This a guest post written by Sainsbury’s Finance writer Janet Chapman who writes on a range of topics including family matters and car insurance. In her free time she enjoys cooking, the countryside and trying to train her large dog.
How to keep children happy in the car
Driving with bored, restless children in the car can make journeys more stressful than they need to be. Disruptive children mean distracted drivers – but it can be difficult to calm things down from the driving seat, where there are other things to deal with.
Keeping children happy and comfortable in the car is a good way of avoiding potential problems. By planning ahead to keep young passengers entertained you can make sure the car is a place for treats, not tantrums.
Are they sitting comfortably?
It’s easy to overlook car seats when they are in everyday use, but children do outgrow them. Any child will quickly become fidgety and difficult if restraints rub or don’t allow enough room for movement. Regular checks will ensure your children are sitting comfortably.
Take a break
Plan your journey time to allow for plenty of breaks – they’re good for passengers as well as drivers.
In good weather, try to schedule in a stop for children to run about, or at least stretch their legs if they’re older. Fresh air and exercise will help them settle more happily in the car when it’s time to resume the journey.
Music is a tried and tested way of lifting the mood in the car, from singalongs with youngsters to CDs for older children.
Old favourites will encourage children to join in, or you can introduce an element of surprise by choosing a couple of new CDs and playing them once the journey has started.
Nothing makes the miles fly by as fast as a good game that involves everyone in the car. Some of the best games don’t need equipment, just imagination and a sense of fun.
Children often enjoy making lists, and will sit happily for a long time noting down the names of different transport firms, unusual number plates, or different animals seen by the roadside. The key is to keep them interested in what’s going on outside so they don’t fret about being stuck in the car.
A spell of quiet time is essential, especially on longer journeys. But being quiet need not mean being bored, if you remember to pack some pastimes that call for silent concentration.
Younger children love puzzle books and colouring-in books, while older kids might appreciate new issues of their favourite magazines. For children who get car-sick if they read on a journey, talking books are a good solution. You should be able to find a selection at your local library.
Whatever you choose to pack to entertain your children in the car, presenting it as a treat can help them see a journey as something to be enjoyed rather than endured.
Wrapping little gifts and activities creates excitement and builds a sense of anticipation rather than boredom – putting a pile of presents into the car might even make your children keen for the journey to start!
The same applies to food and drink. Healthy snacks – with perhaps the occasional sweet treat – can be used to reward good behaviour. Food can be entertaining, rather than just necessary fuel for the journey.
It’s important to take the stress out of your journey in as many ways as possible, and keeping children entertained will help you achieve that aim. Knowing that you have adequate car insurance is equally important when driving with the family.