Mad Dad: Fury Road – a How To Travel With Kids
At a petrol station in the middle of nowhere:
“Are you sure you don’t need the bathroom?”
Eldest, my eight-year old answers, “Yes Dad.”
Yeah right. I’ve heard this before…
“Last chance. Going once….going twice …?”
Ten kilometers down the road:
“Daddy I need a number two!” squeals Youngest, the four-year old.
There it is
“I asked you if you needed to go when we were filling up and both you girls said no.”
Eldest chimes in, “Dad I also need the loo.”
“BOTH of you? Can you hold it in?” My voice is barely keeping the edge of frustration in check. I ask, but I already know the answer.
“Daddy I CA-A-AN’T!” crocodile tears are brimming.
Wife breaks her silence. “I think we should go back and buy some supplies.”
Whose team are YOU on?? Does anybody else actually want to get there today?
I’m sure a good man would never sincerely consider leaving his family on the side of a national highway in rural South Africa. Perhaps he’ll think about it, or play with the idea and casually ponder a few what-if scenarios. I’m sure that falls within the parameters of being a good man, right?
Yes, don’t we all love the family road trip? No?
Well then here’s my How To Travel With Kids (without compromising your sanity):
First of all, there are some things you just cannot avoid. The kids will get bored. You will be reminded that everyone else has the bladder capacity of a green pea. There will be fights. You will threaten to stop the car (I still don’t know why we threaten with that particular action).
The night before
Some parents tell me they want their kids to be well rested from the night before or they’re grumpy on the road. Sorry to break it to you, but they’re going to be grumpy anyway. I personally let them stay up later than usual. They tend to fall asleep easier and for longer.
I leave at 4am. A little earlier if possible. No later. The wife wasn’t particularly fond of this initially but she’s come to accept this as a part of my MO. So every long road trip starts with me bundling my bleary-eyed family, Wife included, into the car with pillows and blankets, and within minutes they’re asleep again. My reasons are simple. 1. The roads are quieter. 2. A sizeable chunk of the journey is done while the family catches some sleep. This is desirable for obvious reasons. 3. It makes the trip feel far shorter than ,say, leaving later and travelling later into the afternoon. Those trips seem unending. 4. The earlier you get there the more time you have at your destination. An eight-hour trip, for example, is changed from a full day’s travelling to half a day by simply leaving earlier.
Pack food for the journey the night before, rather than relying on picking something up along the way. Sure, this isn’t as “exciting” as stopping for breakfast at some little hole in the wall en route, but you save money and (more importantly for men) time. The kids can also snack whenever they like and you aren’t subjected to the pleas of children you’d swear were on the brink of succumbing to starvation-induced dementia. The Wife and I usually pack a variety of cold meats, cheese, salad and chicken/beef sandwiches and buns. Also keep tabs on the kids’ fluid intake. If yours are anything like mine they’ll guzzle a gallon of juice simply for the sake of it. This will help with the loo breaks as well. Oh, and don’t forget the flask of strong coffee to keep you alert.
Activities are key. Have a variety available for them. Also make sure you have some of the family’s favourite music. My kids have a sudden affinity toward Abba. Super Troopers is also subsequently banned from my car.
Plan your stops in places where the kids can stretch their legs while you replenish your tank. It’s good for them and you.
Either consult your pharmacist or try the little home remedy of a quarter glass of flat cola before setting out.
I thought I would put this in here. Never are my kids in a moving vehicle without their seat safety belts on. Don’t let your kids bounce around the cabin. You’re risking their lives and you’re a downright irresponsible parent if you do.
My basic cubby-hole/glove compartment supplies kit includes: wetwipes, a roll of toilet paper, cash, water, basic medical kit.
Well, that’s my “how to” on basic road tripping with kids. I hope this helps soothe the road rage, prevents a divorce or two and maybe mitigates the “are we there yet” factor.
Any further tips would be appreciated. Au Revoir.