As many of you know prior to being a Mum, I was a Nanny for 14 years. It was a job which I loved and which I was happy to leave the house at 6.20am for and not return home until around 7.30pm most days. I would go in with a smile and leave with an even bigger one, most days. I truly loved this job – now I know not many can say that.
It was such a wonderful job and it certainly set me in good steed for being a parent myself as I got to experience a lot of the things many times and learned a lot through first hand experience – trial and error and working out what suited us and worked best. One of the things I would do often during my Nanny years was accompany the children on their holidays, one of my families had a beautiful holiday home on the south coast which we visited each half term. Their Mum would drive and I would go in the car with them to occupy the children – after all there is nothing more off-putting while driving than young children arguing and moaning they are bored or having to try to pass snacks and drinks behind your back and concentrate on the road – and meet a traffic damn you could be doomed.
There are lots of little things which can help make travelling with children a little easier, here are a few of the things I use to distract and amuse on long journeys:
- Snacks and Drinks
Drinks from sippy style bottles/cups are best as it can be easy to spill them if drunk while driving. I find the bottles/cups which are leak proof to be best as kids are notorious for forgetting to put caps/lids back on.
Mess/crumb free food is of course the best option, but not always possible. We like to take a little packed lunch for the children to pick and choose from, including: a sandwich (Ham, Marmite, Jam etc), Mini Cheddar’s or Quavers (I’m always wary of certain food types in the car as choking can easily happen – I avoid baby tomatoes, grapes and hula hoops), Babybel, squeezy yogurt.
- Travel sickness bracelets/tablets
Emmy suffers from travel sickness – we use Sea-Bands for drug free treatment which on the whole works very well. I do carry tablets too just in case it is very bad. Not using phones or tablets help and avoiding reading while moving. Having the window open a little also helps.
- Travel Shades on the windows
It can become rather warm in the back of a car on long journeys, couples with lot of luggage and a warm day it can feel even warmer than it is and having the window open fully on motorways isn’t ideal as it will be too noisy, too cold and rubbish/dust etc can enter via the windows. The stick on types of shades are good but the limit your ability to open a window. I use a glove type shade on the back windows of our car – it fits over the car door covering the inside and outside of the window, meaning you can still open the window and nothing will blow into the car or out! (Harry used to have a habit of throwing things out of the window). I have these ones from Amazon which cost £8.99
- Snacks and Drinks
- Bags for rubbish
There is nothing worse than having the kids crisps papers and drinks bottles rolling around the car and then finding them a week later.
- Colouring books and crayons
I find crayons are easiest as they don’t need sharpening half way through a journey, I also place them in a pencil case for easy access and to stop them rolling around the floor
- Lap tray
Not essential but it does make drawing or playing a little easier – there are lots available, we have this one which folds flat when not in use and has pockets in the side for holding crayons, toys or even drinks and snacks
- Bags for rubbish
- Small toy figures/cars
Mine like to take a few small toys which they can play – only 2 or 3. Harry likes to take his Paw Patrol figures and Emmy likes her dolls.
- Backpack or bag
This is to put in the middle of the car to keep all the toys tidy
- A few wrapped presents
These don’t have to be new toys for the children, they can be ones which they’ve not played with for a while – children like unwrapping presents and usually aren’t that bothered with the contents – make sure they put the rubbish in the bin bag and not on the floor.
- Car games
A few of our favourites are: I Spy, spot the car (everyone picks a colour and the first to spot a car of that colour wins), spot the landmark, number plate scrabble (make words using the letters on the car number plates), car Bingo, guess the animal etc.
- Audio CD’s
We are currently loving the David Walliams story collection – it’s not only the children who giggle at his stories but us adults do too, and they aren’t boring which is always a bonus and recently I signed up for Audibly on Amazon, this is £7.99 a month but you can cancel and just access the free trial is you wanted – I stock up on kid audiobooks, download them to my phone and we all listen together on the long journeys.
- Sticker books
- Teddy and blanket
For late night car trips or really long trips my children always fall asleep, to make it as comfortable as possible we take their favourite teddies and a thin blanket so they can get snuggly and cosy
- Kids Tablets
These we use occasionally if it is a long journey, Emmy gets travel sick so we limit the use in the car
- Making up stories
We like to make up stories as we drive along, one person starts and then someone else continues, passing over after a sentence or two – these end up either making no sense at all or to be rather amusing
Of course, there’s always the sensible things to check when going on any car journey, especially with children, starting with making sure your car insurance is up-to-date (have you remembered to call to add on any points you may have got?), checking the tyre pressure and making sure you have breakdown cover in place, having a charged phone with you for emergencies (or a charger in the car), a note pad and pen in the glove box (for exchanging details in the event of an accident), then there’s the job of making sure everyone has been to the toilet before setting off and packing a spare set of clothes in the boot just in case (mainly for younger children but you never know – I always have a spare set for both my children packed away in the boot at all times…..and have used them many times) and wet wipes….there is always a need for wet wipes!
And also remember to HAVE FUN
*Collaborative post* – This post also contains affiliate links
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Other Top Tips from a former Nanny: (click the posts to read)