As the Summer draws near talk seems to always turn to holidays. "Where are you off to this year?" your hairdresser will ask. "Going anywhere nice?" the supermarket delivery man questions as you sign for your groceries and if you don't have a big holiday planned it is easy to feel a little sad and left-out but fear not as holidays at home can be wonderful fun.
Whilst it is amazing to get away for a week or more it can be incredibly stressful when you have young children. I recall travelling with a toddler and baby twins in our seven seater and we literally could not fit another thing in the car as every inch of space was used - double buggy, 2 travel cots, booster seats, clothes, feeding equipment, toys, bedding. towels and so much more. All this 'stuff' of course means loads of unpacking and repacking and the dreaded washing.
So why not this year plan a week (or even a weekend) to have a holiday at home? The way my family do this is to plan day trips for each day and make a vow not to cook or clean during that week. Personally I do like to keep on top of the washing as that makes the 'come home' easier but you can leave that too if it suits you. Then you spend the whole week treating it as you would if you were on holiday - minimal TV, loads of outside time, playing with the kids, meals out, no set bedtimes and just generally bending the rules of your everyday life.
If you are going to be taking lots of day trips, either because you are having a holiday at home or just because you like to be able to wake-up and see the sun shining and thus seize the day, then here are the summer essentials that you should think about for your car journeys.
Pack a bag with the sun essentials - During the summer I have a big supermarket durable shopper bag in our hall always ready packed to just grab and go if the mood takes us. In this bag is always towels, swim suits (swim nappies if appropriate) , high factor sun screen (with both UVA and UVB protection), hats, beach toys to play with, ball game, card games, healthy snacks, water bottles ready to fill, empty carrier bags (ready for wet clothes and rubbish after picnics), wet wipes, hand sanitiser and spare clothes (especially underwear).
Make sure your car is ready for the sunny weather - A really comfy age-appropriate car seat with high back is great for longer journeys and then if your baby/ child wants to sleep they can do this with minimal fuss. I always liked ones that had a cup holder on the arm and then your little one can help themselves to some water as they need to (in a non-spill cup of course!).
Even for older kids I still think that window sun shades are an essential. They may not look the coolest but certainly better than a child with sunburn down one-side of their arm as they sat by the window. My kids also love those little hand-held fans, the type that run by battery and have super soft spinning wings as the air-conditioning is wonderful in the front but never quite as good when you are in the second or even third row back.
I suspect, that like me you always have supplies in the car whatever the weather, blankets for picnics or for snuggling up when it gets chilly, tissues and wipes and a small first aid kit for any accidents.
Fun in the car - Browse the internet before you go for some great car games to play. My kids have recently got into the yellow car game but I wouldn't recommend this one as it can lead to tears! But eye spy, creating a combined story, the a-z category game and when I went shopping are all fabulous. As are mini-spotter books, word searches and where's wally to keep the kids amused. I heard recently about a friend who changes the theme (or mood) of the car each half hour during a long journey. Either with a stop or a new activity to ensure the kids stay happy, I love the sound of this.
Out and about - Once you reach your destination, you'll then be off exploring or making your way to your beach spot for the day. If you have a baby or toddler and need a pushchair why not invest in a cheap, lightweight one to stay in the car and use for days out. It is then no hassle getting it in and out and pushing it about for the day. Of course a parasol or sunshade is an essential too to protect your youngest family members.
If your child is a little older but still gets fed up walking after a while then something like a push along trike can be fabulous. They have the fun of feeling as if they are playing and are independent but you still have them strapped in and know where they are. Or for the more adventurous child that wants to roam free there are of course reins.
If your child are older and you end up with lots of bags and equipment (sun tent, towels, food, games, beach toys etc) then either bring a shopping trolley with wheels (you can get some quite modern ones nowadays - promise) or get the kids involved and make them carry some of their own things.
I hope my summer essentials tips have been useful to you. if you can think of anything I have missed then do please leave a comment.
Thanks, Mich x
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