23 Jul The 7 Simple Rules of Family Road Trippin’
Load up the kids, fill up the car, and drive. I’ve been driving home to visit family for nearly 20 years, and 22 hours later, we arrive. Yes…22 HOURS later. I’ve learned a lot about road trips in the last few years. Here are a few:
- What happens in the car, stays in the car. While remaining respectful, conversations can be a bit more relaxed. We’ve had some silly and embarrassing talks and we’ve had some serious ones. Kids seem to be more open to discussing life stuff when they are confined.
- You don’t need fancy things to keep them busy. I’ve done “activity boxes,” window markers (bad, bad, bad idea), special snacks, lots of movies, new books – you name it, I’ve most likely tried it. Save your money. Count the license plates, sing songs, eat junk food, sit in silence, and bring the electronics (it’s really okay).
- But then sometimes it’s fun to think outside the box. One year we brought some blank note cards and wrote notes of encouragement to fellow travelers at gas stations. We put the notes on their windshields and watched them as they opened the cards from afar. Some were completely weirded out while others smiled and looked to find us. Encouraging others and being sneaky about it was really fun.
- Momma’s gonna lose it and that’s ok. Let’s be real – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows the entire time. There’s a point when everyone gets annoyed with the sounds and smells and overall air people are taking up. If your reaction is less than Facebook post-worthy, it’s okay. What else are your kids going to talk about when they are adults?
- Skip the food and set a budget. I used to pack all kinds of (healthy) snacks for the road. Two things happened: (1) Snacks ended up on all over but in mouths, and (2) Stopping for gas requires a junk food run. I gave up on the loads of snacks and set a gas station budget and let them loose.
- Have a cutoff. Knowing we’re going to stop at a certain destination or at a certain time helps keep the questions to a minimum. Because, no, we aren’t there yet.
- The hours are long but the trip is short. We have a short, short time with them. And what we do have is manipulated by the outside world; this time is our time and we should take full advantage of it. Create in them a spirit of adventure, of inside jokes, of knowing smiles, and of secret languages. Build in them a foundation of family.
That’s very much what happens in the car with your kids. They too will see you just as you are, because that’s all you have. Allow them to connect with you on a different level – losing a bit of control for 22 hours isn’t going to ruin your parenting role, it may just strengthen it. Every time we get in the car I know God is going to work something great. Through road trips, I’ve shared my heart, my past, my hopes, and my faith with my kids. I do this at home, but in a car, it seems our conversations can deepen because we aren’t distracted by schedules or doorbells. We’re stuck and that’s a good thing.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Renee Beste is a wife, mom, marketing manager, and lover of Jesus, chaos, and fun.