Drive safely – five tips to keep your kids entertained so you can focus on the road

We know that mobile phones can be dangerously distracting when you’re driving. But what about children? Read tips on how to stay safe when you’re on the school run.

If you’ve ever spent time in the car with kids, you know how chaotic a journey can get. But driving with restless children isn’t only frustrating – it’s dangerous.

According to research conducted by motoring experts Confused.com, when behind the wheel, parents say they find children more distracting than their mobile phones.

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One in five admit that having young ones in the car impacts on their driving ability, compared to only 2% who are affected by social media notifications.

So how can we silence the bickering in the backseat so we can keep our eyes on the road?

Five tips to keep your kids entertained on the road

Regardless of whether you’re on the morning school run or a cross-country expedition, these five tips will help you ensure each journey is smooth, serene and, above all, safe.

1) Nip restlessness in the bud

The best way to prevent your kids from distracting you is to make sure they’re calm before they step foot into the car. The last thing you need is for them to feel hyperactive or wound up before you set off, especially if you’ve got a long journey ahead.

Switch off the TV, put away the toys and take them for a walk or burn off some energy at the park before you pile in. If they’re young enough to stay glued to their favourite teddy or blanket, ensure they’ve got them nearby after they’re buckled up.

With a bit of pre-planning, and a little luck, you’ll have snoozing angels in the backseat before you leave the driveway!

2) Tame them with music

Before you set off, sit down with your passengers and create a playlist. Allow everyone to choose a few of their favourite songs and compile them to listen to during the journey. Make it a rule that if someone complains about a song that they don’t like, their next choice gets skipped!

This presents some great singalong opportunities, and can keep the kids calm as they listen out for their tracks, allowing you to focus on the road. And don’t forget to include a few of your own favourite go-to belters, too!

3) Captivate them with a story

What if you could get from A to B and indulge in a bit of literary wisdom along the way?

Audiobooks are a simple way to keep the kids captivated while you navigate the traffic. Choose something age-appropriate that everyone can enjoy and integrate it into your journey. Aim to finish a chapter a day along the school route, or listen during staggered hours to break up a long journey.

If you’ve got more than one listener in the back seat, make a ‘reading’ rota or create an awards system that allows the best behaved passenger to choose the next book. You’ll be a rolling library before you know it!

4) Play a game

There are enough road trip games to keep your kids busy from Inverness to Plymouth. From I-Spy to anagram registration numbers, your surroundings can entertain your passengers. Amp up the competition and prepare your games in advance, with prizes for the champion. Here are our favourites:

  • Scavenger hunt – come up with a list of things for the kids to look out for on your journey, ranging from predictable (sheep in a field, a shop with seats outside) to unusual (a pink van, someone singing in their car). Get the kids to work together, with the promise of a reward once they’ve completed the list.
  • Don’t say the word – choose a word you’re likely to hear (‘mum’ works well!) and set it as off-limits for the duration of the trip. The first one to utter it loses. Keep track of who has the most slip-ups, purely for teasing rights!
  • Tell a tale – challenge you children to collaborate on making up a story – every passenger contributes a sentence at a time. Make it more interesting by setting a time limit and having a list of words that must be included somewhere in the plot.

5) Have a back-up plan

Sometimes all the creativity in the world can’t appease a rowdy passenger. Make sure you have a back-up plan for when the sulks settle in – prepare a binder full of colouring sheets and word puzzles, keep a stash of emergency snacks and, if all else fails, pull out a tablet or DVD player to buy yourself a few moments of peace.

Stay safe on the road

Whether you need to gain control of the backseat during your routine car trips, or you’re dreading the long road stretching ahead on your next family road trip, there’s a solution to entertain your restless passengers.

And with a little bit of preparation and a whole lot of patience, we hope you all stay safe on the road!