under control faced with the ressures of busy roads, bored children and the occassional back-seat driver?
If travelling with children, the enjoyment for both children and parents (after all many parents are just big kids at heart) comes from the looking forward to the holiday and then spending time on the actual holiday itself. If planned properly another enjoyable time for all the family can be the journey. After all, though it may be tedious, it is still part of the holiday.
Whatever type of holiday you decide to have and what transport you use – whether boat, plane, train, coach or private car – the same applies for each and every one of us for every holiday. Pressures can build up, stresses can lead to anger raising it's head then there are the delays and the roadworks or holdups.
This is just the getting from A to Bin one piece without getting angry and feeling like you hadn't bothered.
Planning your trip well can mean that this part of the holiday can be enjoyed too! The same goes for the return journey – though probably not as much as the drudge of every day life can often come back into view for many.
I would guess that everyone can think of at least one example of a hellish journey and needless to say I don’t need to go into detail. However, from much personal experience and from friends and family, here are a few suggestions for getting smoothly from A to B with kids.
Anger Survival Rule 1. Plan Ahead
Think about what you will need to take, the best route, the most appropriate type of transport and ensure that there is enough room for everybody. Heaven knows there’s nothing worse than being in a squashed car for hours and hours on end. Likewise if you forget to include one of the kids when using a coach, train or plane, you will come a little unstuck.
Anger Survival Rule 2. Pack Early
Having booked all the tickets, accommodation and whatever else, the next step is to BUY EVERYTHING YOU NEED A FEW DAYS BEFORE SETTING-OFF. This allows time for shopping around for the best price (especially important in the current financial climate) and allows you to find that item you need but no shop seems to stock.
Packing-up always seems to be stressful even when things are going to plan and with children around, seems to be even more stressful. Therefore PACKING AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE CAN AVOID LAST MINUTE PANIC. Of course packing too early is not practical, but the earlier the better. Packing cases and bags a day (or two if really pushing it) allows time to calmly check everyone has what they need. This not only allows you to do this calmly and take time but also allows for any items needed to be bought from the shops and any clothing for the holiday to be salvaged from the washing and ironing pile.
Anger Survival Rule 3. Leave Enough Time
Now here’s the classic tip that sounds easy in theory but can be very difficult to do on the day. This is TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ON TIME. When planning what time to leave, always try to make the time half-an-hour or an hour before the comfortable leaving time as I can virtually guarantee that somebody in the household will be late and you will end up missing this time. Being earlier acts as a sort of ‘buffer insurance time’ whereby being late should still mean you leave the house with plenty of time to spare. When planning a time to leave, you should also think about the length of the journey and plan for any delays i.e. traffic jams, rest/toilet stops and everything else.
Anger Survival Rule 4. Check you switched off the iron
Before setting out there is the small matter of CHECKING YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED. Items could be ticked off from a list (for the very well organised that is) or simply done by checking that everything has been picked up from the pile of stuff in the hallway. While some things can be picked up en-route or while on holiday (which may be the case for food and heavier toiletries, forgetting essential items such as train tickets, booking confirmations and passports would be disastrous and would involve a panicked journey back home, much expense and probably much disappointment.
Anger Survival Rule 5. Prepare for every eventuality
While on the subject of things to take, CARRYING A FIRST AID KIT is often overlooked but is important – especially when travelling with young children who by nature tend to be more accident prone. While a First Aid Kit is not practical when travelling by plane (what with all the item restrictions and the plane having one on board anyway), a simple First Aid Kit is a good thing to have when travelling by car (in more remote areas) and more generally. This does not have to be a mobile pharmacy, which would be a nightmare to carry around (and probably be left in the caravan/hotel), but just a few simple items such as plasters, anti-septic cream and so-on, is never in the way and not too much to carry around.
Anger Survival Rule 6. Entertainment
Thence comes the journey itself. No matter how old the children are or indeed for we adults, TAKE SOMETHING TO ENTERTAIN EVERYONE. What is classed as entertainment differs for everyone, especially for children of different ages and when using different types of transport. Whatever the type of journey, something to occupy everyone is a good idea. In these days of hi-tech gadgets, this could be an MP3 player, mobile phone or hand-held computer. Then again, the traditional book can be just as good, as can traditional word games (I-Spy is probably not very ideal on a plane though) – and whatever you do, stay away from the ‘99 bottles standing on a wall’ song!
Anger Survival Rule 7. Take a rest
If possible, TRY TO TAKE LOTS OF REST STOPS. This is important when travelling by car and not by train or plane. Not only does this allow for everyone to use the toilet, but also gives everyone in the car a chance to stretch their legs – and should also allow for the hard-working driver to have a break too. For children, this can provide the opportunity to visit a shop or explore a new place – breaking up a long journey. This is more difficult using public transport, but even so, most planes and trains allow room for passengers to have a short walk around and just stretch their legs.
Anger Survival Rule 8.Don't let anything to chance
When using public transport CHECK THAT EVERYONE HAS GOT OFF WITH YOU BEFORE LEAVING. This happened to me in London a couple of weeks ago, and though me and my friends are not children (though we probably act like them most of the time) leaving one friend on the underground train was not fun for her or the rest of us. There have been many reports over the years about parents leaving children on the train behind them, or the doors closing in-front of people. When approaching the stop –or ideally before getting near to the stop- a good idea can be to check that everyone knows where to get off and what to do if for some reason they fail to do this.
Anger Survival Bonus Tip
And finally, WHILE BOOKING IN, TRY TO ENTERTAIN THE CHILDREN. Hopefully, booking into a caravan site, hotel or wherever should not take too long, but even so, asking questions, taking payments and filling out forms takes quite a while – even if things do go to plan. This also takes a great deal of concentration, with the chore being made harder when having all the family around your feet. To avoid this, try if possible to find a play area or even just somewhere for the kids to sit and entertain themselves why you do this. Especially with young children, your partner, older child or other adult could watch over the younger children to make sure that everything is ok.
The start of any holiday can have a big impact on the rest of it. Even if things calm down, a very unpleasant start can take a day or two to get over. Though unexpected events will always happen, minimising their risk and having everything go smoothly should allow for a very happy summer holiday for everyone.
Mark joined our one day Anger Management course in September 2009.
Initially he was skeptical, how could a one day course change anything as he and his partner Julie were at the point of breaking up.