Statistics show that more and more time is being spent in a car. Does your family meet that mold? When we read that the average mom spends 66 minutes per day driving, we both laughed. Only 66 minutes?!!
For many families in 2017, car time = #RealTime. Whether it is to and from school, or activities, or maybe tournaments and road trips, many families find themselves in the car at the same time and that means there is value in getting clear on expectations for time in the car.
Get clear on how your family will use car time.
Julie volunteered to drive her 5 year old niece to swimming lessons one day. After she figured out the latest and greatest car seat, she got into the driver’s seat and heard,
“Auntie, cars are for singing and storytelling. I’ll sing you a song!”
You can just imagine the smile that spread across Julie’s face.
Cars really can be for singing and storytelling. They can be for making conversation or for listening to a great digital book or some favourite tunes. They can be about telling jokes and playing games. Cars can also be about sitting quietly and looking out the window.
It’s not hard for cars to become a box on wheels in which each human is plugged into a different device and in their own little world.
The question is – what kind of car time do you want?
Kids live what they learn and learn what they live. The car time habits we create are the ones that will stick. Would you ever get into a car with your friend and have each of you put in earbuds for the trip? Would you ever offer to drive a friend somewhere and then put in a video and let her watch it while you drove her there?
We are guessing that you wouldn’t do these things to a friend.
Now, if it was a really long car ride, might you listen to a digital book or a radio program? It would likely be the same one for both of you in the vehicle.
If we want our kids to learn interpersonal skills, how to make conversation, how to use patience to get through a song we dislike before we get to choose the next song, and how to self-entertain, they need to practice it. What’s more, cars are great places for having tricky conversations. Everyone is strapped in, there is no need for awkward eye to eye moments and there are opportunities for extended silences and thinking times.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
How would you like your family to be spending car time?
Are there times when you feel okay about turning on a video in the car? If yes, are you clear about the guidelines (more than 200 Km trip, late night driving?)
When is it okay for your kids to be playing games on their phones in the car?
What is your policy on texting and driving? Do you model this behaviour for your kids?
Maybe your family rules will differ on long vs. short trips. Getting clear on your expectations of when these things can happen and how you will spend other times together in the car is worth it. When you know the answers to these questions and can clearly state them to your kids, you are better able to remain consistent and your kids won’t need to test your boundaries very much.