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A Dangerous Drive to Devon with Children

Martina Mercer won the Working Mother of the Year Award and is a respected freelance marketing consultant and copywriter. Here she tells us of a terrifying house move to Devon where she was left to care for two very grumpy children all while driving. 

In Martina’s own words 

The worst ever car journey I endured was when the whole family moved to Devon from York. My youngest was two and potty training and although my middle daughter was travelling in a van with her father, I still felt like the journey was the most unsafe I’ve ever taken.

There are no laws about driving while distracted from children are there? It’s incredible how difficult it can be to drive on foreign roads while diffusing a ticking tantrum and arguing with a 13 year old. 

We had to stop every twenty minutes to visit a toilet, and while I spent the whole 12 hour journey (it should have taken 5 hours) wishing my toddler would fall asleep, she never did. My 13 yr old did though, and didn’t appreciate being woken up at every service station!

Since then I never have taken the journey back up North. I think it traumatised me for life. Despite all my best intentions, gadgets and gizmos, I think I sang the Wheels on the Bus 400 times. I was the sole entertainment and I was the sole reason for the two unhappy children having a miserable time in the car. Wow, did they let me know it?

It hit me, during the fifth time that I tried to placate my youngest with funny faces, that this type of driving is highly dangerous but what was the alternative? No matter what time I took the journey, the children would still be unhappy, being stuck in a car and I’d still have quite a way to drive.

I made numerous stops and tempted them with junk food just to enjoy a few minutes peace in the car while I tried to read the road signs. I made numerous wrong turns and could have curled up and died when we hit a very long traffic jam on the motorway. While we were moving I was happy to convince myself we were getting closer to the destination.

That journey has stayed with me a long time, and never again have I tried to travel with a toddler for longer than an hour without someone else on entertaining duty. No matter where we’re headed our safety just isn’t worth it, and although many parents may not admit it, I’m sure I’m not alone with having to deal with a tantrumming child while driving!

The next time we do the trip back up North, we’re taking the train. I can’t do a full 12 hours again! (The longest journey has been 6 hours since) In the meantime though I have been determined not to repeat the experience and so I’ve experimented with a LOT of gadgets and gizmos to provide the (almost) perfect car journey with children. You can find out what worked and what didn’t in my post, How to Entertain Children on a Long Car Journey

I’ll let you in on my secret in the next blog for Motor Quoters. In the meantime, please do share your horrific, or enjoyable, car journeys with children, just so I don’t feel so alone in this!