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On Your Marks: 5 ways to get kids in the car for a day out...faster!

Penny Alexander

22 November 2017

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3 minutes
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We’re in the car ready for a day out, there’s a low-level scuffle emerging between the kids, and I’m trying to ignore that backseat shuffling sound which will only ever end in tears. My husband is punching instructions into the sat nav and I’m hugging my travel mug, warm tea is all that’s keeping me from flinging open the door and running back to bed. The dog is whining in the back, but at least one of us still wants to go out.

A family look into a pond on a day out

It doesn’t matter how exciting the day out, mobilising the army that is one, two or more kids often sucks some of the joy out of family days out, drives parents to distraction and gets the happy family day out off to a less than perfect start. Does it have to be like this? We’ve been trying to change that scenario, here are a few things that have worked for us, but we’d really love to hear what works in your house!

  1. Set out your stall early

    It’s all about the sales pitch with today’s kids, whatever their age. Teens hate to be the last to know what is happening, tweens get on board faster when they know what’s in it for them and toddlers wake up raring to go when the seeds of a day out have been sown the night before. My husband has this patter down like a finely tuned business pitch, he knows exactly how to get them to invest.

    A boy on a bike looking at sweets in his hand
  2. Big it up from a little person’s point of view

    As grown-ups, it is hard to get back into little shoes sometimes and really think about what might inspire or excite kids about a day out. Although kids also love fresh air, nature, exercise and family time, they call it different things. So it’s all about the big hill we can roll down, the massive tree you can climb inside, the pirate swing, the shop, the weird legend, how jealous their mates will be when they see the selfie with [insert who's cool here], the ice creams we will have together. Your tone of voice can make a massive difference too, so even if you’re sleep deprived and dreaming of a day alone on the sofa, make your day out sound like Christmas come early and you’re in for an easier day.

    Kids canoeing down a river on a family day out
  3. Time Management

    Kids soon pick up on parent’s bad timekeeping habits, when Mum is never ready on time, Dad’s 10am that is always more like 11am. Being accountable yourself is painful but makes a massive difference, especially as kids get older. When they are really stalling, setting a timer, or counting down can really work. Set it for the whole family and not just the most reluctant, make it fun if you can with a race against other family members, and don't let the youngest get left behind. Encourage time management by reminding everyone how many minutes they have as you prepare to leave.

    A family sit on rocks whilst the dog looks on


  4. Sense of Humour

    Getting out of the house can be a massive stress, but why let it get you down? Narrating their attempts to get ready as sports commentary, pretending to be a sheepdog or praising every little teeny thing that moves you a step closer to the door can all help you see the positives rather than your life force draining in front of your eyes.

    A child touching a display made using pennies
  5. Press the reset button

    When it all goes wrong and we’ve all lost our tempers just getting into the car, we put the music on loud, have a breather and then, when we’ve put some distance between us and home, we ask everyone to press an imaginary reset button in between the driver and passenger seats. That way, all the stress of actually leaving the house is gone, and we refuse to let it taint the fun day out ahead!

    Two kids smiling whilst drinking hot drinks on a day out

Oh, and I always try to use the annoying waiting time to make myself a travel mug of tea, for that ‘thank goodness we made it’ moment when everyone is finally strapped in the car.

How about you, how do you mobilise your army?

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Penny Alexander

22 November 2017

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Penny Alexander is a multi-award winning travel blogger and writer, passionate about UK travel and loves to help families find their perfect escape. Penny is one of our much loved Trusted Explorers, which means all content has been written exclusively for dayoutwiththekids.co.uk in exchange for a contribution to their family piggy bank. All posts are first hand, honest and based on real experiences.

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