[dropcap]I[/dropcap] don’t want to boast you guys, but the other week I pulled into a McDonald’s at 10.28am during a 100-mile solo drive back from Sussex and still managed to place an order for a Sausage and Egg McMuffin before breakfast ended.
Unconfirmed reports that I might be superwoman.
But seriously, I have been doing quite a lot of road trips with the baby recently and I haven’t actually cried during any of them so I think I might be doing something right?
Obviously as always with my parenting tips, these are the things which work for us, so do take ’em with a pinch of salt.
If you don’t already own a little car mirror that attaches to one of the backseat head rests so that you can see whether your baby is asleep/crying/wrestling an eagle that has flown through the window, then I highly recommend.
I bought this one for a tenner at Amazon and it makes me feel better knowing that I can see what he’s up to whilst I’m mosying down the M25.
2. Leave when the baby is due to sleep.
I know of other parents who plan their long drives for the night time so that it coincides with bedtime, which is a v strong idea.
I prefer daytime driving (lol at me) so aim to leave just as Atti is due his first nap of the day. I find he tends to sleep a little longer in the car than he does his cot, so usually get a solid two hours of him out for the count which makes for a wonderfully calm start to the journey.
3. Some toys attached to car seat.
My main mistake with road trips is forgetting to attach toys to the car seat and just dumping them on his lap and lol sure he’s dropped them and screaming and I can’t reach them.
So yeah, don’t do that.
4. iPad holder.
Now, at seven months, Atti can barely understand what the TV is – but nonetheless I went ahead and purchased a little iPad holder for the car which fits on the headrest in front of him (in the same place as our car mirror).
Whilst I don’t use it for short journeys, I did whip it out for the second-leg of our five-hour jolly up to Cheshire last week, more to appease my own mum guilt than anything.
I should have downloaded a few episodes of something but lol sure obvs forgot, but managed to hot spot my iPad to my phone and stream endless episodes of Paw Patrol on Netflix.
If nothing else it gave him a bit of background noise and something to look at other than his own hands.
5. Use Google Maps.
I like to pride myself on my ability to get places without a Sat Nav (probably based on the fact my Dad used to drive to Poland based purely on memory and the odd look at a map when a new motorway suddenly popped up), but have recently switched over to the dark side because CAN YOU IMAGINE GETTING STUCK IN AN ENGINES-OFF TRAFFIC JAM WITH A SCREAMING BABY.
No thank you.
I mean you don’t have to use Google Maps if you have some kinda fancy Sat Nav, but I use it on my phone (in a phone holder) for every long-ish journey now – not for directions, but because it’s pretty fucking speedy at giving you updates and new routes when traffic changes and I am very much here for that.
6. The ’emergency pouch’.
This is a cute little canvas pouch that I fill with all the necessities (mine’s a cute lil leaf print one from Elizabeth Scarlett) and have to hand at all times.
I refill it whenever we go on a long journey or into London and it has: five nappies, nappy sacks, pack of wipes, spare dummy, Calpol sachets (found these at a Boots at Southend Airport), Calpol spoon and Bonjela.
When we get out at service stations, I just fling this, as well as a bottle of milk into my bag and go, rather than faffing with an entire changing bag.
Now that Atti is a bit bigger I’ve also stopped taking him out the car in his seat – he goes straight onto my hip and we’re away.
7. Leave extra time.
This is an obvious one but a v important one.
If you leave extra time then there is literally no stress when your baby is screaming because guess what guys? YOU CAN JUST PULL OVER.
I’ve swung into petrol stations and lay-bys to replace dummies and administer Bonjela, and – as mentioned at the start of this post – I’ve also just thought FUUUUUCK IT LET’S GET BREAKFAST because we weren’t in a rush and why the heck not?!
Not sure how much the kid understands, but I like to think it’s a good habit to get into now anyway.
But yes, the ol’ communication thing. If Atti starts whimpering then I’ll talk to him about what’s happening. It’s usually me yelling lines like ‘MUMMY IS LOOKING FOR A SERVICE STATION AND THEN SHE’LL FEED YOU’ or ‘WE HAVE ONLY ONE ROUNDABOUT AND ONE ROAD LEFT AND THEN WE’LL BE THERE. YOU GOT THIS, NOT MUCH LONGER CUTIE.’
9. Research your services.
You know me, I bloody love a good service station. And, it sounds silly but a quick Google in bed the night before your drive will throw up all the good ones and mean you’ll have a rough idea of places you could stop. Because let’s face it, stopping at a services with a Pret would be excellent news all round.
Also – petrol. I always try and fill up at the very start of our journey from one of two petrol stations I have stored in my head – one is pay at the pump and the other is DRIVE THRU. Either way, v helpful with a snoozy baby.
And that’s about it? Anyone else got any strong tips they wanna hook me up with?