The car has been expertly packed, you’ve got a full tank of petrol and the sat nav is plugged in and ready to go – looks like you’re all set to embark on that much anticipated family break! In an ideal world, the kids are already half asleep as you pull out of the driveway – but in reality you know it’s only a matter of time until you’re faced with the first ‘are we there yet?’…
So just how do you keep the little ones pre-occupied in the car? To help ensure your journey is as smooth and tantrum-free as possible, we’ve enlisted the help of some top parenting bloggers to provide the best tips for maintaining that all-important backseat harmony. Stay tuned for the rest of the week for our top tantrum-busting tips!
Today our expert parental bloggers offer advice on the best items for keeping the kids entertained in the backseat, as well as a few tips on how the mentality of the parents can help make the trip much more enjoyable.
Natalie Birt runs the Mummy Smiles blog and likes to hedge her bets by bringing a variety of items: Headphones, maps, sticker books and binoculars can all go a long way in providing some much needed backseat entertainment. An iPad or tablet is also a great piece of kit for your artillery, and it seems the majority of bloggers would agree – 70 per cent choosing a tablet as their preferred entertainment option.
And when things start to get a little fraught? Lisa Wilson from Two Point Five Kids clearly speaks from experience when she ranks “a sense of humor and patience”
as one of the key strategies to a peaceful road adventure. Complimented by ice cream stops, pack wipes and tissues, of course.
Jess Newman, the brains behind the Essentially Jess blog, wraps it up by suggesting you make the trip more exciting by making a pit-stop somewhere interesting. “Just enjoy the road and all the places you might not otherwise get to visit.”
What are your top tips for entertaining the kids in the backseat? Look out for more helpful advice tomorrow when we explore how to survive those extra-long journeys…
Long journeys – a survival guide
Today we’re looking for advice on how often you should stop for breaks en route to your destination, in order to make those long-haul trips a little easier for both the kids and parents. So whether you’re planning a scenic trip from Sydney to the Gold Coast, or looking to hire a car in Melbourne for an adventurous journey along the Great Ocean Road, check out these top tips for a hassle-free journey.
Jess Newman is no stranger to lengthy car trips, having once travelled the 3200km between Darwin and Port Lincoln with young ones in the backseat. She finds that stopping every two to three hours is more than enough, as “kids tend to get in ‘travel mode’ and are happy to be in the car until you reach the destination”.
Barbara Bryan who runs the Single Mum blog is also a firm believer in frequent breaks, with the one exception – “If they are asleep then push on!” She looks upon the journey as a key part of the holiday and likes to stop off at interesting spots along the way, because the trip itself “is an important part of fun holiday memories”. Well you know what they say – it’s not the destination, but the journey…
How do you survive long journeys with little ones? Stay tuned for more helpful tips tomorrow when we take a closer look at toys and games which can help make the car journey that bit easier.
Fun and games
Today we’re taking a closer look at those all-important toys and games that can often be the difference between a road trip from hell and a blissful family adventure. Check out these handy tips for what to bring along on your journey.
Georgia Johnson writes about all things parenting on her Parental Parody blog and admits her in-car entertainment is solely reliant on electronic devices. iPads, tablets and Nintendos act, as she puts it, “as my three backseat babysitters of choice”. And if these helpful gadgets fail to entertain the kids then she recommends a round or two of “who can be quiet for the longest”, a game which she finds often accounts for “the most blissful 10-12 minutes of the entire journey”.
Sonia Stackhouse from life love and hiccups often finds that a game of good old-fashion I-Spy does the trick, and it seems she’s not alone. And just like Georgia Johnson, she too has a soft spot for the ‘quiet game’, but isn’t afraid of revving up the noise a bit by belting out some favourite songs and adding funny words to the lyrics.
I-Spy and portable DVD players are the key to a successful trip for Lisa Wilson. And over at the Easy Peasy Kids blog, the top tip is to stock up on a healthy supply of paper, colouring pencils, books and dolls. It seems the classic entertainment toys still do the job after all.
What toys and games do the trick for your kids? Keep an eye out for more advice tomorrow when we’ll present tips on the best sing-along anthems, as well as some cool tablet apps to keep the kids entertained.
Top tablet apps and sing-along tunes
Every self-respecting road tripper needs a good supply of music for the long journey, and family excursions are no exception. So today, we’ve asked our parenting bloggers to provide tips on the best music to have a sing-along to, as well as what apps you should aim to download to your kids’ tablets.
The top tip from parenting blog Fast Lane Dad is to keep it cool with an album or two from The Beatles. Jess Newman is also a firm believer in sticking to the music you like best, for the simple reason that “keeping parents happy in the car is as important as keeping the kids happy.” And when it comes to top apps for the tablets, she finds that her older children prefer games such as Minecraft, while Toca Boca is a firm favourite with the younger passengers.
Jody Allen, meanwhile, recommends sticking to some classic children tunes for the best sing-alongs. The Wheels on the Bus, Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Baby Beluga all form part of her travel mix CD. Break up the music by letting the kids play Minion Rush on the tablet and you’re on to a winner.
Natalie Birt believes apps with an educational angle are ideal for longer trips and she lists Park Math, Tiny Wings, Math Bingo and Reading Eggs as her favourites. Barbara Bryan agrees and also recommends games which encourage children to learn new languages, as well as alphabet and counting games. And finally she offers one bit of crucial practical advice: “Don’t forget a charge cord that extends to the back seat!”
Stacey Roberts from The Veggie Mama recommends Fisher-price apps, the very hunger caterpillar and Cloudbabies to keep her kids entertained.
What are your songs and apps of choice? Don’t forget to check back tomorrow when we’ll be featuring top tips on the type of refreshments which will help keep your backseat passengers happy.
Food essentials for long journeys
It’s no secret that a healthy stash of refreshments is key to a successful road trip, particularly when you’ve got kids in the back. But what snacks should you pack in order to keep the kids happy, without setting off that dreaded sugar rush?
Georgia Johnson tackles it by enforcing a total ban on salty or sugary snacks, because it causes the kids to “either be hyper or endlessly thirsty and needing toilet stops; or worse, both”. She recommends taking along some homemade snacks instead, such as her speciality – delicious garlic crispies made from oven baked pita bread.
Chopped fruit and sugar free sweets is the name of the game for the Fast Lane Dad blog, where “a fun sense of adventure” is regarded as the essential ingredient to any family adventure.
Deborah Alter-Rasche from learn with play at home highly recommends taking food that isn’t going to be too messy in the car, suggesting fresh fruit and cut cucumber.
Barbara Bryan always ensures she brings a stockpile of fruit, because it can be hard to find fresh fruit in service stations along the way. She also recommends bringing some crisps and lollies in zip-lock bags as a money saving measure, meaning you won’t have to stop off for supplies en route.
Kellie Anderson, who runs the Mummy of Style and Substance blog, is happy to let the kids indulge in some tasty treats in order to keep the peace. Fruit and water features alongside biscuits and lollies in her list of top road trip tips.
So there you have it, some nice and helpful advice on what nibbles to bring along on the journey. But what do you pack for an emergency snack attack? Tune in tomorrow when we’ll take a closer look at the essential items which should always accompany you on the road…
The top travel essentials
Packing your car ahead of a family holiday can be a challenge, with the often limited space leaving you with no choice but to prioritise certain items. So to help make the process that little bit simpler, we’ve sought the help of our expert parent bloggers for tips on which items you simply can’t live without.
Bloggers Kellie Anderson and Lisa Wilson consider a portable DVD player to be their saving grace on most road trips. And although she is reluctant to admit it, Jess Newman agrees: “DVD players, honestly. As much as I hate that we rely on them, they do keep kids happy and that’s what you want.”
A change of clothes is top of the list over at the Easy Peasy Kids blog, while Barbara Bryan recommends stocking up on plenty of snacks and water in order to stave off any sudden cries of hunger from the backseat.
Finally, Georgia Johnson has a must-have ‘item’ on her list, which will no doubt resonate with many a parent: bribery and promises. The reason? “So we all know what’s at the finish line when we arrive at our destination. For them – a visit to a zoo, an ice cream, whatever it takes. For us – wine.”
What are your top travel essentials for a long journey with the kids?