Easter is just around the corner, everyone’s favourite mysterious date shifting holiday. 4 days off work, fresh warm hot cross buns, and if you can think of it you can bet someone’s made a chocolate version of it. There’s not a lot to not like about Easter. But if you’ve ever been stuck on the freeway in an Easter Thursday night or Good Friday morning traffic jam for longer than you thought an eternity could last, that warm fuzzy holiday goodness and cheer can crumble faster than you can say “I only put on 2kg this Easter.”
At this point you’ll be acutely aware that this is the most popular time of year for West Australians to hit the road and get away from home for a holiday. For thousands of young kids this means hours on end trapped in the back seat of the car. Too small to see much out the windows, the front seats are so big that you can’t what’s ahead, and even then sometimes it’s just not worth seeing. Oh look, another tree. Just like the last one. We’ve all been that kid. Remember that feeling? That’s when you learned how long that aforementioned eternity lasts.
Bored kids with zero stimulation invariably leads to small raised voices and hollow threats (“I’ll turn this car around right now!”) and that can make the whole trip seem a bit too hard. But with a little bit of preparation you’ve got a good chance of avoiding that. Consider this a starter kit:
The cheapest and easiest of the bunch, you can come up with these on the fly. Children have amazing imaginations and it’s prime time to explore them. If they know a bit about where they’re going, ask what they can’t wait to do, where they want to go, who they want to see, are there going to be any cool animals? Heading to the beach? How big is that sand castle going to be?
Let them choose their own distraction. Kids getting too much screen time is a popular concern these days but this is the scenario they were made for. Give them a movie or an audio book and bathe in the serenity.
Yes these are still a thing! This is the exact reason why. Any online or bricks and mortar toy store will have a great selection of these for under $20. The ubiquitous Uno, Connect Four, Battle Ship and many many others are out there. They might not take up the whole trip but they’re certainly going to buy you some time.
For younger kids, sneak a few of their favourite toys into the glovebox or a bag and “discover” them at an opportune moment.
Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to pull over and get that ice cream or see that cool thing over there. If the kids are getting irritable it just might stave off any potential fireworks. Besides, we all know the dangers of driving tired, a quick stop will do you some good.
Whether it’s fruit, sugar free lollies, or anything in between, this can be a surprisingly effective distraction. A lolly every 5 kms will have them looking out for the mile markers, and they just might find something interesting to look at among all those trees too. Why sugar free lollies you ask? Firstly, they’re better for you and secondly, nobody needs to endure a sugar high in a confined space!
With any luck, they’ll be able to sleep in the car but it can be pretty hard to get comfortable. A rolled up towel or jumper will be up to the task also.
Try and keep your ideas under wraps and bring them out one at a time as the need arises. If you give a kid a laptop, a deck of cards, and a bag of fruit you can guarantee they won’t see the cards or fruit until you unpack the car. Strategy is the key.