game of coming up with teh funniest sentence using the letters on the car reg plates around us. When we did a mammoth journey to south Brittany aged 4 & 6 we relied on audio CDs and it did work honest. Mind you we only have 2. I can imagine 3 is far harder and so I may not think the same if we had more, or if we had different temperament kids - its always down to what your kids are like, and so best not to compare, and do what's right for your family. So, forget what I said about DVD players if you need your sanity and just tell me I'm an annoying yummy mummy!

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    1. I'm a huge fan of the audio CD too Siobhan, it worked brilliantly for us and involves them using a spark of imagination. Our journey was over 5 hours but we made it without a DVD player (chucked those out about 5 years ago cos they never worked brilliantly for us) just phones and an ipad/ds!

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  26. So glad the journey went well, we did 5 hrs this last weekend and it was not too bad. I had bought a couple of cheap consoles for the journey and charged them up with game apps and films. probably my little ones favourite part of playing eye spy though and JJ loves those little 'spotter' books, you know where you get points for spotting things like red tractors etc!

    Mich x

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    1. Not heard of 'spotter books' - sound like a fab idea!

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  27. Yes, yes, yes and yes! My only tip... turn the radio up ;0)

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    1. Oh when they do start Amy, the radio gets turned up to full volume!

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  28. I can only wonder how my parents did a trip to Devon with me and my brother (6 years age gap). We would argue before getting to the end of the road...and they didn't have any audio equipment or DVD players (think back to the mid -80's). My mum made sure we had 'our space' and packed for our adventures and had our books, sweets all around us.

    We used to look out for landmarks, so when we saw something it meant I was X miles away. I think we used to fall asleep out of boredom in the end...

    It's cruel - but one time when the arguments started my dad threatened to cancel the holiday and turn around...and he did (well ok he went around the roundabout and back down the road) but to a 7 year old that was extreme blackmail (but it worked).

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