Duncan Pickering - Market development manager
As father of two young children in a family that likes to go to places varied and widespread, we do many a mile together on the UK’s roads. Car journeys account for 68% of all journeys made and leisure is the principle reason in 40% of all cases*, so we’re not alone.
Prior to having children, my wife and I were ready in a flash, we jumped in the car and off we went. Now, a day out as a family is to most couples like packing for a fortnight as the car’s spare capacity is jammed with everything from scooters to spare clothing.
In fact we now have a car to suit this requirement – an MPV or multi-purpose vehicle, which is the most popular type of car in the UK with a 22.5% market share. It has secret cubby-holes and tables, stuff that is far more impressive to me today than any 0-60mph time used to be.
But the car itself won’t make the family journey enjoyable.
A typical family car journey for us will include the first request for something from the rear seats within just a few miles, or even a few yards, from our starting point:
“Where’s Cinderella?!!” (doll, not child)
“Why won’t it work?! Mummy…. Daddy…..”
If you’re a family with children, the above will sound familiar. But this is not a problem in itself as we want our children to be fed, watered, entertained and interested during the journey. They’re children and to expect anything else, especially if they’re young, is unfair.
Any problem with driving with children usually arises due to the parents, or should I admit, a parent. Now would be a good time to be honest.
As a husband and father, I bow to my wife’s preparation and organisation skills and making a car journey requires this attention to detail. When the first request for water does arise and you have to admit that yes, you have packed it but it is handily in the boot, you’ve only done a half-job. And the books are with the water and you’ve just remembered that the iPad could have done with a charge overnight.
Satisfy quickly (within reason and fairness) the requests from the back and the miles get eaten up along with the sandwiches and carrot sticks. Put all of the necessary items in the boot or leave them on the kitchen table and every mile you drive can feel like ten.
It’s supply and demand. Have a ready supply of things for when a demand is made. And stay patient when the “Are we there yet?” questions start. Tell them how far it is and then have something ready for them to do, like “Who can be the first person to see a pink car…?”
It can take 20 miles sometimes.
*Source: DfT National travel Survey 2014