Nearly half of parents admit they find car journeys stressful – with kids’ antic addings hours to journey time

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  • Squabbling siblings, unpredictable bladders and forgotten ‘blankies’ add 29 hours to car journeys every year, according to new research.

    A study of 2,000 mums and dads found a quarter get annoyed by kids kicking the backseat, and more than a third get stressed by their little ones complaining of boredom.

    And three in 10 find toilet breaks an annoying aspect of driving with kids.

    As a result, an additional 33 minutes is added to weekly journeys resulting in late arrivals and delayed departures because they have to stop for comfort breaks, as well as missed turnings and leaving things behind.

    The research, commissioned by car retailer cinch, also found siblings fighting, mess in the back seats and children’s constant need for attention also featured as some of the biggest stress triggers for mums and dads.

    MORE: School run is most stressful time of day for parents

    Because of this, seven in 10 admit they don’t always enjoy car journeys, but parents agreed some minor modifications – such as a bigger boot, more leg room for everyone and WiFi – would help alleviate this stress for them.

    Parenting psychologist Emma Kenny, who has shed some light on surviving car journeys with children, said, “Whilst car journeys can be considered stressful, this research shows the amazing opportunity that they present for families to have uninterrupted opportunities to spend time together.

    “Travelling side by side has been proven to be an effective communications strategy as it puts those talking at ease and lowers performance pressure, which can occur when speaking face-to-face.

    parents stressful car journeys kids antics

    Having something to do during a car journey could help little ones stay a bit calmer (Credit: Getty)

    “The car can provide a great opportunity for families to connect with one another and bond, especially on longer journeys – so make the most of the time together.”

    The research also found nearly a third of parents get frustrated by constant questions and complaints during car journeys, with “are we there yet?”, “I’m hungry” and “I need the loo” among the most common grumbles from youngsters.

    In a bid to ease the worries of long journeys, nine in 10 let their kids do things in the car they wouldn’t normally when at home – including rewards for good behaviour, additional screen time and letting them eat more treats.

    MORE: This is how many times a day parents feel stressed because of their children

    Almost half of mums and dads will let their children take control of the music during a car journey, despite 14 per cent admitting that doing so can make the trips more hectic.

    The study, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed what kids would like in order to improve car journeys, which included more room in the back, unlimited YouTube videos and a ban on siblings in the car.

    Other suggestions from children to make journeys more tolerable would be bigger windows, their own iPad to watch what they want and even toys to annoy the rest of the family with.

    More ambitious modifications youngsters would suggest for their ‘dream car’ include seats which turn into beds, WiFi, a cinema and a sweet dispenser with unlimited treats.

    MORE: Most parents agree having a messy home is more stressful than losing a child in a crowd

    However, nine in 10 children admitted they DO enjoy car journeys – albeit not all of the time.

    A spokesperson for cinch added: “Cinch may not be able to install an unlimited sweet dispenser in the back of a car, or help you fly over traffic, but we know how important finding the right car is for family lives.

    “Our research shows that parents and kids often have the same gripes, and a factor like more leg room can transform long car journeys for the better.”