When it comes to kids and cars, one thing is for sure — it can be a challenge. From ensuring they are safely buckled in, to keeping them occupied and quiet, there’s a lot to think about when driving with kids. Here are a few tips to help make the process a little bit easier.
1. Don’t be a superhero
It’s tempting to think that you can keep your kids happy, entertained, and quiet even on the toughest of car trips. It’s not cockiness, it’s simply an exaggeration of your parental instincts — but don’t try it! All parents are human too, with their own little quirks and mood swings. Plan ahead and pack plenty of snacks, activities, and portable entertainment to make sure your kids are kept happy.
2. Bring the noise
Your kid’s favorite music is an amazing way to ensure they’re constantly entertained — whether they like classical or pop music — you can be sure they’ll love it. With portable CD players and music playing apps, there’s no need to rely on the radio, unless of course your kids like that too!
3. Keep them safe and buckled in
One of the most important things to think about when driving with kids is safety — for them and for you. Keep them in the back seat and make sure they’re safely buckled in. Car accidents are difficult dealings to maneuver, requiring the help of accident lawyers and other authorities to deal with. If you’re driving an older car with manual belts, make sure to teach your kids how to buckle up independently. It’ll only take a few minutes of extra effort but will really pay off when it comes time to drive somewhere.
4. Get them fed and rested before hopping in the car
If you’re a parent, you know how precious a good night’s sleep is. You can bet that if your kids are well-rested and fed before getting in the car, they’ll much better behave for the drive. Make sure everyone has had enough rest and has eaten something nutritious before you set off. If your kids are tired or hungry, you’ll end up with a car full of wailing and complaints.
5. Be prepared for boredom
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to entertain them, the kids are going to get bored. Whether they’re tired or just not feeling it, boredom is inevitable — but you can be prepared for it! Bring a book of puzzles and games that they play with if things start getting out of hand. If your kids are old enough to handle a tablet, bring it along and let them watch a movie or play their favorite games.
6. Make a few stopovers
Even if your kids are preoccupied and happy in the car, they’re going to need to stop for food and necessities. Make sure that you stop at a few different providers — like a fast-food restaurant or an open park — instead of stopping at the same place all the time. Not only does it help them burn off some steam by walking around and get rid of the need to go to the bathroom, but they’ll have a new experience every time you stop.
7. Be patient with them
Remember that your kids are going to be kids — even if they whine and complain a whole lot, it’s not a big deal. Instead of becoming annoyed by their behavior in the car, do your best to keep your cool! Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than a parent losing their temper in a car full of children. If you need to, take breaks or even stop for a few minutes to give everyone a chance to cool off.
8. Check on them if they are very quiet
If your normally boisterous and talkative kids suddenly turn quiet, it’s probably because they’re not feeling well. Make sure to check on them if they seem unwell — you might need to stop at a doctor or go back home. Or maybe they’re doing something that will get them into trouble. Check on them to be sure.
9. Don’t let anyone distract you
Finally, remember that driving with kids isn’t the time to let others in the car distract you. Keep your eyes on the road and drive safely — if you’re not in control of the wheel, nobody else is either. If someone’s distracting you, ask them politely but firmly to stop.
Driving with kids doesn’t have to be so stressful — just plan ahead, buckle up, and stay calm! Parents are humans too — if your kids get particularly cranky or you need to stop for some reason, take a break and relax. It’ll likely take only half the time you expected it