We all know the niggly "are we there yet?" routine that tends to take place when we take the grandchildren out for the day. And while it can be annoying for everyone involved, there are some easy ways you can tackle boredom head on to make every bit of your days out trips all the more fun.
Countryfile star and mum Julia Bradbury has teamed up with insurance company, AXA, to share her top tips on keeping kids happy for the whole journey. Let us know if you've any words of wisdom to add!
- Involve the kids in the journey. Travelling around gives you a great opportunity to teach your kids about where they're going so do your research beforehand so you can interest them with some fun facts. It’s a good time to introduce maps and start the geography lessons as well. My little boy who's four has an amazing memory when it comes to landmarks and locations and has even started telling us which way to drive when we get close to home!
- Be prepared. It really pays to know the details of your journey before you set off so you can plan pit stops and avoid getting lost. This will help break up the journey for your kids so they aren't fully aware of how long it is. It’s also worth considering taking a scenic route so the surroundings are more interesting.
- Tire them out. Kids have so much energy so make sure before they get in the car and at intervals, they have a good opportunity to stretch their legs and maybe even have a run around. Have you ever noticed those playgrounds at service stations on the motorway? Use them! This way they'll feel a little more relaxed, less excitable and they may even sleep for part of the journey.
- Find some entertainment. It's not for everyone but if you can pop a cartoon or movie on for your little ones to watch it can help keep them occupied for a while. You can get portable DVD players for a reasonable price but if you can, get one per child to help avoid arguments. There are also some great apps and learning games that everyone can get involved with.
- Sing-a-longs. Music is important in our family and singing along to our favourite tunes can help whittle away an hour or so. Great tunes like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Wheels on the Bus’ are still the favourites according to research by AXA that also found Frozen's ‘Let it Go’ continues to be popular this year, so invest in a good playlist or top 50 CD. Audio books are brilliant too.
- No hungry tummies. Kids will inevitably get bored and with that thirsty and hungry. Make sure you pack some yummy snacks or even a picnic if you're on a long journey but remember that too much sugar could give them too much energy. Little ones will of course still need regular feeding so it's always good to plan where and when you can stop.
- Games. Car games like i-spy are always popular but make sure it doesn't get too competitive to prevent arguments.
- Toys toys toys. As we know, it can get rather messy in the car during a long journey with the kids but toys are still essential. A good trick I learnt was to pop toys in a travel cosmetic roll bag and hang it behind the seat in front. This way they're in arms' reach and it's easy enough to transport them from car to house and vice versa.
- Pyjama-time. Especially if you have a really long journey, if your children are wearing their PJs they'll be cosier to have a napand if you’re getting them out of the car at bed time at the other end you can plop themstraight into bed.
- Keep calm and carry on. Car journeys can be intense for people of any age so always try to remain calm and try not to stress as this will affect both children or adults. Try and pre-plan ridiculous answers to the inevitable ‘are we nearly there yet/how far have we got to go’? E.g. we’ll be there faster than it takes to get to the moon which is approximately 385,000km away and would take us about 3 days to get to. This in the case of my eldest leads to a conversation about rockets and space missions…which takes up another 15 minutes at least!
- There's more grandparenting ideas in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday