Tag Archive | "children"

Are We Nearly There Yet? (Part Two)

When it comes to buying a new car, or a used car come to that, the car that we want is the car that we want, right? Wrong. The car that we really want is the car that that we need. For most of us this is the financial reality in today’s economic situation when just the one motor is your limit. This obviously isn’t so much of a problem if you are single and fancy free but the family man has to have a different set of priorities.

Having children is a strangely anomalous state. It is wonderful, terrifying, frustrating and hugely annoying in pretty much equal measures and has a major and lifelong effect on your existence. Children in cars are often responsible for the hugely annoying bit, as we have seen earlier on Motor Blogger. So what sort of car is it that parents can happily buy in the certain knowledge that your children, at least, will be moderately content?

Clearly, you’ll need to satisfy yourself on the basics – economy, performance, optional extras and the like but then you’ve got to factor in the ankle-biters. The AA, bless them, have supplied a list of downloadable fun and games online to keep children amused at least for some of the duration of a long journey. They’re good too, but we’re also concerned with practical aspects.

The average family would probably favour a hatchback over a saloon for obvious reasons but what about the back seats? Naturally, you would go for a five door and it is useful if the back doors open wide – which implies a larger vehicle, like an SUV or MPV. Loading small ones into difficult to access child seats is not a lot of fun. This is where sliding rear doors come into their own. The 7 seat Ford Grand C-Max (pictured), for example, has sliding doors and a variable rear seat layout for maximum child effectiveness.

Some manufacturers also supply so-called ‘stadium seating’ – the rear seats are higher than the fronts – which gives kids a better forward view and is alleged to reduce travel sickness. And speaking of projectile vomiting, don’t worry about leather seats as they are a lot easier to swab down! It might be a good idea to avoid beige.

A twelve volt socket is a must, for plugging in hand-held games or, if you can afford the option, how about seat-back DVD screens for the more discerning square-eyed child. The average family car also requires more storage space than Cheryl Cole’s (né e Tweedy, for the purists) dressing room. It wasn’t so many years ago that we marvelled at the advent of the cup-holder. How naïve we must have been back then.

Most car makers have suitable offerings so it’s worth doing your homework first. The outcome is unlikely to be the sexiest option but both you and your children will be happier and that’s the important thing.

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Are We Nearly There Yet? (Part One)

Any experienced family man reading this will feel an immediate affinity with the subject matter; they may shudder and possibly become a little withdrawn. I am talking, of course, about the long distance family outing.

It has been calculated that the moment the cry of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ goes up is precisely twenty four minutes into the journey. This is apparently the amount of time that any British child between the ages of 2 and 8 will need to start complaining, whingeing and fidgeting from the point of being buckled in.

Quite why the researchers responsible – at TomTom, incidentally – have chosen to pick on British children is not known although they do say that Australian brats are worse, becoming fractious in a mere 23 minutes. This may be because they keep getting sprayed by foam from the tins of lager being opened up front. Interestingly, just across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, it takes a full 34 minutes for their offspring to start turning into violent revolutionaries.

Other nations don’t fare much better. Surprisingly, the French – always a petulant people – take 30 minutes, the same as the Yanks; but, of course, American kids are too busy shoving massive quantities of glutinous grub down their necks to worry about where they are going.

Thank goodness, I hear you say, that Motor Blogger is here to help. With the Summer holidays coming up you’ll need some sage advice to avoid to any great extent the problem of children in cars. First off: if you live anywhere near London this Olympic year there is no hope for you at all, as – and you know this to be a truth universally acknowledged – it is just going to be one huge traffic snarl-up. For the rest of you – apart from those lucky enough to afford laptops tuned to the new Junior Facebook – try making up some fun games which, according to TomTom 75% of you already do. If that doesn’t work try bribery, but remember, kids today are very sophisticated so a packet of wine gums is not going to do the trick. Cash inducements are usually required – and you’d better be able to fold it.

You’d think that TomTom, having done the research, would come up with some answers, wouldn’t you? There should be a button to press that will produce a selection of carefully targeted responses to the dreaded question but it doesn’t yet seem they are going to do so. They should consult parents. Of course the real answer is to lie through your teeth. Tell them that your destination, although still four hours away, is ‘just up here and around the corner’. It works for a while. Alternatively, try vacationing just twenty three minutes away from your house.

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Mum Is A Better Driver Than Dad – Discuss

The word on the street is that all male drivers believe that women should not be driving and that the place of the lady / wife / partner (delete as appropriate) is in the kitchen, possibly baking, whilst wearing pretty dresses and smelling of a discreet, but never provocative, perfume.

Here at Motor Blogger, of course, we would never, ever subscribe to such a theory. Perish the thought. Absolutely unacceptable; and it seems that the children of Britain agree, as a survey suggests that they prefer Mum to drive. Now, all parents know that children will brown-nose the adult who can provide the necessary service / lift / cash advance (delete as appropriate) at any given point in time. They are wily creatures. However, a massive 60% of ankle-biters have stated that, when the mother is driving, they are happier and more relaxed.

Apparently Mum is more considerate to other road users and does not lane-hop. Road rage is unknown. Mums are also likely to engage in lively conversation to keep the family happy, even to the point of cheerily singing, and are the parent of choice for the school run. Unfortunately the kids have also sort of grassed Mum up about stalling the car and her bizarre inability to park in a space the size of a football pitch. Now, before you Ladies start reaching for the Molotov cocktails, please remember that we’re only reporting a survey. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Fathers, meanwhile, get a bit of a raw deal. They drive too fast and too aggressively. They are prone to road rage and are seen as a bad example to the future driver in the back seat; but let’s go for a bit of fairness here, shall we? Not all men are road hogs; some are the saints of the streets, always ready to absolutely maximise the mileage out of a gallon of petrol, even if it means driving at 30mph in the middle lane of a motorway. These tarmac heroes will always know a shortcut from Stevenage to Basingstoke, even if you don’t want to go there, and are ready with technical advice at the drop of a clutch.

So balance in all things, right? Children will say anything to keep in with Mum. It’s a well known fact. So in the meantime I’m going to give you two quotes from my old man which have stood me in good stead over the years:

“If you don’t stop moaning I’m going to turn this car around and go home just as soon as I can get past this cretin!” and “Ask your Mother!”

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