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Driving alone with a 2 year old, how far is too far?

(22 Posts)
Anne58 Thu 27-Feb-14 13:20:17

Afternoon all,

I have just been having coffee with a young neighbour and her 2 year old DS. Her in-laws have moved to another part of the country and she is worried about driving on her own with the little one to stay with them for the weekend. (Her husband is in the Navy)

She really wants to keep up the contact and gets on very well with her in-laws, but is a bit concerned about travelling on her own with a toddler.

We had a look on the AA Route Planner and it seems to be about 3 to 4 hours in travelling time. I have had no experience of this as my DGC's live pretty close.

Any thoughts on how far is too far?

janerowena Thu 27-Feb-14 13:29:18

That's roughly how far my daughter is from me. She does it with two small children, and stops off once each way. It's part of the holiday, a snack in a service station. However they stay for at least four days, usually a week, so she has time to get over it. She tries to time her departure to coincide with the 2 yr-old's morning nap, although sadly that is becoming scarcer. Cds of children's songs help, but lately they have acquired a car with a DVD player in the back, and the five year old knows how to change the DVDs. I Spy was a great favourite apparently, even when the eldest wasn't quite sure of what he was doing, and play trays too. She has big pockets that hung over the backs of the front seats that were filled with toys and had drop-down play trays, and they have rucksacks filled with their favourites. Of course things get dropped, so she has a small stash of replacements on the seat next to her. She seems to cope quite cheerfully though.

whenim64 Thu 27-Feb-14 13:33:25

My daughter has travelled with two year old twins on five hour journeys, timing it so they could sleep for much of the time, have stops whilst they were awake and be able to eat and be entertained with a back of chair DVD player with their favourite nursery rhymes and TV programmes. When my eldest son was two, he was fine on our journey from Cornwall to Manchester. No such gadgets for entertainment then - he chatted and sang all the way home.

Anne58 Thu 27-Feb-14 13:59:46

Thanks for the responses, much appreciated!

I'm sure she will be fine, especially once she's done it for the first time!

Soutra Thu 27-Feb-14 14:12:10

It sounds as if the worry is about the length of the drive alone, rather than the presence of the 2 year old . Yes it is a responsibility but you get used to it. It used to take me about that driving DDs 1 and 2 to PILs in Rye with the added complication of regular "sick" stops shock but stories and songs on cassette helped entertain them. In the days before mobile phones I suppose it was potentially scarier, but knew nothing different.

FlicketyB Thu 27-Feb-14 16:36:43

In pre-DVD days I made journeys of up to four hours and very occasionally longer when my two were tiny for a similar reason to Phoenixes friend, husband away off shore.

I would plan my route, particularly when it was unknown. I drove to the Norfolk Broads from Berkshire once, cross country all the way. I had road numbers and towns written on a sheet of paper as well as a road map.

Regular loo stops and snacks are essential, plus singing songs and playing games.

So much easier with Sat Nav and DVDs

Nonnie Thu 27-Feb-14 16:52:02

Our journey is roughly the same but is mainly motorway and dual carriageways so the driving part is quite easy. We stop at one of the motorway service stations for a break and that seems to be enough but could do more if required for loo breaks.

Phoenix I should encourage her to go for it, a 2 year old is bound to sleep for some of the time and any older children would be happy with music and conversation and some toys. Simples.

cathybee Thu 27-Feb-14 19:21:29

I think its more to do with how she feels P and not just how far.

It sounds like she is unsure about it and has some concerns, NOT a good start and could be potentially dangerous because she does not sound confident about the journey.

Four hrs is a long way for a toddler with no one to help her supervise. I think her concerns are very valid and I would advice her against making the trip.

The motorway can be a very dangerous place and you need total concentration when driving on the motorway!!

Perhaps they could visit her instead.

Nonnie Thu 27-Feb-14 19:27:25

I agree Cathy if the mother is nervous about the driving it might be too much for her but I doubt it would bother the child. A confident parent would find it a breeze though.

Gally Thu 27-Feb-14 19:44:21

My daughter drives with her two boys (2 and 3) from Wiltshire to north Norfolk regularly. She also drives to me in Fife on her own but does welcome an additional passenger and occasionally recruits her 14 year old stepson when available. It just depends on how confident you are and how the children react on a long journey. She tends to leave home around tea time, stops for a break and food and then they sleep the rest of the way but she does stop for a break every couple of hours. Living 500 miles from most of the family, we have always done long car journeys and she is just used to it. As recommended, dvd's and DC's help the time pass!

Gally Thu 27-Feb-14 19:45:56

Cd's (iPad keeps 'correcting' me!)

rosequartz Thu 27-Feb-14 19:46:26

When DD2 was 2 my DF was very ill and I had to regularly ask my neighbour to pick up DD1 and DS from school, pack a suitcase and drive around London (pre M25,) up the m1 and m6 to stay for a few days, then back again.
I didn't enjoy the journey and it was before dvd players etc. but we managed it quite often. I used to drive DD1 and DS around a lot on my own as DH was away.
From experience with DC and DGC 2 year olds can be difficult re pit stops etc unless still in nappies.
Some good advice on here, and coinciding with a sleep is a good idea.

Lona Thu 27-Feb-14 19:54:49

If they're out of nappies, it wouldn't hurt to put the child in 'pullups' for the journey. A lot less hassle than a wet seat and clothes.

rosequartz Thu 27-Feb-14 20:02:01

Yes, having stopped on a quiet hard shoulder with DD1 and DGC for an emergency pitstop, were dismayed to find police car pull up behind us! Very nice policeman offered to let us go into the highways depot a few yards further on but DGC was so upset he was unable to do one.

granjura Thu 27-Feb-14 20:17:06

WE all love driving in the family- but if she is nervous, and not used to travel longer journeys and Mways- could someone who also drives go with her the first time- sure she will find it much less daunting once she has done it with a bit of support and company.

gettingonabit Fri 28-Feb-14 11:29:05

I'm with those who advise caution. I'm a very confident, laid back driver normally but travelling with a 2year old would fill me with dread, especially on motorways. Four hours is a long time to be in sole charge of a potentially carsick, messy, whingy, tantrumming creature over whom you will be unable to exercise any control.

Could she leave it, take someone for moral support or get in-laws to visit her instead?

Anne58 Fri 28-Feb-14 12:24:34

Many thanks for all the responses, much appreciated!

It would be a bit difficult for them to come to her for overnight stays, she doesn't have a guest room and the in laws have a dog that doesn't get on with cats!

I think it may just be a matter of confidence, and I'm pretty sure that once she's done it for the first time she will be fine. Good idea re. taking someone with you for the first run, she's a sociable soul with lots of friends in the village!

seaspirit Fri 28-Feb-14 12:34:02

easier to travel with kids in the car then on the train, you can plan your journey to stop off at regular intervals for her to play, get her story tapes and song tapes to help the travel and you can get her to look out for things along the way

TriciaF Fri 28-Feb-14 12:55:06

Our english neighbour drives over to Liverpool from sw France often, with her little girl who is now 3. The child seems to sleep most of the time, and they stay halfway overnight in a hotel.
I wouldn't want to do it, but she likes driving and has a good car.

BlueBelle Fri 28-Feb-14 12:58:28

Just to say don't be put off if anyone doesn't drive I have brought 3 little girls cross country, three changes on the train every year for a number of years, with suitcases too, and it is perfectly do-able and they have loved it as they always travel by car with their parents so my trains and buses are great fun for them

It is about confidence I was daunted by the thought before I did it first time

FlicketyB Sat 01-Mar-14 00:15:18

If a child is properly strapped into their car seat. No problem is likely to be disastrous. You just grit your teeth and stop as soon as is convenient in the next few miles.

Just make sure there no party balloons in the car. DD once thought it funny to let her party balloon loose and the balloon came between me and windscreen. She didn't do it twice.

I drove both grandchildren (3 & 6) around last week without problem while on my own.

Vesper Sun 16-Mar-14 07:54:17

I regularly did those sorts of drives, with all ages of kids.
Take plenty of supplies, and be prepared to stop as often or a s little as needed (off motorway, check pit stops)
Remember a handy bottle of water for mum, who will need it if she does lots of singing!
I come from a "story telling" family so I would talk about the places we drove through and tell child friendly tales about them (easy now to look up on the internet). My grown up kids remember them well, and astonish friends with their "local" knowledge! Even a 2 year old will like to hear mum telling tales, however much or little they understand - they will "grow into" the stories.