It’s lovely to spend time with the kids, especially if you can take them somewhere new where you can spend precious, distraction-free time together. The problem is, kids don’t always travel well. Going away with them will often mean a lot of organisation and packing, and that’s before you consider the rigid nap schedules. Here’s how to organise a weekend away with the kids without tearing your hair out.
1. Make a packing list to make life easier
When the suitcases are out and you’re chucking stuff in, it’s easy to overpack or to forget things. Avoid this by taking one of your rare quiet moments to write a packing list. Some things you might include are:
- Outfits with back-ups in case of spills or accidents
- Weatherproof clothes to suit the season
- More nappies and wipes than you think you need
- Food that your child likes
- Their beloved cuddly toy or blanket to help them sleep
You’ll probably want one suitcase for the boot and a smaller in-car bag that has the essentials such as snacks, toys, water and things like medications that they might need for the journey.
2. Plan around nap and mealtimes
Some kids can be very set in their ways and only nap and eat at certain times, while others will go with the flow a little. If your kids fall in the latter category, you’ll need to do some clever planning. Naps can be taken in the car, but you need to plan stops in kid-friendly places. Luckily, most restaurants now have their menus online, for example at theflintgate.co.uk, you can see exactly what they offer for kids and decide whether it’ll suit any picky eaters. Planning in advance is much easier than driving around with the kids moaning in the back.
3. Plan lots of in-car entertainment
While you may think you can get away with a few rounds of eye-spy and a kids’ music CD to keep them happy, road trips are absolutely awful when the kids are wide awake and bored. Plan more entertainment than you think they’ll need, whether it’s a tablet loaded with kid-friendly apps, colouring books, travel versions of board games or simple toys without too many pieces. If you need to pull out the big guns, consider an in-car entertainment system to keep them quiet while you drive. You drive, they watch their favourite DVD, and everybody wins.
4. Stop to stretch your legs
Don’t just stop for lunch and loo breaks, see if there are any parks along your route where you can let the kids roam freely for a while. Toddlers need about three hours a day of exercise, and older kids can benefit from this too. If they get some fresh air and run around a bit, they’re more likely to nap in the car, buying you some peace and quiet.
5. Get them excited about the destination
Kids are more likely to tolerate a long journey by car or train if there’s something in it for them. Talk about your destination enthusiastically and find some things locally for them to do. Even if it’s a visit to their grandma’s house, you can sell it as an exciting adventure, and they’ll no doubt be enthusiastic about getting on their way.