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  • Gareth Ellis

Shoutout to the 'Co-Pilots'

When you’re in the car on a long journey with children, a good passenger is essential.

So often, Jess and I will be in the car together for these journeys and most of the time I’ll be driving, which is great because I’m really comfortable with driving.

When we get to where we’re going, or even when we get back home, Jess will often say ‘thank you for driving,’ but I don’t always make a big enough deal about the job she has to do too.

So, Jess, take this as my open thank you – and here’s why.

As a driver your job is important, obviously. You have to stay focussed for the whole journey, making sure you stay safe, and you get off at the right junctions etc. It’s quite often draining, and I’m always knackered when I’ve driven for a little way.

As the passenger though, Jess has an equally important job. Now, before I start this I have to say, our kids are incredibly good on long journeys – but I think a lot of that has to do with my co-pilot.

Her job involves so much that involves keeping the children happy and quiet – not easy once they’re starting to get bored.

She sits in the front of the car with reduced leg room so she can hold on to books, snacks and drinks as well as controlling the music they may want to listen to. She picks up the toys etc that they drop, and she makes sure that they’re warm enough and entertained.

She also relays any messages to me. I haven’t got the best hearing, so sometimes I struggle to hear what the children are asking, especially so on a busy motorway. And travelling at 70mph you haven’t got the time to look in the mirror and read their lips.

Recently, I had to do both ‘jobs’ and I have to admit it was very tough. Jess finds it hard enough trying to turn from the passenger’s seat, so me having to try and turn from the driver’s side was just as tough. As you’d expect I tried to prepare as much as I could but sometimes it’s hard to prepare for EVERYTHING. You can’t just chuck two hours’ worth of snacks at them and think that will work. Or pile 10 books on each of them and think they will stay quiet. That’s why I’m so grateful for what Jess does, as it allows me to concentrate fully on what I need to do – get us wherever we’re going, safely.

As the kids get older, we need to think of more ideas to help them on longer trips.

We’ve bought tablets for Christmas for the children, and we’ve heard from a lot of people that they’re great, especially for the longer journeys.

I’m genuinely intrigued as to what other people do for their kids on long journeys. And at what age do children start to just chill in the car, or want to chat, rather than eating their body weight in food?

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