Most of us don’t like being stuck on the road for too long. We get exhausted, fatigued and it may also pose risks on our health. That’s why every time I manage to beat traffic by using an alternative route or using any other tactic; I become very proud of myself. I always feel like I can write a best-selling book on turning dreams into reality or I can advise our government on budget planning.
On those days when a snarl-up is unavoidable, one of the most devastating things I see on the road is school going children looking in their school buses heading to or from school looking tired and bored. Due to the congestion on the roads, we have forced our kids, just like the rest of us, to leave home an hour or two earlier in order to get to their destinations on time. If traffic jams always feel like a nightmare to us I can only imagine what it does to the young ones who are still in the development stages in their lives. It must be hard for them to wake up earlier than usual just so they can reach class in good time. They are at a stage in their lives where sleep is important and the time they spend doing so is crucial.
In May 2015, eleven pupils of Makini School trapped in their bus for several hours as they were being dropped home from school when waters from the heavy rains made the road impassable. Their bus was unable to move and at some point the students had to stand on the seats because the water level inside the vehicle was rising.
While this was an extreme case, one could see how transport systems affect the security and health of a child which is a major concern to the parents.
My advice to parents would be to ask around your neighborhood and find out what other guardians are doing. If it is possible to find a school that is nearer to your home that provides high quality education it is advisable to move your child to such an institution. Remember your child does not have to endure long hours in traffic. The time they spend on the road could be used to do other useful activities for their growth and development.
So what happens when, for one reason or the other you cannot move your child to a nearer school? Or what if you are stuck with your toddlers in traffic while running an errand or taking a trip? In this day, it is normal for traffic jams to occur even at an unexpected time or place so you have to be prepared for them. Here are a few tips that ensure your child gets a wholesome experience on the road without getting tired or grumpy:
Listen to audio-books. Audio-books can be a fun and easy way to learn while being entertained. Play one on your car radio and watch your children enjoy themselves.
Listen to sing-along music. You can get nursery rhymes or other age appropriate songs at local bookstores or online. Music is therapeutic and it’s even better when we can sing along. You will find that even the older siblings and parents will enjoy these.
Keep a stash of coloring books and sticker books. When traffic comes to a stand till, you can hand these to the children and bring out their artistic side. Drawing books may also be of great help.
Play games. There are games that do not involve a lot of physical activity and can keep your kids busy. Games like i-Spy where you and the children take turns to describe something in the car and the rest try to guess what it is.
Before you leave for the trip make sure you pack enough snacks, drinking water, and medicine for the ones who are unwell. Some small toys and cute blankets for those who would like to nap are essentials that can make your journey smoother.
Make sure the little ones have gone to the bathroom before they start the trip. It gets very uncomfortable to sit in traffic with a full bladder. When the children go to the washroom prior, you reduce their chances of discomfort.
For the older children, you may suggest they read a book or novel they love. Notice that we are trying to come up with ways that help them use their time wisely.
As a parent, you could take advantage of this time and bond with your children. Find out how their day was, what their plans are, try to strengthen your relationship by taking to them and letting them know you are there for them.
For parents who are raising their children following a certain religion, time on the road can be used to guide them through a spiritual devotion. By discussing an excerpt from a religious text or generally meditating, that moment can help the child develop spiritually.
Remember these tips can also work when your child is using school transport. All you need to do is consult with the school and see how they can be incorporated with the school program while considering the needs of fellow pupils.