Anyone who’s ever been in charge of kids will tell you that car trips are a challenge. Whether you’re about to drive across the state or across town, it seems like everything takes just a little longer with kids in tow. In turn, you get more frustrated, and so do they. But car rides don’t have to be a blight upon your day to day life as a parent. These ways to make car rides with kids smoother may not make car rides perfect, but they’ll help make them more possible!
Plan for Extra Time
Even on a day when everyone is well-behaved and in a good mood, the process of getting everyone ready and in the car just takes time. And if you’re pressed for time and stressed out, you’re going to start making mistakes, and everyone will get frustrated. That doesn’t set anyone up for a pleasant car ride. Whenever you’re planning on going anywhere, you should always factor in extra time depending on how many kids you have. If you only have one child, then five to ten extra minutes should suffice. If you have three or four, however, you may need an extra half hour.
Have a Car Ride Survival Kit
When it comes to very young children, distraction is the best way to make your kids’ car ride smoother. It’s best to be over-prepared with things for them to do. Invest in a dedicated duffel bag filled with things for the car, such as games, snacks, and other essential items like wet wipes, tissues, and paper towels that you can grab on your way out. You can get kids involved in this car ride routine by having them put one or two things in the bag on their way to the car.
Make the Car Comfortable
Even a kid with a bag full of distractions still won’t be a happy camper if they’re uncomfortable in the backseat. One way to help is by taking time to clean out your car’s interior once a month, then adding little hacks to keep it from getting dirty, such as using cupcake wrappers in the cupholders, floor mats, and a little trash can. That will help make the car feel pleasant for everyone, not to mention it will help you fight off germs. You can also add extra comforts, such as blankets during cold weather and handheld, dollar-store fans for hot weather.
Once your kids are out of booster seats, one of the biggest car ride fights that siblings encounter is where everyone will sit. Not only does this make getting into the car take longer, but it makes everyone grumpy for the whole trip. If this is true for your kids, start a seat rotation. That way, kids will already know what to expect before walking outside, and they will be able to practice turn-taking. But be sure to publicly post the car seat rotation and discuss whose turn it is in each seat. Otherwise, if you forget whose turn it is, it will lead to an even bigger fight.