Two little words that for some parents elicits images of an exciting adventure, time out and holiday fun…
For others it sends a shiver down their spine, it’s the stuff of nightmares!
If you are a parent who falls into the first category then I wish you well and I hope you thoroughly enjoy all the ‘road trip’ adventures you have in your lifetime with your children.
I, however, am strongly in the second camp. For me a car trip longer than twenty minutes truly is a daytime nightmare. Not because I don’t love adventures and holidays but rather because I have children who do not enjoy being in a car.
And I suspect there are a few of us with this delightful little challenge?!
My eldest has always been a rambunctious little thing. Car time was not enjoyed for more than five minutes because it presented far too much confinement and minimal activity options. So what did I do? Because you can’t get by never going outside of a 1km radius from home… or can you? I actually did contemplate this in my early days of motherhood and probably made it a reality some weeks but this is of course was not sustainable and not ideal.
So I had to get inventive. I had the usual bribery snacks on hand and what I thought would be a good number of ‘toys’ to maintain a safe level of entertainment. Time and again this level of planning failed me within the first half hour.
Food got eaten too quickly and toys were dropped by clumsy toddler hands, unable to be picked up when my two hands were on the steering wheel.
So we had to think outside the box and this is how we discovered our Car Challenges and the beauty of a rear view mirror.
Here are a few of our saving graces:
1. Tongue twister- I make a funny noise by moving my tongue a certain way e.g. sticking it out and then moving it side to side. Your child should be able to see you in the rear vision mirror and they can try and copy. If you have two plus in the car then let the eldest go first and the younger can try and copy them.
This is fun and can be a great way to encourage jaw strength and tongue manipulation to aid in speech development.
2. Funny Faces: Practise making different exaggerated facial expressions and letting your child copy or else you pick one for them to do. For example you might tell them to try for a confused face or excited face.
This game helps with social emotional development as your child is improving their ability to identify the facial expressions of others as well use facial expressions themselves to communicate how they may be feeling.
3. Motor Mouth: Try saying a little sentence to your child that is in nonsense language. They are likely to find this hilarious. Particularly if you try for intonation that is a part of your everyday speech. For example ‘shing balla moo moo?’, go for an inflection at the end like you’re asking a question and exaggerate it as much as you can.
This game has everyone in our house in fits of giggles. We often play it at dinner time just for a bit of a laugh. It is both entertaining and can help develop your child’s understanding and use of gesture and intonation when they are communicating.
4. Nursery rhymes: Have a few up your sleeve for those last few minutes that drag and drag… a few favourites that help us out. Wheels on the bus, Old McDonald, The ants go marching and Open shut them (normal and silly versions)
Kids love the sound of an adult singing to them. It can be very soothing and a good distraction. Nursery rhymes also happen to be great for developing early language development.
So the next time you’re in the car and it all goes to custard, don’t loose your bananas try the above. I hope it helps!
If it does not, then my condolences are with you… you have a long few years ahead of you.
But comfort yourself with this thought, as I do on the days when absolutely NOTHING stops the crying, whinging and screaming in the car turned jail cell… one day, your child will be old enough to drive and then you’ll be able to go on ‘road trips’ again… in separate cars! : )