The wheels on the car go round and round
It’s a rare child who never has to go in the car, and an even rarer one who never fights going into the carseat or gets bored after 5 minutes making a journey less than pleasant for everyone involved. Today we’re going to look at some ideas which will hopefully make your life easier.
Earlier this year we came across a nifty little product on Twitter, called My Car Step, which attaches safely to the car seat. Invented by a mum fed up of battling her daughter, this award winning product allows children to climb into the carseat by themselves instead of being lifted, or manhandled, in. As we said in our post on tantrums, allowing children independence can defuse situations and, as a bonus this will save your back some strain, because you no longer need to perform contorted lifting manoeuvres. For nannies or childminders, who can lift multiple children into carseats on a daily basis for twenty years or more, good lifting technique and minimising strain is invaluable.
Once your little cherubs are safely attached it’s worth making the environment as comfortable as possible. Sunshades will reduce glare and making sure that the children are wearing the name number of layers as you will allow you to control the car’s temperature appropriately. Take their personal preferences into account regarding recline where possible – better that a child is happy but falls asleep upright than is reclined from the start and protests all the way. On long journeys you can stop briefly to adjust the recline to ensure they remain comfortable. Before setting off check that they have any toys within easy reach, and if necessary a drink of some kind.
Music can make journeys a lot more bearable for children, as singing along to their favourite nursery rhymes with sound effects and actions will keep them occupied. If it gets unbearable for you make a compilation of songs you all enjoy and listen to that instead. While you may appreciate the radio, young children may be bored by adverts and some songs won’t be age appropriate.
One perennial favourite is I-spy, a game with endless possibilities and several variations. Under-2s will join in looking for objects if you say ‘I spy with my little eye a bus/tractor/cow’. Preschoolers are able to identify objects associated with colours ‘I spy something red/green/yellow’ and once children are confidently recognising phonics or letters your can play the classic version.
Older children who don’t get car sick can play a version of I-spy bingo. Create some cars with pictures of different objects such as a bus, a set of traffic lights, a bicycle or a letterbox, and include some less common ones. When children see the object they can mark it on their card. The idea is to get a row, or if your feeling really adventurous, a full house. This also improves memory and recall as they will need to be able to tell you when and where they saw the objects.
Children who can recognise letters can help you make up funny sentences from the letters on car number plates. Y491 AMS makes You Are My Squishy or You Ate Many Satsumas. K920 LSC can become Katie Likes Scented Candles or Kicking Leaves Someone Crying.
Even young children can get involved in making up stories about other people on the road. This enhances social and emotional development, introduces children to situational humour, and exercises their imagination. This is especially good if you’re stuck in traffic and can see pedestrians walking by. You can pick someone who is walking by and ask the children where they think the person is going. Are they in a hurry? Why might that be?
Check our our ‘Travel with children‘ board on Pinterest for more ideas.
Finally, even if the traffic is frustrating, you’re late and it’s raining outside, keep your cool. Children will easily pick up on tension and frustration, and if you’re constantly enraged when on the road they’ll begin to associate going in the car with negative emotions. Ideally journeys should be fun and education, but most of all, happy!
We hope you find some of this helpful. What’s your fail safe technique for car journeys?