This post is for Motoring Mums everywhere on Mothering Sunday.
I’m talking about the many Mums and Grans across the UK who use their cars to ferry multiple children to school and then to their respective ballet classes, Scout groups, language lessons and lots of other places during the week.
Children with better social lives than their own, let’s also remember…
I’m talking about Mumpreneurs who turn their home into a business to supplement the family income for starters.
Their kitchen table becomes a business desk, their bedroom an office and their sitting room a call centre; heading off to weekly networking meetings to sell their products and feed the UK economy. To then return home and collect school children or just be there to welcome returning family, cooking meals and all that entails.
I’m talking about community-minded Mums that use their cars to take care of relatives and neighbours who need their help. To ferry them to hospital appointments, dentists, opticians, hairdressers and to do their shopping for them.
I’m talking about the many noble Mums who pretend that Lime and Soda is really their favourite drink at parties or restaurants because they know someone has to drive home sober and they have to be up early the next morning…
In summary, motoring Mums are the unpaid everyday chauffeurs for the family but without the bill at the end of the journey. They keep the family wheels turning and Mothering Sunday is our opportunity to say THANK YOU MUM.
We think you’re wonderful and our family life is the richer because of what you do.
Whereas if your Mum is no longer with you, as is the case for me, Mothering Sunday is a sad day as well as an occasion to remember all she did. And to wish I’d done a lot more to thank her when I had the chance…
We asked Claire from blogzine BrightonMums.com to share her tried and tested family #motoringheroes with us, hacks to help make motoring with young children less stressful than it often is.
Here’s what she told us.
“One of the first harsh lessons you learn as a parent is, outings with children need military style preparation. From getting out of the door for a newborn’s very first walk with the buggy, to baby’s first road trip to see Granny through to the first family motoring holiday adventure; parents find themselves constantly developing strategies for child-friendly travel.
The iPad (or tablet) holder
We took our first long road trip to see friends and family in Newcastle and Edinburgh when our youngest was only 2 years old so we certainly needed something to keep the kids amused and pass the time.
I found an iPad holder which hangs on the back of the front seats for a reasonable prize on Amazon and despite having Frozen and Finding Nemo playing in my ear while driving more times than I ever planned for in my life, it was worth every penny.
The fully charged phone
There’s nothing more annoying than a low phone battery, at any moment of your life. For better or worse, I’ve come to rely on my phone for just about everyone; diary management, e-mails, music and GPS maps.
As a busy, self-employed mum, the one-stop shop for life management allows me to get more done. So a reliable in-car charger is a must. I have one with a Bluetooth connection for the radio, so now I charge the phone while I drive and
brainwash the kids with some awesome 90s tunes!
A bowl or bin
This is the icky side of parenting; sick. But if you don’t prepare, you’ll be caught unawares and it’ll be a whole lot more icky for you and the car. Motion sickness can strike young children when you least expect, so having a handy receptacle children can easily grab in case they feel queasy while you’re driving could save your car upholstery.
Bags don’t really work, they’re a bit of a faff, so we have an old plastic mixing bowl permanently in the car these days.
You also need good ventilation and fresh water bottles.
Car window blinds
There’s a lot of baby and child accessories you can buy these days it’s baffling. And some are most certainly overkill, overselling to parents with disposable income.
But a good car window blind or sunshade is one of the best investments parents can make. It’s not one to scrimp on either, as poor quality products don’t stand the test of time and this is something kids benefit from until they’re out of car seats.
One of our favourite baby product companies, Munchkin, do a great window roller blind for the car. Sheer style sunshades which fix with suckers are great for older kids, as they can still take in their surroundings out of the window.
What’s that got to do with motoring? I hear you ask? Well all these items make the whole experience more manageable for me but here’s my final and really important #motoringhero for now…
National Trust properties
On long car journeys to see family and friends in England and Wales, instead of taking breaks in grimy service stations we look for a National Trust property en route instead.
And surprisingly, you don’t have to go too far off course to find a hidden gem in their network. There’s often a great café, clean toilets, activities for the kids (especially during school holidays) and a fascinating piece of national heritage to look at. Which is a no-brainer when the alternative is low nutritional value, low taste Burger King or the WH Smith’s Ginster selection with slot machines setting the hum of a polluted motorway.”
Thank you Claire for your tried and tested child-friendly #motoringheroes based on your family travelling experience.
Excellent ideas for motoring grans too of course!!
Do you and your family take long trips in the car?
What items do you swear by to keep family motoring stress-free?
If it’s easier to share your family motoring stories and hacks at Facebook or Twitter we look forward to seeing you there.
We’re feeling the love and have three great gifts for women to win…
1/ If you’ve missed our Harrod’s Valentine Day champagne and chocolates offer at our Facebook Page (it ends on Wednesday 11 February at noon) worry not.
2/ Starting on Monday 16th we’ll be running a special competition for one wonderful and deserving Mum on Mothers’ Day, ending on Wednesday 11 March at noon. I can’t say too much for now other than it’s from Fortnum and Mason…
3/ Our London Shard Hotel competition via our FOXY Lady Insurance website
If you’re feeling lucky and in need of low cost car insurance sometime this year, be sure to visit the FOXY Lady Insurance website and register for a quote* to enter our best ever hotel competition for a stay at iconic Shard London Hotel this summer. That runs until 30 April 2015 and the lucky winner will be announced in May. This prize is worth £1500 including £500 spending money and is offered by our marvellous insurance partner Cornmarket Insurance Services Ltd.
The more insurance renewal dates you supply (we have car, motorcycle and home insurance services) the more entries you get in this competition. And the more times you’ll hear from friendly Cornmarket at renewal time of course.
We’re getting great feedback here and we’ll be doing our darnedest to get women the insurance rates they deserve, simply by seeking the safest drivers and excluding expensive boy racers that seem to chalk up the most expensive accidents and claims, which previously we were contributing towards.
So these are three really fab gifts for ladies who are following us. One for Valentines Day, another for Mothers Day and the biggest of all, for a fantastic summer holiday in London in the 5 star luxury Shangri-La Hotel that is part of the iconic Shard Hotel there.
Terms apply… but don’t miss out!
*Our aim is to cut the cost of car insurance for 9 out of 10 members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club. Terms apply. Club members get the best rates but in 2015 non members who buy a FOXY Lady Insurance product will get a gift membership of the Club included in their deal.
In the morning, as many as one in five cars on the road during peak hours is said to be doing the school run. Just imagine how stressful that can be on crowded roads with children who instantly sense how Mum is feeling and often refuse to cooperate!
Luckily there are a few things you can do to make sure the daily school runs operate as smoothly as possible.
Choose the right car for the school run
The first and most important part of the school run is your mode of transport. The ideal family vehicle of choice here? We say the MPV meaning a Multi Purpose Vehicle which is surely the perfect car to accommodate multiple children…
Having lots of space is essential, especially when you might have to fit in multiple children into the back seat as well as their PE kits, musical instruments, satchels and lunchboxes.
Not having the children crammed in on top of each other is another way you can stop children arguing whilst reducing your own stress levels and making the school run that little bit smoother…
How to de-stress school runs
But there is a different way of seeing this whole experience and de-stressing such situations. Instead of treating the school journey as a chore, why not see it as a chance to spend some quality time with your children away from the distraction of TV’s and computer games?
It can be the perfect opportunity to chat about the day ahead or how your children got on at school when you’re driving them home. You could even get together with your children the night before and choose a (needs to be) democratic playlist of fun songs to listen to together on the journey. The kids will actually want to get in the car then and it should make getting them ready and out the door a lot easier.
The benefit of being early…
Once you make it to the school gates, the next challenge is finding a parking slot.
One tip is to set off and arrive before the mad rush follows in. Setting off with barely enough time for the run means you’re likely to rush, and with children darting out from behind the cars when you get there (who were lucky enough to have already parked up) this can be dangerous.
Rushing around does no one any favours, so we suggest you set off early for a more ‘chilled’ journey and allow yourself to feel smug when you pull up into the prime parking position.
Whereas, if you’re someone that always arrives late, no matter how hard you try to get there on time, consider getting a car with a rear view camera to help you reverse into tricky spaces that other parents daren’t tackle.
So remember, the school run CAN be enjoyable if you have the right car, the right attitude and a well thought through routine.
Hopefully next term it should be a lot smoother and stress free!
Happy New Year Mums!
Research shows that 3 out of 4 girls of school age are currently failing to meet the minimum recommendation of an hour’s moderate physical exercise a day. A simple solution would be for many to walk to school it seems with nearly half of all primary school children living within one mile of their school and three-quarters within two miles. Despite this, more than half are being driven to and from the school gates every day; not just by Mums of course but mainly if the photo is typical here.
With this in mind, Olympic and Commonwealth Gold Medallist heptathlete Louise Hazel has joined forces with Kia Motors (UK) Ltd to raise awareness of road safety issues and encourage children to get active by joining a walking bus (rather than just hopping in Mum’s car).
The Kia Walking Bus initiative coincides with International Walk to School Month, October, where primary school pupils across the UK join forces with those in more than 40 countries worldwide to celebrate the fitness benefits of walking to school.
The photo is of Lytchett Matravers Primary School in Poole, the most recent school to sign up here, on their walk to school earlier this week.
Whilst it might seem unusual for a leading car manufacturer to actively discourage car use, Kia has been involved in this scheme for over 10 years now, benefiting children’s health, easing traffic congestion around school gates and helping the environment in the process.
The commonsense logic of all this is best summed up by Louise who is an excellent role model for primary school age girls to understand how and why daily exercise keeps them mentally and physically fit.
“The Kia Walking Bus is a simple way to do something to encourage children to keep active and fit within everyday life. Furthermore, it’s fantastic to know that the scheme contributes to reducing emissions and road traffic and helps create a healthier and safer walking environment for everyone, throughout the year.”
Well done Kia – how can we help you next International Walk To School month?