The Unmumsy Mum’s Road Trip Tips

30. května 2024

Our car could tell some stories. From long motorway journeys with whingeing toddlers to emergency A&E dashes thanks to wrestling injuries, the Kodiaq has seen it all. Notable moments include the day we left Stinky Mummy Pig - a teddy my son couldn’t sleep without - at his grandparents, and I was forced to make the 84-mile round trip to collect her. There was also the time I managed to get wedged in a car-park due to questionable parking (mine) and had to sing songs to three hot and angry children while wondering whether we might all die there.

As luck would have it, it wasn’t long before the car next to us left and we managed to get out, though my eldest son likes to remind me of this incident every time we visit the same spot.

These days, the nature of our everyday car journeys has shifted. Our weeks revolve around the boys’ clubs or more specifically, football. We currently have training on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays plus matches on Saturdays and some Sundays and that’s before we get to tournaments. The car is loaded with bags of footballs, cones, slalom poles and at times, our sons’ teammates – it’s lucky we opted for seven seats. When not preparing the children to be premier league stars, we’re running them to friends’ houses and birthday parties, nipping to the supermarket to do the Big Shop and occasionally treating ourselves to a child-free trip to the recycling centre to get rid of the stuff everyone’s been tripping over for months (#MeTime).

We’re now in our twelfth year of parenting and though we’re still very much learning on the job, there are a few things that make car journeys feel easier or, at the very least, less painful.

1. Prepare your playlist.

Music is a huge motivator - and negotiator - in our car. For shorter journeys, the boys take it in turn to have their playlists on (it takes approximately four songs to get to swimming lessons and if listening to four songs I hate is what it takes to get everyone strapped in and ready to go on time, I’ll take it). For longer journeys, playlists are shuffled with all our favourites and if fighting breaks out the boys must listen to Absolute 80s or 90s which we sing at full blast until arguments are replaced by a shocked consensus over their ‘cringe’ parents. If playing music via Spotify or similar, make sure all songs are downloaded to your phone before setting off otherwise patchy signal will lead to stretches of silence.

2. Keep your snack cards close to your chest.

Never knowingly under-snacked, parents generally pack for long journeys as though the car itself is a self-catering destination. One thing we’ve learned to do is keep some of the best snacks - i.e. the ones we know our kids will be most excited about -to ourselves. That way, when morale is dipping due to traffic jams or general irritability, we know there’s a pick-me-up locked and loaded.

3. Don’t rush home.

We have learned the hard way through several disastrous day trips that heading back from somewhere early because you’re keen to get home doesn’t always work in your favour. Sometimes, an extra few hours with family or a longer stop for food rather than a grab and go from the services means you’ll miss the heaviest traffic. It is easier to deal with cranky children who are up late in a moving car than it is to deal with cranky children who are up late and who’ve been in the car for hours, without moving, because their parents were keen to get back at a reasonable time. Navigation and live traffic apps like Waze are great for helping to make this call. And if you do get stuck bumper to bumper, there’s always the snacks...

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