Dance parties in the car

Turn the music on or better yet, play a CD that you know your kids like to dance to and encourage them to sing their hearts out and move to the music, sitting down. With songs averaging 3 to 4 minutes a piece, a CD will get you through at least one way and then you can play a new one on the way home. This type of fun gets everyone involved and will even put a smile on those not so “good morning” attitudes.

Highs and Lows

This is a great game and an important one to play, especially at the end of the day. Ask each of your kids what their high and low was for the day. High means the best thing that happened (movie at school), and Low means something they’d prefer not to deal with again or a situation they would like to do over (someone hurt their feelings). Not only do these questions get your kids thinking, but it gets parent and child communicating. Even if your son doesn’t feel like talking or says he can’t think of anything, say, “Okay, well, when you’re ready, I’d love to hear it. I’ll tell you mine first.” Keep your “Low” age-appropriate for them but do share if you’ve had a bad moment or disappointment during the day. This reminds your kids that you’re human, too!

The Alphabet Game

You might remember this one from road trips you’ve taken in years past. Tweak the game a little and see if your child can find the letter and then tell you what the word says. For example, “Hannah, tell me when you find the letter ‘B’ and then tell me what the word spells.” This is great for elementary aged kids who are learning how to read. For the younger ones, just have them spot the letters for you. It’s still fun and they’ll be encouraged to get through the entire alphabet.

Breakfast Bar

Some days, we have to eat our breakfast in the car. This is not something that I want to get accustomed to, but there are mornings when we just don’t have the time to sit down at the table. The night before I know will be a busy next day, I put my kids’ breakfast in snack bowls and get their cups filled and in the fridge so that I can just pull everything out in the morning.

Think dry cereal, granola bars, yogurt drinks, muffins, and fruit. If you want a low-key commute in the morning that doesn’t involve a lot of screaming, yelling and whining, food is always the answer. Always. This is also true for the car ride home. Make sure you have snacks at all times. Kids are always “starving” when they get of school and there’s nothing quite like a satisfied child and a full belly for playing outside or tackling homework.

Encouraging Phone Calls

I sometimes use my commute time to make phone calls, and I am specific about who I call during that time. Ever heard the phrase, “Little ears are listening?” Your kids are super close to you in the car and can hear what you’re saying even when you think they can’t or even when you assume they are not paying attention. I usually call my grandmother. I want my kids to hear me speaking words of encouragement into her ear just as much as I want them seeing me being poured into by her words of wisdom.

Embrace the car ride for what it is – the next season of your life for which you can choose to turn into something productive.

Get yourself ready for tomorrow’s car ride. It’s going to be a good one!

– Meagan Ruffing

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