Nothing fills a parent with dread quite like the prospect of a long car journey with children.
You might have a baby who is likely to scream the entire journey because they aren’t attached to any breasts.
Or a toddler who is almost certainly going to shout with rage for most of the journey because she hates her seat belt.
Or an older child who will definitely chat endless amounts of nonsense for the entire journey.
Whatever age your children are, car journeys can often suck. In fact, they’re the worst thing about going anywhere.
It’s almost enough to make you sell the car and stay at home forever. Almost…but then the lure of the beach eventually wins…again.
Here are 10 thoughts all parents have on long car journeys:
#1: Why Did I Let Her Choose The Toys?
As every parent knows, forward planning is the key to avoiding meltdowns. That means filling every spare inch of space with as many toys, snacks and crayons as you can cram in for long car journeys. If you open the car window to let some air in, Lego blocks should spill onto the motorway. That’s how full your car should be. After all, this is about your family’s survival.
As you may also know, another trick to avoiding meltdowns is to give your child control. Let her choose which toys she wants to take for the car. Except don’t, because she will definitely choose a recorder, whistle and xylophone, because she hates long car journeys and isn’t thrilled you’re making her go on another one.
#2: Remember Naps?
Ah, naps. Those were the days, right? You would set off at naptime, the child would sleep, hell, even you would have a nap whilst your partner did the driving. Life was good. Easy. Headache free. That time is over. There are no more naps.
Now it’s just four long hours of torture-by-recorder.
#3: Oh God. We’re Low On Snacks. How Is That Even Possible?!
Before setting off, you packed approximately eight million snacks. The driver cannot see through the windscreen due to all of the boxes of raisins balancing on his knee. He can’t see through the back window, because you piled it high with fruit and nut bars, and you look like Carmen Miranda because you had to wear the fruit bowl as a hat to fit it into the car.
You packed every bit of food you could find in the house, including out-of-date items because you were so terrified at the thought of running out of snacks. And yet, here you are, not even at the end of your street and already you are out of snacks. Your eating-machine of a child ate through anything and everything she could lay her hands on, took one bite and moved onto something else. Much like the very hungry caterpillar, if the very hungry caterpillar was out to ruin your day.
#4: I’m Buying A New Car
Thirty minutes into the journey and you’ll be on the phone to your bank trying to work out a finance deal so you can buy a new car. You know, one of the ones with television screens in the back. And DVD players. And games consoles. And, maybe a screen between the front and back so you could close it sometimes. Ok, all the time.
Hmmm, maybe you could pick up a new car on route! That, my friends, is clearly the solution. And who cares if you can’t afford it? Can you really put a price on SANITY?
#5: You Cannot Be Bored
Before leaving the house, you spent about three hours making sure that each and every ‘favourite toy’ was packed in the car. There was no room for the suitcase in the end, thanks to all the toys. But you thought it was worth it, as long as it meant you could survive the journey. Who needs holiday clothes anyway? You have packed activity books, colouring books, drawing paper, story books, construction toys, small world toys, a threading set, a magnetic play book, seven soft toys, three dolls, one police officer hat and a tea set.
You thought that would easily provide four hours of entertainment. You were wrong, so wrong. Before you’ve even reached the next town, your child has played with and discarded each and every toy you packed. And has already started moaning about being bored.
#6: Me Too!
When your child is fighting with the straps on her car seat, kicking you in the face and generally acting like a person in serious need of an exorcist, there is no room for compassion. Why? Because you feel the exact same way.
You have no leg room thanks to all the discarded toys, you are sat in a car that stinks of mushed up banana, and you are desperate for a wee, but daren’t stop at a service station in case you can’t convince your child to get back in the car seat again. Oh, and someone keeps shouting at you, kicking you in the back and screaming in your face.
Far from offering loving support and empathy, you will simply scream ‘Me too!’ and then burst into tears. Like a broken person.
#7: This Holiday Destination Better Be Good
Not because you want the journey to be worthwhile, but because you have just made a vow never ever to step foot in a car again. You simply cannot go home. Ever. You will live on holiday for the rest of your life.
Maybe you will open up a nice cocktail bar on the beach. You will sell your car and travel everywhere by foot. You will wear flowers in your hair. You will never again be a car person.
#8: No, We’re Not There Yet
That’s what you shall say, calmly and sweetly. But in your head, there will be a lot of swears. Why?
Because you are one hour into a four hour journey and you have already answered that dreaded question seventeen times. The first time, it was funny. Like on the movies! The second, not so much. The seventeenth? You’re wishing you brought tranquilisers on the journey. Not for the kids, obviously, but for you.
#9: I Wish I Hadn’t Checked My Phone
When you’re in charge of keeping the kids entertained on a four journey (read: have the worst job imaginable), you won’t be keeping track of how far into the journey you are. Every so often, you’ll find yourself trying to work out how much longer this horrendous expedition might last. Surely just another thirty minutes at most, you think foolishly.
Then you check on your phone, and the smug Sat Nav woman informs you that you are five hours away from your destination. Yep, that’s one hour longer than when you set off. Oh, erm, your partner took a wrong turn a while back. Ooops.
#10: Soon There Will Be Wine
This is your mantra. You will think it over and over during the four hour nightmare that is the journey. Long before your bum goes dead, your child completely loses it, and you mentally divorce your partner for taking a wrong turn, you will be thinking this. You will spend the journey fantasising about the glass of wine that waits for you at your destination. It is your ‘good work!’ sticker, and like a child in preschool, you get it even if you’ve done a crap job of keeping the kids ‘quiet’ and ‘happy’ in the car.