My brother and I recently got out our family slides. In our family, most of our family pictures were taken while on vacation, and all of our vacations involved long car trips! I have some great memories of those days--views of the Grand Canyon , collecting fire flies with my cousins, and hiking through that truly holy place Sequoia National Park. Unfortunately, I can also remember conversations that went something like this coming from the back seat.
“He’s touching me”
“I did not you liar!”
“Don’t cross this line!”
You get the idea. While the photos look like we are having a lovely time, I do remember that when boredom took over—we drove our parents insane!
So, how can you make sure that your lovely, scenic drive doesn’t turn into a miserable endurance test with bickering and bullying from the backseat?
Yes, you can set up the environment in the car to insure that your trip will be as fun as you’ve always dreamed.
Here’s some tips:
1. Create a check list before you leave the house with all the important items you need to pack. For example, medications, special toys or lovies, timer, etc. A client of mine mentions the camping trip from hell when they forgot to pack their son’s meds! Oy!
It’s a good idea to allow your child to choose items to take. That way you are sure to get exactly what is most important to her right now. You may need to negotiate a bit in case he chooses that life size stuffed Godzilla Uncle Joe gave him last Christmas, but giving your child some input allows him to choose what’s most important to him.
2. Keep extra bottles of water and snacks available in the car. Sure you can usually find a place to stop, but having food and drinks readily available will save money, be more healthy, and insure that there’s something your pickiest eater will be happy with.
For snacks think high protein and complex carbohydrates like string cheese, jerky, peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, apples or baby carrots. Avoid sugary snacks that can cause blood sugars to rapidly increase (high energy) then rapidly decrease (irritability)
3. Make frequent stops. Make the most of every stop by doing something physically active. Throw a ball around or challenge your child to a race. Find a playground and just play for a while.
If your child has trouble with transitions back to the car, bring a timer and show your child that you are setting the timer for 20 minutes and when the timer goes off, it will be time to get back in the car. Give a 5 minute warning and a one minute warning before the timer goes off.
Remember to play with your child—you need to move around too! :)
4. Car games can be a great way to pass the time while also connecting with each other. Play the alphabet game where each person looks for something in the scenery that starts with the next letter in the alphabet. A – automobile, B – boat, C – Cat Tail you get the idea. Its fun! For younger kids, you can specify a color or shape to look for. Find something yellow. Find something triangular. Get creative and make up your own family game tradition.
Have a few new games and new small toys to bring out when the going gets tough. Make sure to save one or two for the trip back also! This can be a lifesaver since something new helps to burn off time. A new art set with markers, colored paper, stickers, etc makes a great one. NOTE: avoid crayons! They melt and stain car seats. (Yep, learned this one the hard way!)
5. Shift the seats. Sometimes even though you have done everything you can to keep everyone entertained and content, it just doesn’t work and tempers will flair. If taking a break is not an option and nothing else seems to be working, consider re-arranging the seating arrangements. Maybe Dad or Mom can sit in the back for a while and put a child in the front seat.
Obviously, airbags and car seats may limit this possibility, but if you can do it, I have found that it can be extremely helpful just to change the environment a bit.
I hope that you find these easy tips helpful in making your car trip more peaceful as well as more fun! Remember to continue to do what works at home while you are on the road.
For example, this is a great opportunity to practice using specific praise directly as well as indirectly. After all you have a captive audience! :) If you haven’t read the free report, “How to Conquer Bad Behavior without Stress,” be sure to get it before the trip. Here is the link in case you need it again.
Let me know how it goes!
Have a great trip!
Self Care: Finding the fun again
So many of us are all about the serious business of life that we seem to forget to have fun. We think watching TV or drinking a glass of wine is relaxing, but is that fun?
I doubt it.
Adult pursuits might be a bit fun, but do they really fill up your “fun” tank? I think to really get that juicy, wild FUN feeling, you have to do something that touches the child inside of you.
One way is to think about what you enjoyed doing (or wished you could do) when you were younger.
- You loved to finger paint when you were 3
- You molded with clay when you were 5
- You rode your bike down that big hill when you were 8
- You played Hide and Go Seek when you were 10
- You sang and danced along to the radio when you were 13
Remember? It might be hard to remember that far back. Try this exercise to get in touch with that fun kid you used to be:
Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Take three or four deep breaths into your belly. Relax into whatever you are sitting or laying down on—really feel the support in your body and relax into it. Now cast your mind back to a time when you were having fun as a child. Don’t rush yourself—allow yourself to be surprised.
It doesn’t matter how old you were or what activity you were doing as long as it was FUN. Remember how you felt then. Remember how your cheeks almost hurt from smiling, and how your heart was dancing with joy. Now ask your child self what would be fun to do right now. That little one is likely to have some wonderful, playful ideas for you.
Now that you have an idea of what to do, you may have to leave your dignified, professional persona behind for a while. Trust me letting that go for a while will be worth it! Fun is the true fountain of youth.
Calm the Chaos Parent Coaching
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Calm the Chaos Newsletter
This Newsletter is copyright (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, all rights reserved. You may freely reprint in any newsletter, website, or print journal. Please send me a copy and include the following attribution:
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All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. Helping families
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Karen DeBolt, MA. Parent Coach and Family Therapist
Struggling with Chaos at home and want happy successful children? Download our free report, “How to conquer bad behavior without stress.” http://www.counselingformoms.com/docs/specificpraise.pdf
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