Normal service is resuming here on the blog. My power is slowly returning after being sapped in the summer break. Now that it’s October, my holiday to France back in August seems like a lifetime ago, which is essentially what the previous month feels like when you get to my age. My holiday was with my family, and by ‘family’ I mean my husband, the kid, my parents, two older siblings, their respective husband, wife and kids (fourteen of us in total), not many people can say they’d holiday in such a way. It would, I imagine drive some of you bananas but we all get along really well (read as, not in a Waltons-esque way, but we all like a good laugh and a considerable amount of vino). I’ve written two previous posts about our holidays together but this time, having done an epic drive to and from France a few times now, I wanted to write about how we get through it semi-unscathed with the kid in tow.
We’ve done three big family holidays since Olivia turned 1.5, and we always drive via the Eurotunnel, then have to schlep about eight/nine hours down through France. To date, we’ve experienced pretty much everything en-route. We’ve had milk pukes not even thirty minutes after leaving our house in the UK (Mm that smell for ten hours) We’ve had poo-splosions, we’ve had the kid screaming and shouting at us, nothing placating her and one year we drove back with the kid recovering from serious D & V. Wonderful. And there’s always a traffic jam to keep you on your toes. Here’s what has helped us to date.
Have your ‘kid kit bag’ ready & accessible
And by this I mean things like wipes, flushable wipes, toilet roll, nappy bags, spare pants, spare clothes and hand gel. French roadside toilets are generally a bit rank so hand gel and toilet roll is essential. I had all of this in a bag, including the potette potty (a god-send for any toddler or if truth be told, a desperate mum who needs to wee!) underneath the drivers seat at the back. I have more hand gel and wipes in the front passenger door. Also useful are those charity bags you get through your front door, we’ve used these to put over the car seat when covered in sick (lovely) or to chuck a whole load of puke covered clothes in. Make sure you have this kit bag within flailing arms reach.
Load up your Tablet with games, films and music
It’s time to accept that you can no longer listen to the music you want to on family holidays anymore. And if you haven’t listened to 500 renditions of The Wheels on The Bus in the car, are you even a real family?! We pre-loaded our tablet and phones with films, games and music ahead of the long drive and found that actually (and luckily), the kid wasn’t that bothered about listening to story books or music, for her it was all about films and games. The tablet really is your friend on these trips. You may want to be the family who can play I-Spy etc or shout out the colours of trucks to each other but how many hours can you keep that going for before going insane?! So before you go, load all your electrical equipment with as much kid-related-crap as possible! Oh and buy some decent toddler headphones so you don’t have to listen to all the episodes of Peppa Pig on repeat.
Other ideas to entertain
I bought the kid a Keep Em Quiet bag after reading about them on social media. It was good but what I learnt is, that these sort of things are very child dependant. The bag the kid got had Moana stickers and drawing books in it, a Trolls t-shirt transfer, a maths book, some snacks, a wand and a little pony and fairy toy. I left the maths book and Trolls transfer at home, as these weren’t things I wanted to take away. On the journey, I produced the stickers and drawing books when moaning was imminent and this lead to me discovering that the kid wasn’t actually interested in doing that sort of thing in the car. It was met with a flat NO. The best received bits were the My Little Pony and Fairy toys which she LOVED (she broke the wand within seconds) The drawing books and stickers were used once on holiday however, so overall the bag was a worthwhile purchase. I did add to the bag (which became the kids holiday bag) a Water Magic book which was brilliant, that really kept her quiet for a good amount of time and is still going to this day.
Food and Snacks
Last but not least, having decent journey food really helps. This year we took pre-made sausage sandwiches, juices and brioches for breakfast, we had mid-morning snacks of fruit and nut bars (NAKD), then lunch bits were things like a pesto chicken salad, chopped up frankfurters, cold pizza, scotch eggs, olives, shop bought cous cous salad, fruit etc, all easy go-to things to eat if we stopped or to eat en-route. Obviously we had things like crisps, chocolate and Coca-Cola too, needs must when you’ve been on the road since 5am. There were extra bits for the kid like mini baby bels, squeezy yoghurts, pom bears, Goodies oat bars etc. I had everything in a cool box (easily accessible behind the passenger seat) that needed to be kept cold and I had the kids snacks with me in the front so I could easily chuck things at her whilst we drove. Oh and the chicken pasta (because I made such a ridiculous amount) also served as dinner for us that evening in our stop over hotel.
Finally, when the kids are shouting at your and nothing is making them happy, a sense of humour helps, oh and if you’re rich, one of those screens that limousine drivers have between the front and back seats