Travelling with kids and why it’s okay to be bored
When I was a kid road trips in the family car were boring… and that was okay, but now we’ve got to be ‘connected’ to survive a drive.
WHEN I WAS a kid our family car was a coke-bottle looking Mazda 929. It was a mini-Mustang in red. It had two doors and just enough room inside for four people, if two of those four were kids. That car had AM and FM radio… and that was it.
That meant that driving from Bathurst (where I was born and raised) to Sydney (The Big Smoke) which was a three-hour-plus drive back then was boring. And while I’m sure I drove my parents spare with games of eye spy or questions, like: ‘Are we there yet?’ or pinching or punching my sister before claiming: ‘It wasn’t me,’ being bored was just part of growing up. As was counting windmills when on a long country drive.
Fast forward to now and I’ve got kids of my own and still enjoy road trips with them. Um, sure, let’s go with enjoy.
But, just when did the world go from being happy to stare out the window (if a passenger) or not answer a phone call… I seem to remember that was the great pleasure when my parents were on holiday… work couldn’t get hold of them. No mobile phones, see.
Now, when I’m testing a car I ferret around in the front and back seats looking for USB outlets and check how easy it is to sync my phone to the car. It’s becoming more common for cars to act as Wi-Fi hotspots and piggy back off Google Earth for sat-nav. What the ?!
Do we really need to be Keeping Up With The Kardashians while driving away on holidays, or even just to the supermarket? Do we really need internet connections in our cars? Are our lives that ‘connected’ that if we’re disconnected for an hour or two that the world will stop turning? Oh, but hang on, we’re not disconnected, because our smartphones are connected to the Internet… Arrrgh.
Just the other day I asked my son what he thought the best car he’d been in this year and he responded, the one with the TV in the headrest. Right. Sure. Not the one that sounded cool, or was that great colour, or the 4×4? No, the one with the TV in the headrest… oh, but the one with the big sunroof wasn’t too bad. I call that a result.
See, he liked that one because he could watch the water droplets streaming backwards and take bets with himself on which one would win… That’s the sort of thing I used to do as a kid.
In the lead up to the Easter school holidays I was watching one of those morning news programs and, as my brain cells slowly died, I couldn’t help but begin yelling at the TV when some person from a mummy blog site was interviewed about taking a road trip with kids. I hope you’re sitting down. The first thing that came out of this person’s mouth was… ‘make sure the tablet is fully charged. WTF?! The second was, ‘portable DVD players are great for keeping the kids quiet’.
Not once did this so-called-by-herself ‘expert’ suggest letting the kids stare out the window and be bored.
Forget all of the bollocks you read about road trips with kids on mummy blogs, the only thing you need to know is that most kids can handle being ‘stuck’ in a car for about two hours before they start going nuts… So, do this, just stop after two hours and let the kids get out and run around for five minutes… The kids get some fresh air, burn off some energy and so will you. We’ve survived numerous road trips from the Blue Mountains to Adelaide with the kids by doing this.
So, go on a road trip like we used to as kids and let your kids look out the window and count windmills. Let them play eye-spy. Let them doze off in the car. Let them to listen to music and sing in the car.