Keep the kids happy on the road
With the holiday season in full swing and families planning trips across the UK and abroad, a potential flashpoint guaranteed to bring travel misery needs to be avoided - how to stop the kids getting bored on a long car trip.
Playing I-Spy might have kept previous generations happily occupied, but nowadays children demand slightly more in the way of in-car entertainment. Providing them with plenty to keep them interested and amused is an absolute must if the journey isn't to descend into prolonged internecine strife on the back seat.
A good idea with younger children is to give them an activities pack. This can be a bag containing magnetic games, colouring books and crayons, action figures and the like. A new book or two is also a good idea if they're keen readers, but don't try to force anything educational on them - this isn't school, after all.
Teenagers are often the most difficult group to please and will probably have their own ideas and may even resent any suggestions from you about how they should be spending their travel time. They're likely to come loaded with iPhones, DVD players, iPods and magazines in any case. If so, it best to leave well alone unless you're prepared to take the sulky consequences.
With the teenagers safely locked away in their own virtual reality, you could try playing audio books to the younger ones but keep checking for signs of boredom such as long sighs and fidgeting, and remember that the book is for their benefit rather than your own. Allow them to pick the story and resist the temptation to inmpose your choice because you won't get any thanks for your well intentioned efforts when the interest starts flagging after the first few sentences.
A DVD player can be a real lifesaver, especially during the later stages of a journey. The only problem here is to make sure that the selected film appeals to all parties, or at least that each gets their own film and a slot allocated to it. Failure to do so could result in all-out war on the back seat.
Don't despair though as a long car journey with kids can be a pleasure for all concerned. The secret to success is preparation. Keep them fed, watered and entertained and your journey may well be stress-free.