I don’t know about you, but my summer is flying by like I’ve been drivin’ 90mph in a convertible. So fun! And so fast. Cue the tears and whimpering. As we prepare to say goodbye to summer, we may also be bracing ourselves for the increase in crazy that the school year can bring. Homework, projects, tests, sports practices, music lessons, tournaments, volunteering, productions, lunch packing can all seem somewhat daunting. And, holy cow, the driving. The driving! Now the driving is so often copious, but what if…? What if all that driving creates precious space for connecting with kids?
Connecting While Driving Here and There
Over here at ICM, we’ve been reflecting on just what a gift the extra car time is for meaningful conversation with kids. In the busyness, we can lose track of each other and long for the windows of connection we found during our summer road trips, slow mornings and family BBQs. But the space for connecting with kids is still there while zipping around town from activity to activity. And we’ve come up with a few ideas for doing just that. We’d love to hear in the comments below how you’re connecting with kids amidst school year craziness, too. Whether they’re your kids you’re driving around, kids you care for or neighborhood kids in your carpool, give us your ideas!
Ways Of Connecting with Kids Without Even Talking
Sharing Music: It can be hard to keep up since the music scene so rapidly changes in the Information Age. Nonetheless, find out what music your kids are listening to and what their favorites are. As you’re driving around, have it playing. This works for all age groups, keeps us parents young at heart, and helps your kids feel like you value their interests. Play some of your music from when you were a child, too; it may even be hip again. (Let’s be real, it never went out of style.) This may bring up stories you can share with your kids about that time in your life. It could expand their musical preferences. Or maybe you just laugh together at how ridiculously bad it is now.
Moments of Silence: As life gets busy, one of the first things to get squeezed out is time to get quiet. I get consumed by the tasks, and all other things can get sidelined. This is true for our kids, too. And with cell phones constantly in hand that keep our brains whirring even when we’re not actively doing anything at all beyond scrolling, we can struggle to remain centered in our lives. Before beginning a drive together, take a few moments to just be quiet, take a few deep breaths and receive God’s peaceful presence in your midst. Not only can this practice set the tone for what’s ahead in the day and lower stress, but it also improves overall health, too.
Ways Of Connecting with Kids Through Conversation
Gratitude Alphabet: This will likely work best for kids ages 3-10 years or so. Going through the alphabet, share a thing you’re thankful for in your life right now. Go around the car, each person taking the next letter in succession. For example, the first person to start could say something like, “I’m thankful for my best friend, Annie.” Then, the next person is on B and says, “I’m thankful that I got to bat during P.E. baseball today.” Next person is on C, and so on. This encourages gratitude in our kids and conversation between you and them. Additionally, it can give a window into what has gone on in your children’s recent days. A few other great ways of expressing gratitude can be found in our post on ten different ways to pray with kids.
Silly Descriptions of the Day: This will likely work well for kids 7 years old and up. As the day comes to a close and you drive home, ask your kids how they would describe their day in various silly ways. Use any of the following prompts and others you think up.
If your day was…
- …an animal, what would it be and why?
- …a type of geographical terrain, what would it be and why?
- …a TV show, what would it be and why?
- …a song, what would it be and why?
- …a sport, what would it be and why?
- …a flower, what would it be why?
- …a piece of clothing, what would it be and why?
- …a smell, what would it be and why?
- …a movie, what would it be and why?
- …a type of food, what would it be and why?
We would love to hear how you’re planning on connecting with your kids this coming school year in those in-between times. Share your ideas with all of us in the comments section below!