How to get children to enjoy car trips
Car journeys with children can be really stressful. All that whining, fighting and arguing can make even the shortest trip seem like hard work – never mind those long trips to visit relatives over Christmas.
But take heart – it really doesn’t have to be like that! By following a few simple strategies your children can actually enjoy those car journeys – and so can you.
Golden rules of in-car kids entertainment
Children often behave badly when they are bored, tired and hungry. Anticipate these basic needs, and you’re half way to winning the battle of the whinges.
There’s an absolutely guaranteed way to beat in-car boredom – stock the car with audio cds and downloads even for short journeys. Children are instantly drawn into the stories and can often be absorbed for hours on end.
For six year olds and under – opt for collections of short stories, fairy tales, and songs. Not only will it keep them quiet, it’s also a great way of introducing young children to classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
Over sixes are spoilt for choice when it comes to audio tapes with a great selection of classic and contemporary stories, often superbly read. Highly educational – without your child realising it!
Top car tip
A great tip if you want to listen to the radio or if you have two or more children who want to listen to different stories, is to invest in cheap personal stereos and keep them in the car. The kids plug in the headsets, you switch on the radio and hey presto, everyone’s happy. (Make sure you keep a stock of spare batteries handy.)
Best ever audio recordings
Some audio tapes are so good, you’ll find yourself listening even if the children aren’t in the car. Highly recommended are:
Harry Potter (each of the stories) by J.K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry – brilliant readings that will keep children (5+) literally engrossed for days, even weeks, on end, great for long journeys and holidays where you want to be left in peace! (Don’t forget to pack the ipod.)
Just William (various volumes) by Richard Crompton, read by Martin Jarvis. Very funny and appealing to all ages.
Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, read by Alan Bennett. Beautifully read and compelling listening for all ages.
The Story of Dr Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, read by Alan Bennett. A charming story that captivates children.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis, read by Michael Hordern. Imaginative tales that appeal to a wide age-group.
Roald Dahl (most of his stories) various readers. Superb stories, very well read, which appeal enormously to most ages, but can be too scary for under sixes.
Stockists: All good book shops, some toy and record shops. For an excellent mail order service try The Talking Book Shop (020 7491 4117) www.talkingbooks.co.uk. Also try BBC products mail order: 0870 6007080. Libraries are also a good source of recordings for children – and they are usually free.
Other tips for peaceful trips
• When you go on long journeys by car with children make sure you pack some snacks and drink cartons. A few treats can work wonders at crisis moments!
• Hand-held computer games, with the sound turned off, can be good in the car.
• Magnetic travel games are also good for car journeys.
• Invest in a bag that hangs over the front seat headrest so your child can have ready access to a supply of soft toys or games.