The holiday season is often one of the busiest travelling times we have with our families and children. While that time is fantastic, many parents experience stress when they need to travel for a time with younger children.
How do I keep them amused, how do I stop them arguing, how do I keep them entertained, how often should I stop? The last thing we parents need is to arrive at our destination stressed out from being a referee on the trip.
The first thing to tell the children is that the journey may take a very long time. Depending on the age of the child depends on how it is said and understood. For example, a child aged 3 – 5 years may understand it better if you say it’s about the same time they are at preschool each day, whereas an older child who understands the concept of time will comprehend, 6 hours.
Children are unfortunately being entertained most of the time with TV, tablets and games. In many cases we are not allowing the opportunity for our children to learn to entertain themselves. This therefore makes it more difficult at times on a long journey - and oh goodness, what if the battery runs out!?
How to make the journey easier
1. Ensure the children have age appropriate activities such as colouring in, tablets for games or to watch movies and DVD’s.
2. Parents can also sing songs with their children, play the ‘I Spy’ game, search for certain coloured cars they pass, generally talk to the child about where they are going and what they will be doing.
3. Discuss anything they want to talk about that interests them instead of having them shut off to a game as this will certainly finish with boredom after a time. Ensure you interrupt their game or activity at a suitable time to talk and play a game with them. They can then return to their game or DVD with renewed interest.
4. Leaving on a long trip early (4 or 5am) usually means the first few hours are quiet as they sleep.
5. Stopping regularly is always a good idea, meaning every 2 hours or thereabouts so the children can burn off some energy. Take a ball, skipping rope or some active item they can play with to burn their energy. Chalk is also great so they can draw on things when stopped or make a hopscotch type activity. Stopping at a park or rest area where they can run or even have a race around things is a bonus, lots of burnt energy here.
6. If conflict erupts you can advise you may be stopping soon and you have vegemite sandwiches made, the quietest child may be rewarded with a treat while the whinger may just get the vegemite sandwich. If you plan to stop at McDonalds or similar, let them know if they remain quiet and good, you will stop, if they are noisy or misbehave, then keep going a little longer or stop elsewhere less fun.
7. You can always advise them that when you reach your destination the children that have behaved may get to choose the bed they want to sleep in or you can offer different types of rewards and the children can choose their favourite. For example: play in the park, bed choice, activity choice and restaurant choice. They all, of course, get to attend but the child who chose owns that choice and reward.
Holidays should be fun for everyone.
This means the children may be a little excited and this can be a good thing. We parents just need to direct their excitement and this is usually required through the trip.