Wednesday, July 27, 2011

16 hour road trip alone with 3 young children, Help!

I need help - I’m trying to plan a 16 hour car journey with my 3 youngest children (9, 6 and 3).  In 3 weeks I’ll be setting off on the nearly 1200km journey from our home in South West France to visit family in South East England.  My husband is staying here to hold the fort and so I’m journeying as the sole driver with James 9 – who’s incredibly good unless he’s bored, when he turns into the biggest teaser and tormentor of his younger brother Luc who needs no encouragement whatsoever.  Luc is the cheekiest, liveliest, most hot tempered, noisiest, “boy-est”, lovable, toothless 6 year old you could ever wish to meet.  The youngest, Frankie, is 3 going on 13 and she is the stubbornest, sweetest, winiest, cutest, tallest, girliest child I know.  Individually they are brilliant kids, but together they spell BIG TROUBLE. 

What am I thinking of?  Even 10 minute journeys to the supermarket turn into major battlefields.  Luc’s kicking James, James is hitting Luc over the head, Frankies trying to avoid the blows.  Or, Frankie’s singing the most annoying made up song in the world and Luc’s joining in, James is screaming at them to stop and the more he screams the louder they sing.  I start off with “Come on, stop it now please”, progressing to a slightly firmer “That’s enough now”, to a more irritated “Will you pack it in”, to a slightly crazed “If you don’t stop it I’m going to turn round and go home”, to a final crescendo of “SHUUUUUUT UPPPPPP!”  Sometimes my screams do the trick, but rarely for long and I’m sure they’re doing me no good at all. 

So, how on earth are we going to survive such a long journey in tact?  I can’t scream all the way to England, I’m going to have to think of something else.   Here’s what I’m planning so far. 

We’ll be leaving fairly early in the morning (about 6am), so that I can get to Calais to catch our ferry at 8pm. 

Plan 1 – get them tired out the day before with a really long walk or something.  Bed at the usual time, then up early, so hopefully they’ll be tired out and sleep some of the way.  I know that the most I can hope for though is maybe 2 or 3 hours of peace (if I’m lucky), so that just leaves about 11 or 12 hours to fill before we get to Calais.

Plan 2 – DVD’s – I’ll take a few new DVDs and some old favourites, that always keeps them amused for a while, but again I don’t think I’ll get more than 2 or 3 hours of peace this way, so that leaves 9 or 10 hours to fill.

Plan 3 – take lots of food, snacks and drinks to keep us all going.  I’ll have to stop several times, so I’m going to try and pack some really yummy food – maybe get them all to help make it and choose what to take.  This should take up about couple of hours in total, leaving 8 hours to fill.

Plan 3 – I’m going to make up some CDs of music for the journey and let the children choose their favourites.  We can sing along with these to break the boredom and they’ll enjoy choosing them in the lead up to the holiday.  This should hopefully fill another couple of hours over the course of the journey which now leaves me 6 hours to fill.

Plan 4 – I’m going to try and think of a number of games we can play at various stages of the trip – memory games like “I went to the shops and bought a ..., but perhaps I’ll make it “In may bag for England I packed a .....” and a few other games that I can bring up from time to time to diffuse arguments and allay the boredom.    Hopefully that may take up another hour or 2, so that just leaves me 4 hours to fill.

Hmmmm I’m running out of ideas now.  How can I fill these last 4 hours?  Has anyone else out there had to take a long journey with children?  How did you cope?  Any bright ideas of things to while away the hours?  Please, I’m getting desperate.....

I’ll let you know how I get on.


  1. We do a similar journey every year.
    but with one more child and one adult.
    I severely ration TV/nintendos and Ipads for the week before hand so they keep the kids interested as much as possible on the trip. Get some new DVD's if possible , as well as some old favourites.
    Do you have a iphone or similar? There is a good app called road trip bingo, but if you google 'road trip bingo', you will get less high tech versions.
    The 9 year old might like a map, plus a travel guide of france so he can look up the places you might travel through.
    Good luck.

  2. Thanks for the tips Jacq, I read through your blog - looks like you have it well organised. Thanks for the tip on Road Trip Bingo - looks like a good idea - I don't have an Iphone, but I'll print some out off the internet and give it a go.

  3. DVDs and video games are our standby for our 12 hour trips - plus lots of stops to run around. Good luck!!

  4. Thanks Happy Homemaker, the 9 year old has his DS and I've been hunting out the old game boy for my 6 year old and he's loving it, so hopefully that will see him though some of the journey. I've also decided to split the journey over 2 days now so that I can stop more often for them to let off steam (and me):)