I’ve just been tweeting a response to toyatoGB@toyotaGB as they asked in conjunction with Mumsnet@MumsnetTower and Mumsnet Blog Network@MumsnetBloggers ‘How do you keep your little ones occupied in the car?’
Now. I’ve been a parent for 10 years next month and believe me I really wanted to come up with the shiny/fabulous/wise/ and above all ANSWER to that long asked question but sadly no, there isn’t one really. Some days the boys behave and read a bit, chat a bit and look about them in awe and wonder at their surroundings outside the car. Sometimes they ask fab questions and we have long conversations about ‘How it feels just at that point when you’re just about to go to sleep’ or (my personal favourite) ‘What was the name of the first caveman Mummy??? What do you mean you don’t know -shall we Google it when we get home?’
But most of the time they argue, whine, throw things at each other, argue a bit more, start to shout ‘Willy!!!, Bum!!! and POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!’ whilst I am trying to get them to calm down and not shout/argue/fight and whine.
Nothing and I say nothing has ever worked.
I wanted to tweet ‘There is no magic solution so just get used to hideous journeys with your children…’
But I felt for these lovely parents who tweeted sensible responses like ‘We have a ‘see who can make their sweet last the longest’ competition. Our son’s longest is 35 minutes’
Really?? Your child would have a sweet in their mouth for 35 minutes???
Mine would never.
Those who say ‘I just put on their CD of songs and off we go!’ I think they have obviously never travelled with not only my children by Hubbie too as he is almost ready to drive into the nearest layby, abandon us all and walk the rest of the 200 odd miles to his mother’s. Nope, children’s songs with their merry little voices and oh so chirpy tunes on loop for 4 hours is NOT what either of us can put up with.
‘Sleeping lions’ (in a car??) was another suggestion and ‘sponsored silence.’ But I thought the most oddest one was ‘Put the contents of playdough in a zip lock bag and have them mush to make playdough as they ride’
Clearly they don’t have a Henry in their family either who would open the bag in a heart beat and ‘mush’ it all around his face, clothes, the car, carpet etc etc and then we’d hear a ‘Mummy… look at me…..’
Armagedon would then ensue with Hubbie pulling over into another layby, abanding us and walking to his mothers.
Nope lovely enthusiastic people when your children get older it gets more difficult and the more difficult it gets the more dangerous you seem to drive as you’re negotiating arguments ‘No Tobes, I don’t think Hen really meant you were a toad, I just think he was calling you one?’ and ‘Ollie!!!! Will you stop tormenting Tobes’ It’s dangerous and this is where the fun ends…
I need my boys to behave in the car as I need to concentrate on the road. We are bombarded with signals, signs, other car uses, cycles that come up on the inside that you might not see, motorbikes that weave in and out of traffic and concentration is needed for those long traffic jams on the M6 on the way to Hubbie’s mothers (that’s if he hasn’t got out and walked). I can punish bad car behaviour at home, I can take away things, I could even promise the earth but nothing has yet changed their behaviour and I liken this to the school I worked at that had impeccable behaviour inside the school but get those angels on the school bus and the driver could tell you a very different story.
I use technology to bribe my children and this works for us all. The boys are happy and so are Hubbie and I and, dare I say it, long journeys are actually beginning to be quite pleasant.
We have those fold down DVD players in the car that fold flush into the ceiling when you don’t use them and the deal is that the boys aren’t allowed them on at all unless it’s a long journey and then they get to watch films for the length of that journey. We have bought headphones for them so don’t have to listen to the ‘Wheels on the Bus’ or Disney’s ‘Cars’ (for the umpteenth time) but they get to watch something they like. Hubbie and I can then either have the radio on in the front with some music or we can chat. This we have found is so much safer rather than turning round to try to sort out whatever’s going on. Eldest son will read as he can in the car -the other 2 can’t -or he’ll play his ipod touch.
Children using technology seems to have a really bad reputation but I suppose that’s only if they are on it all the time. My guys love Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Xbox games and also watching DVD’s, the TV and using all of the lovely devices offered by Apple. This is how the world is moving and to ask them to sit for 4 hours in a car without any form of entertainment when you think about all they normally have to occupy them is slightly unrealistic. Most adults will now have a phone glued to their hand that they text on or play games on if they are a passenger in the car so I really don’t expect the children to be quiet but on the flip side neither am I a children’s entertainer and neither can I put up with listening to stories and songs when I’ve done that for years. Yes, my guys watch DVD’s and really look forward to it as it’s such a treat and if that keeps us all safe whilst I drive long distances then really, if I’m honest, I’m all for it…