So sometimes life gets in the way and you just cannot do everything. Such has been the case this last two weeks. I am sure you all have been busy too but I wanted to get this out as a follow-up to my last post, “Road Tripping” before this weekend, the busiest car travel weekend of the summer! I don’t know about your summer, but mine is flying by!
I just wanted to give you four reasons to consider limiting your child’s use of electronics on your road trips. Here are my list based on many miles logged as a child and as a parent:
1. They will miss out on scenery, landmarks and culture differences. They need to see how other places look compared to where they live. They need to learn how roads work and highways and interstates connect to move us and all the “stuff” they want across this country. You do want them to be able to drive someday and this is a part of the process; learning how to maneuver around, pay a toll, etc.
2. They will be like me and be a little map challenged. Stop at a State Travel Center and pick up a free map! I know how to read a map, however I sometimes miss the little curves or bends in the road which highly frustrates my main driver. Your kids won’t always have their GPS working, nor do you want them using it for a five hour drive lest you have no data left. Also, in most states, they will be taking Geography class in high school where they will still need to read/draw an old fashioned map. Have your kiddos discover other landmarks that you are driving near that are not on your agenda. Encourage them to look at what is nearby. Have them use their deductive reasoning skills and discover on the map why you are seeing so many boat dealers, gas stations with numerous ice machines and other drivers pulling boats!
3. Playing non electronic games help build memories and memories! They help build great memories of shared experiences of traveling together but they also help build up your child’s memorization skills. After helping two young men the past three years who have poor memorizations skills and limited deductive reasoning, I realized how important those early years of simple games, stories and rhymes help develop these skills in your children, really without you concentrating on these goals.
I will list a few of my/our favorite games below, but I also want to talk a bit about the time spent in the car when you are not traveling on vacation, but just have a long commute. For most of our married life, we have a long commute to church and shopping. At one point when all of the children were much younger, I remember feeling like those times were wasted and that we were living our lives in the car. Then I decided to embrace the time as captive moments when I had my little audience trapped! I recalled my old Joy Bus days of teaching when we didn’t waste the trip back to the building but rather taught the children all the way. So I made up some flash cards and started quizzing the kids on Bible facts, spelling words, etc. If I was driving, the older girls read them, if my husband was driving I read them. In later years, the cards were abandoned and sometimes I would use the time to quiz my kids on the application of Biblical principles by asking them about situations. Now, with only having occasional trips with my last two, we sometimes discuss their future, what was discussed in their Bible class or just catch up on what they have been doing. When their friends ride with you, be quiet and learn! Don’t waste these precious moments because soon they will be driving and the opportunities will be lost.
4. They (and you) need to know how to function without internet and video. Now lest you think I am too old to understand, let me just say that I may have been the biggest user of data on our last trip! I have multi-tasked for so many years that I am struggling to undo this behavior. While we were cruising down the long road I had to stop myself from picking up my phone when I wasn’t reading, watching a movie with the kids, or taking my turn driving. I was also guilty of working for a while on this blog! The point is though that we need to learn to disconnect. We are headed to Haiti with 16 teenagers next week and I know one of the biggest challenges were are going to face isn’t going to be the different language, the poverty or the food, it will be having to limit the kids on their social media time. Even though these kids take a break from it a couple of times a year at camp or a retreat, it is hard to do, but we all need to learn to turn it off and just be still.
We have always had a rule in our car that the trip has to take longer than 2 hours before the video system is turned on. We used to always say that everyone had to read for a minimum of 30 minutes before a movie could be watched. I routinely see cars in regular daily traffic with video systems on. I know that this must really help moms while they are running errands, etc. I just encourage you to not let your kids think they “have” to have this on for the car to move. I am really unsure about the new vehicles equipped with wifi. While this sounds like a dream in some ways, it makes it even harder to disconnect. Part of vacationing/traveling is doing something different! Also, if your kids quit looking down at their devices there is usually less complaints of car sickness.
One more alternative to try might be listening to a podcast as a family! When the kids were young we loved our “Adventures in Odyssey” cds from Focus on the Family. Now you can get about any kind of genre and story line on podcast, or even better a narrated book on Audible. A great one for the whole family is the “Word of Promise Complete Audio Bible”. This is narrated by various actors in dramatic fashion and can help your children realize the Bible is the Living Word. Try listening to a classic like “Huckleberry Finn” or “Swiss Family Robinson”.
So here are some of games I grew up playing and have played with my kids:
Alphabet Game: Version 1, “I’m going to Arkansas and I am going to act like an ape in Arkadelphia.”
Version 2, “I’m going on a trip and I am taking an apple.” The next person has to repeat the previous person’s item and add their own with the next letter until the end of the alphabet. (“I’m going on a trip and I am taking an apple and a bicycle.”)
Store Owner’s Game: I own a men’s clothing store and I sell something that starts with a “T”. Other players have to guess. The store can be any kind of store so the possibilities of items are endless.
I spy: Make up a list with items you will most likely see on your trip and one or two unusual ones and have an older child or parent keep track of what has been spied. The first person to spy all the items on the list wins.
License Plate Game: Try to identify as many different states as possible. We used to have a really cool magnetic chart with these but this might be a good one where you allow the electronics to complement this game.
So let us know where you are traveling this summer and what games or podcasts you like to listen to. One of these days I will list all my favorite podcasts. Until then, stay cool and safe.