Thoroughly Modern Mammy Maria shares five tips to make life easier when embarking on a long car journey with your little ones.

Happy Easter Ladybelles!

For many of us, Easter is a time for family holidays or visiting relatives. This week, we drove from Letterkenny to Skibbereen in Cork.

We all know the realities of car travel with kiddies. It’s fine for a while, but long journeys require serious planning and clever Mammying.

If you are packing up the car for a long drive this Easter, here are a few wee ideas to make life easier for you.

  1. A cooler box:  Fill it with snacks.  Use the cooler block to keep Frubes, bananas, strawberries, cheese etc chilled.  And a carton of milk (resealable obviously!) is a must, especially if you have toddlers. Keep non-spill sippy cups in the cool box too. Fill them with water and milk before you leave the house and then top them up if you stop. Biscuits are handy too.  Iced rings and breadsticks are essential, (and jaffa cakes are great for the grown ups when the tiredness hits!) We set the cooler box on the floor between the two Minions which allowed us easy access to it when thirst or hunger hit.
  2. Plan your trip around their routine:  Of course this won’t always work, but if you can put the kids into the car seat at bedtime,I have it on good authority that it makes a long journey easier. (Although as one Mamma told me, it’s not so good when you arrive at your destination at 2am and the kids are full of beans!)  But do think about eating times.  If you can get an hour or two covered before lunch time, there’s a good chance that they’ll sleep after getting their bellies filled, so the next stretch should be smooth.
  3. Plan where you’ll stop:  Before you leave, try to know where you’ll pull in for pitstops.  Of course, you can’t plan for everything, but do a bit of research.  We chose to stop at the Service Station at Lusk as we knew there was a soft play/climbing frame there so the girls had a half hour of stretching their wee legs after lunch and were suitably knackered getting back into the car.  We then stopped at a shopping centre in Port Laoise which gave them a chance to walk around for an hour before eating again.
  4. Make an activity box of their favourite books, colouring books, crayons etc.  I found these wee activity boxes in TKMaxxy (see image) and the sticker books went down a treat. Disney CDs or playlists also work wonders if your kids need a distraction.   If you have (or can borrow) DVD players, try to keep them for the final leg of your trip.  My ever-so-clever Him was soooo excited about these that he had them watching Tangled before we even left the street, so the batteries were dead before we got to Dublin.  On the way back, we didn’t let them watch a movie until nearer the end of the trip. Much better idea. Yes. The words “I told you so” may have been used.
  5. Essentials for parents:  a box of tissues, water, a plastic bag for rubbish, snacks (see no.1), a cushion or travel pillow if you’re able to snooze when it’s not your turn to drive, Sat Nav, Google maps (for when your Sat Nav gets drunk and you realise she’s a lying hallion) and of course, BABYWIPES for EVERYTHING!  Do not set off on a car journey without Babywipes to hand.  Also, make sure that you have coats, hats, a change of clothes for each kid, and plastic bags packed just inside the boot for easy access.  Keep a wee store of calpol, spoons, plasters and Savlon in the car door too.

There is no easy way to travel long distance with kiddies.  It took us 10 hours to get there on Tuesday, because we stopped at our leisure and didn’t worry about time.

Coming home on Thursday took 8 hours as we only stopped for short breaks. Of course, these 5 tips won’t guarantee a squabble/tantrum/whine/puke/boredom free trip, but they equip YOU with everything you MIGHT need to make it just a little bit easier.

Now, if anyone has any tips of how to get your Him to drive the way YOU would (as in the right way), feel free to share.

Safe travels Ladybelles.

And maybe don’t let them eat too much chocolate before they get in the car!