Every parent knows that children require a lot of your attention a lot of the time. However, when you are driving, then that needs to take precedence over your children's demands.
It's challenging to keep your attention away from your children and focussed on the road, even though you know it is for their own safety as well as that of other road users. This is especially true when they are bored on a long journey.
Here's some advice for how to keep your children occupied so they are not disturbing your concentration.
Bring another adult
As driving and looking after children takes up a lot of attention it's best to make it a job for two people. So, if you can, have another adult travel with you and task them with keeping the children occupied.
For example, if you are going on a family trip away then get your partner to take over childcare duties while you are driving. You could also swap driving responsibilities half way through the trip if you can find somewhere safe to stop and you're both insured on the same car.
Give children activities
While driving might be fun for you, for children it can be an incredibly boring activity that their parents say has to happen every now and again. Therefore, if you leave them in the back of the car with nothing to do but sit there then you can't really blame them for getting restless, fidgety and for starting to complain.
Make sure you pack activities for them to do while you are on the road. If they have a book that they're currently reading at school then bring that. You could take colouring books and a set of crayons so that their brains are engaged with that while you're travelling.
If they have a hand-held console, such as a Nintendo 3DS, then you should have little trouble getting them to agree that they should take this to keep them occupied while you are travelling. They may well have a game that they've been working on for a while and wish to carry on with it. However, make sure you have charged the console before heading on a long journey because if it runs out of battery while you are travelling then you will have a bored and annoyed child on your hands.
It's always worth bringing a back-up activity in case this happens. One thing you could do is get an activity book that is for the car only and you could keep it in the door pocket or in the back of a passenger seat so that they can access it quickly. That way, your child will have something to look forward to when they are going on a journey. What's more, you won't have the pressure of remembering to bring something for your child to do every time you head out of the house.
Consider letting your children watch a film while you are driving too. That should easily keep them occupied for around two hours, although younger children may be tricky to engage for this long. If you have a tablet then you could allow them to watch films on this, or a portable DVD player, or some cars have screens built into the back of passenger headrests.
Unfortunately, while these activities are great fun for children and likely to keep them from distracting your attention, they do not work so well if your child is prone to travel sickness.
Children who get travel sick often need to stay focussed on the road to stop this from happening, therefore following the above activities would result in them being ill and causing distractions for you again.
However, that doesn't take away from the fact that these children will still get bored when they have nothing to do in the car but stare at the road.
So remember old classic games like I Spy as a means of keeping them occupied. It is still likely to require your attention but not quite as much. If you have a couple of children in your car or another adult then get them to play the game among themselves.
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