Looooooong Car Journeys With Kids (or not).

Drive to the south of France they said, it will be fun they said, the kids will be fine watching their DVD players they said…

THEY be bloody idiots.

It’s one of those running jokes isn’t it… kids in cars constantly pestering their parents with a tirade of are we nearly there yets But you don’t quite realise how true it actually is until you have kids and you find yourself in that very situation.

And you reason… well of course they are going to ask, they get bored, their sense of time is all out of whack, 5 minutes is like 5 MILLION GAZILLION YEARS in kid world. But you don’t quite envisage them asking it 10 times whilst you are still loading up the bloody car…

nearlythereI don’t mean to be funny guys but…


But it’s going to be ok, because like I say, we have those DVD player headset things which are going to make everything fine. And no, before anyone asks if I’d rather engage with my children by playing games like eye spy, I would not. I don’t want to play eye spy because they can’t play it properly yet and I get pissed off spending 15 minutes trying to guess something beginning with ‘L’ which turns out to be ‘Mummy’s orange handbag’ that I haven’t even got with me. Gah.

(Although I must admit that the littlest saying ‘I spysy with my spiedsey eyseys’ does almost make it worth it.)

So anyway the DVD players were to provide the perfect solution, or at least they would have…


If they could just make their fricking minds up!

After a while I started wondering if constantly swapping discs and then spending ages flipping through the trailers was actually worse than ‘I DON’T spy’.

So we moved on to toys, I had a bag packed with all of their favourites – hurrah! Although…


The bigger one couldn’t seem to keep his slippery little hands on them and the smaller one just kept accidentally on purpose lobbing them about the car. I explained that I couldn’t keep picking them up (whilst carrying on picking them up) and that it was dangerous for me to keep getting out of my seat to retrieve them (whilst continuing to get out of my seat to retrieve them).

Another top way to keep everyone entertained is stopping off at service stations every 20 minutes. Saying you desperately need a poo when you actually don’t is a fun game!


Sometimes it’s nice to just get out of the car and have a good old shout to release pent up energy. Especially if you are driving through the Alps because you can pretend to be Heidi… the unhinged version.


I do like to use the stops to peruse the interesting foreign snacks though. Stocking up means I can always revert to my fail safe ‘keeping kids amused in confined spaces’ parenting tactic… which is basically just lobbing snacks over my shoulders until they shut up.


I also had the genius idea of portioning up a large bag of bacon chip-sticks using nappy sacks. I felt really rather pleased with myself.

nappy bag

Until I realised that experiencing joy in finding alternative uses for nappy sacks is actually pretty pathetic.

Anyway, just as we were at the point where every mile felt like a needle being jabbed in my eyeball, something happened.

The kids got to a point when they were so bored of throwing stuff, whining and fighting that they actually decided to talk to each other! My boys don’t always get on, but every now and again we get snippets of love and laughter between them which is, for me, one of the most heart warming parts of being their mum.

Even if the topics are pretty undesirable…


There was a small part of me that thought I should chastise them for being rude, but there was a bigger part of me that that just wanted to sit back and snigger. Besides at the ages of 5 and 2 1/2, I felt pretty chuffed that those are the rudest words they knew. *smug face*

But then of course we were back to the ever familiar chorus of ‘are we nearly there yet’ So I informed them ‘WE WILL BE THERE WHEN I AM READY TO SELL YOU TO A CIRCUS AND THE CAR LOOKS LIKE A BOMB HAS GONE OFF IN IT!’


P.S you will be glad to know we made it to the bottom and France (and back) and lived to tell the tale. I didn’t get a medal (for, on one particular day, spending 12 hours in the car!) but we were rewarded with a swimming pool and PLENTY of cheap good wine – AKA something for everyone :)winning



P.S. My new book The Catastrophic Friendship Fails of Lottie Brooks is out on the 3rd March 2022! It's aimed at 9-12 year olds and you can buy it here :)


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20 thoughts on “Looooooong Car Journeys With Kids (or not).

  1. Carie

    Oh that’s priceless! And a lot of it is all too familiar from our recent adventures around Europe, especially the “I need a poo!” tactic!! I’m glad you had a nice holiday though, pool and wine sounds good!

  2. Jess Paterson

    Brilliant Katie! Love the illustrations of in-car hell, especially your littlie’s words, so cute! We did the same last year and this brought it all back. NEVER going to do long car journeys again. Looking forward to seeing you at the MADS! xxx

  3. TalesFromTheDadSide

    We (check the kid door locks are on first) lie and say:
    Isn’t it lovely!

    Then watch their reaction as they notice we are still doing 4000mph on the motorway. Or we’re still at home.

  4. Tammy

    Just had a similar experience luckily not quiet as long! I find eye spy with kids is best played with colour rather than letters but I still can’t cope with green – grass more than 3 times before desperately trying to encourage them to read their books quietly! Another good one is rainbow cars where they have to find in order the difference colour cars. My 3 1/2 now has learnt “I need a wee wee!” as being better to get attention than “I’m bored” grrrr

  5. kristi

    Thus made me properly chuckle ! We have four girls and have driven to Italy every year since my 12year old was a toddler so i am very familiar with all of these tried and tested methods. In fact only yesterday we played the I need a poo game which ended in me stating through gritted teeth to my three year old that if I didn’t see poo asap we would not be leaving the stinky toilet EVER !! which is always a nice note to end the holiday on I find !

  6. Missmuffetuk

    We did exactly that one year. Drove from The Midlands to the south of France at about the same ages as your boys. NEVER AGAIN!!!! We fly drive now, just an hour in the car of ‘are we there yet’. Saves my sanity and we get to the wine quicker!!!

  7. Kate Harrodwild

    We did this 2 years ago – then again this year – so the horror does fade! My mother in law asked why we went so far?! Looking around at tanned faces was definitely one answer. The other is longer but is about having adventures, expanding their horizons, giving them memories. Two years on a surfeit of technology of snacks was definitely more effective and we had a wonderful time. Mine are now 10 and 7 year old twins. Fabulous post – but I say go for it folks!

  8. Hannah Atkinson

    Excellent as always! We used to be driven down as kids. Nightmare! I do love foreign snacks though and foreign supermarkets so it could just be worth it. This people, is why you only have one child. No arguments over DVDs, no hitting it fighting. A bit more I spy though…..!

  9. Al Start

    What a genius piece of writing! We can all relate to the hellish long car journey (and I only have one whinging, seat-kicking, snack-throwing monster!)

    I can offer a solution though, to give you all a break… My children’s music and story CDs. Designed to pass the ‘Great for Grown-ups Test’ and tried and tested to entertain your kids!

    I’ m so confident I will send you a free sample!
    Let me know, maybe you could write the before and after story!!
    Best wishes

  10. Californian Mum in London

    Glad to see that they didn’t break you. Surprisingly there isn’t much poo talk when you have a girl. ha! I spent 10 hours in the car with mine (it was supposed to be a 5 hour drive to the Lake District). It was fine until we ran out of snacks. Then it got ugly.

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  12. Karen @ TalesofaTwinMum

    Hahahahah love it. Remember this time last year I endured 24 hours on planes with my three to Australia. 24 HOURS!!!! That truly was hell on earth but I guess we had the bonus of them each having their own seat entertainment and being able to ask for whatever chocolate/crips/sweets they wanted from the trolley and having a mum so desperate for two minutes of peace that she said yes to it all! Hope you had a nice holiday despite the fun-sounding journey.

  13. jude

    Ha! I can’t believe you made it to the bottom of France and back. I can barely make it half an hour down the road. Well done lady, skilled snack throwing. x


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