So you’ve got a long car journey ahead and you’re thinking “how the hell will I survive this with the kids?!”
I know, I say it every time we go away.
With family who live 200 miles away I’m pretty experienced with long family car journeys. And trust me when I say they haven’t all been easy.
In this post I’m going to share with you some of our most difficult car journeys with the kids and how we survived them. I say survived because some of them were car journeys from hell!!
First of all one thing that has absolutely helped is our new car. It’s bigger, more spacious, has air con, leather seats (aka wipeable seats), generally nicer to be in. So if you’re looking to expand your family, or go on more UK breaks, or are considering updating your family car, definitely look at a VW SUV or something similar.
A couple of car journeys come to mind as being my absolute worst and I’m going to share how I got through them with only crying a couple of times… 😉
First is our journey home from Bluestone Wales when Bear was 2 months old. The 5ish hour journey took us, wait for it… 9 and a half hours!
At this stage we didn’t know Bear had silent reflux. Being so young we figured he would sleep a lot in the car. We couldn’t of been more wrong. He screamed and screamed and screamed.
And then screamed some more.
He HATED his car seat. Laying back flat was like torture to him. But we just didn’t realise it.
We literally drove for 10 mins and he’d start screaming.
So how did we survive this journey?
Firstly I sang ‘row, row, row your boat’ 6781 times. The sound of my voice actually soothed him a little.
I squeezed in the back of the car between the two car seats (this is where a bigger car comes in handy) so I could play music to him on my phone, or hold the iPad for him to ‘watch’ something on youtube. Obviously at 2 months old he didn’t really watch things, but the bright colours of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse seemed to mesmerise him long enough to stop crying.
Not only did we struggle with the screaming, we also hit a huge traffic jam. Brilliant.
So now we didn’t have the hum of the engine to keep the baby happy. It was at this point I had to lean over and somehow breastfeed Bear when he screamed.
That was a highlight of my breastfeeding journey for sure!
Looking back I’m not sure what else we could of done to survive this journey. Luckily Lamb is such a good boy in the car and knew there was nothing we could do to make it any shorter.
Lots of snacks, iPad and eye spy kept him happy.
He did so well and we continuously praised him for his good behaviour. Unfortunately there was a point when we all cracked, and my husband had to sit and listen to all 3 of us in the back crying at the though we just might not get home that day!
The next journey which has to be one of my absolute worst was when I decided to take the boys to my stay with family 200 miles away.
On my own.
I decided to drive in the evening in the hope the boys would sleep most of the way.
I couldn’t of been more wrong.
What should of been a 3-4 hour journey easily took 5-6 hours and yes, I cried on this one too!
Again, Bear was vey young and screamed bloody murder most of the way. I would settle him and 10 minutes into our journey he’d be screaming again.
It was like torture.
I’ve learned my lesson from these horrific car journeys with the kids. There are a few things I would do differently (or not at all!)
- Avoid taking the kids on a long car journey by myself.
- Avoid driving at night when it’s dark, as pulling in and out of the services on the A1 can be pretty scary.
- Download a billion lullabies onto your phone in advance in the hope of distracting the baby from screaming.
- Also download plant of ‘happy’ music that will put a smile on your face to help with the stress. Take That greatest hits should do the trick.
- Try not to rush the stops and actually get the kids out of the car and take them into the services for a break from driving.
- If you’re bottle feeding, make sure you’ve got plenty of those pre-made cartons with you.
- For those of you breastfeeding take an electric breast pump (and plenty of batteries!) so you can pump on the journey and give the baby a bottle (if they take one!)
- If you’re breastfeeding and not driving, sit in the back so you can access the baby easier e.g lean over and whip your boob out for them.
- Consider getting a car seat that can go in the front if you have more than one child, so you have more space with the baby in the back.
- Snacks. Lots of snacks. (For you too!)
- When I say snacks, I mean sweets.
- If you’re baby hates their car seat, consider getting the train. 😉
- And finally, it really doesn’t matter how many times you have to stop. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. If it takes longer than you expected, who cares? As long as you get there safely. (And hopefully without losing your s**t.)
* Collaborative post