So I get asked a lot how I do so much driving with Reuben in tow and the simple answer is... he loves being in the car! No joke, he really does. So obviously that helps, but of course like all young children he gets very bored and needs entertaining. For drives that are a couple of hours long, it's fine, as he will usually sleep most of it - but for anything longer than that I have to bring things with us. What toddler doesn't get bored being strapped into a car seat? This year alone we've done over 1000 miles in trips, and we have another 700 miles ahead of us as we're off down to Cornwall this month! 14 hours of driving in total to get there and back - fun fun fun! So, I'm going to share a few of the things that I personally do/take with me on road trips to make them easier. Some of these tips may be obvious things, but you never know... they might help someone out there.
Have Them Up Front
If you're travelling solo with a little one, I would definitely recommend having them up front in the passenger seat. Particularly for long journeys, it can be a nightmare when there's nobody with you to see to them. Just for simple things like recently Reuben undid his seatbelt whilst we were driving on the motorway and he got super told off so he hasn't done it since - but if he tried and was sat in the back, I wouldn't see him do it. At least in the front I can see him out of the corner of my eye. Other little things he does is ask me to pass him his juice or snacks, something I can do one handed without taking my eyes off the road when he's sat next to me, handing them to him in the backseat is another story. He once vomited everywhere whilst I was driving too, and again, on a motorway it's not as simple as pulling over because you can't just stop. With them in the passenger seat you're able to multitask with one hand on the wheel and the other mopping up sick or comforting them, you know?! These things are so common with little kids so yeah, I just feel a lot better and think it's way safer to have him next to me rather than in the back as it's just us two 99% of the time.
All The Juice
Juice is just like a must whenever we go anywhere in the car. I know that I myself get very dehydrated when in the car, especially in this humid weather, and Reuben will often ask for a drink at least 2843759 times whilst in the car. Instead of panicking trying to find the nearest shop, it's easier to just stock the car up with plenty to drink. If you want to keep it nice and cold and don't have a cooler in your car, you can just freeze bottles of juice or water the night before and you get an ice cold drink for hours once you take it out and it starts to defrost.
Tech Is Your Best Mate
Tech is your best friend when it comes to toddlers, or just kids in general. An iPhone or an iPad or some form of tablet can keep them entertained for hours and hours. You don't need wifi, you can just download plenty of games and programmes/movies on apps like Netflix. It's an absolute life saver. I also recently invested in some headphones for Ru so that I can still listen to my music in the car without disrupting his movie time and he actually said "thank you mummy" when I gave them to him, he loves them! Here's the link to them on Amazon, I had to also buy a lightening adapter for the iPad making the order a bit more pricey, but the headphones were really cheap at £10.99 and they're amazing quality! I also got this foam iPad cover for kids from eBay that enables it to stand up and has handles, whilst also protecting it from any accidents; and it was less than £6! So impressed with it.
This will differ for every toddler, but Reuben has comforters for his naps and bedtimes and those are his dummy and his blanket. We have quite a few variations of the blanket, it's a big soft throw from Matalan that I got him when he was really small. For a long time he'd only have the original one with the cloud pattern, but we've got 3 with different patterns on now and he's happy with any as they all feel the same. I found a Disney one almost identical in Primark too so we actually have 4 now! I keep one of them in the car at all times and he always asks for it on long car journeys - always! He'll just hold it and cuddle it and sometimes he won't need his dummy, other times he will, but they just keep him super chill and help him to fall asleep too which obviously makes a huge chunk of the journey easier.
Consider investing in the right car to make your driving experience as comfortable as possible for you and your bundle of joy. This way, you can go on lengthy drives without so much discomfort. A family car comes in handy when embarking on spontaneous outings, and various models can make the process much easier. Options like a used Ford Focus can be great for exploring new routes while providing sufficient space for your belongings.
Stretching Their Little Legs
It’s okay to take a break from time to time, giving them some space to stretch their little legs or at least letting them get out of the of the car when they get a bit bored. This can help warm them up for the exciting Gruffalo trails you may be going on, or can be the perfect opportunity for a yummy picnic. This may also help tire them out. If you’re lucky, your little one will sleep the rest of the way!
The first thing that comes to mind when you want to keep a little one entertained is... toys! Not always the easiest of things to play with when you're sat in a car and strapped into a car seat, but there's actually quite a few things that Ru will happily sit and play with! He likes his little toy cars and sometimes mini planes that he'll pretend to fly about. He also likes to flick through books or magazines, especially the ones he has that makes sounds. Sticker books he loves too! It will vary to be honest as it depends on what keeps your own child occupied but have a think about things that are car friendly, and pack a backpack with a few bits and bobs.
I was going to also mention snacks in this post but I try and limit how much Ru eats in the car as he makes such a mess! I don't mind mess-free things though like fruit pouches, or squeezy yogurt pouches, and some breakfast bars are okay (the non crumbly type ones!) and sometimes bananas. This is obviously just my own preference though as I hate having to clean his car seat, it's the thing of nightmares.
How do you keep your little ones entertained on car journeys?!