Are we there yet?

My friend Lisa and her husband Owen recently found themselves changing their daughter’s nappy on a lay-by on the M25 – too late, it turned out, to avoid an unfortunate mess on the car seat.

Yes, there’s no getting away from it – long journeys with kids can be a nightmare, especially if you get stuck in traffic, or stuck on tarmac (This happened to us once on the way home from a holiday in Portugal. Our plane didn’t take off for an hour after we’d boarded, resulting in a lot of bored kids –  and my toddler throwing a small piece of Lego through the cabin, which unfortunately hit another passenger on the back of the head. She was not amused.)

If you’re planning a road trip with your family this half-term, Tanith Carey, mum of two and author of How to be an ‘Amazing Mum’ When You Just Don’t Have The Time (available at Waterstones) has some good tips for driving with kids – if you have any of your own, do let us know:

  • Get in the habit of putting the keys straight into the ignition as soon as you open the car door.
  • Fit sunshades into the rear windows. Remember that kids can’t move freely in their seats, so it’s hardly surprising they are annoyed to have the sun shining in their eyes.
  • Plan ahead and check for parks and playgrounds en route so kids can let off steam on the way.
  • Pack one towel in the back seat for every child. It can be used as a blanket, a mop for any spills, or on toddlers’ laps to help toys stay put.
  • Get a car seat with a clip-on tray so kids have somewhere to rest their toys.
  • Use a shoe organiser with lots of compartments, tied to the back of the front seat in front, to store a good selection of boredom-busting toys for kids.
  • Take easy snacks and pack water bottles that are easy to open and close.

written by Liz Jarvis