The emotional stages of taking a long car journey with kids

What could be better than a mini break with the grandkids? Well, unfortunately, before you reach your destination you’ve got to first navigate several hours in an enclosed space with those precious cherubs.

Here are seven emotional stages every parent or grandparent can relate to.

1. Optimism

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The sun is shining and the birds are singing as you gather the kiddos – who are chatting excitedly amongst themselves – and slam the front door behind you, ready to pile into the car. Everyone seems to be in a good mood so maybe, just maybe, this particular journey will buck the family trend and go without a hitch . . .

2. Determination

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In fact, you know it will, because this time you’re prepared for anything. You’ve brought copious amounts of snacks, got Sat Nav to guide you and the kids each have their own toys, so there’ll be no squabbling.

Read more: Five essential gadgets to take on the road this summer

You’ve even thought of some fun games you used to play with your parents in the time before iPads, and you’re going to pass them along. It’s going to be lovely.

3. Joy

And you know what, the journey does start off wonderfully. You’ve got your favourite tunes on, the children are playing contentedly and the nice guy on the Sat Nav is guiding you to your destination with ease. You’ve made it to the highway without the slightest hint of bad traffic and all is well in the world.

4. Irritation

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All of a sudden, your bubble of bliss bursts. The clouds have opened making it hard to see the road, the kids have started bickering about who ate the last packet of crisps, and to top it off traffic has slowed to a snail’s pace. You can feel your blood pressure starting to rise.

Read more: Ten tips for happy road trips

5. Anger

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It feels like you only left the house about half an hour ago, but already you’re hearing grumbles of, ‘I need the toilet’ and, ‘Are we nearly there yet?’

The bickering has turned into full-on arguing – not amongst the kids, but between you and your other half, who has decided now is the perfect time to explain why it would have made more sense to go via train today. You’re fuming. How are you going to cope with three more hours of this hellscape on wheels?

6. Guilt

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You immediately feel terrible about your outburst and pull into the next rest stop with services, treating the whole family to burgers, fries, fizzy drinks and yet more snacks to say sorry.

Well, it’s partly to apologise, but largely because you really need the comfort food right now, and because you’re hoping that after a big lunch the kids will nod off in the back of the car.

7. Relief

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Your cunning plan works – the little ones are soon snoozing like angels and peace reigns once more. You breathe a sigh of relief as you pull into the drive of your adorable holiday cottage.

Read more: How to stay awake on a long road trip

The worst is over, and all you want to do now is pour a glass of something cold and delicious. The return journey? You can’t even begin to contemplate it . . .

Have you taken any long car journeys with the kids or grandkids? What do you pack to make them easier? Share any tips and tricks you’ve learnt along the way in the section below.

– With PA

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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