How to Keep Your Sanity And Even Enjoy Time in the Car With the Kids

Ways to Make Travel With Kids FunLet me paint a picture. Imagine you’re making your way from point A to point B during an after work, “soccer-moming” extravaganza, aka transporting the kids from (fill in that day’s activity), to run by the store, you forgot (insert item here), and head home to make dinner.

When arguing in the way-way back erupts (think third row seating).  Your head hurts, you’re running on empty.  Here’s what you need in that moment, to make this experience just a wee bit easier to navigate…without screaming at the kids.  Or you can do that too, but I don’t recommend it.

You’ve likely been here.  I certainly have.  In some version of the above story. So what’s a normally level headed mom to do in these obnoxious moments?  I mean, they’re going to happen.  Here are a few ideas.

To handle the kids

Explain the new 60 seconds of silence game that is required for mom’s sanity, then book it to Starbucks for your favorite drink.  It doesn’t have to be coffee and they do have decaf.  In these moments I’m not above bribery.  I live in the real world.  If they can stay silent all the way to Starbucks, conveniently located in our favorite grocery store, then I will likely get them a treat.  Not every day, but on a day like this, when I really want to pull out my hair, yes, I will go this route.  I’m only human and so are you.

Possibly a better option, have the kids pick a number between 1-10.  Whoever guesses closest gets to pick the song or radio station.  Feel free to continue the momentum here by instigating a traveling house party dance and sing along.  My girls love this one.  And I get a kick out of their belting out the words of their favorite songs.  It definitely lightens the mood.

Another option that changes things up, and usually gets a few laughs or strange looks from the back seat, is to say a random or made up word or noise.  I usually get a look that says, mom, have you lost it?  But it does create a distraction, safe for driving, that just might get the fighting to stop long enough you can redirect the chaos.

To help you

Meanwhile, you may just need a little bit of mom care to make it through.  I like to go to my happy place in these tense times.  I’m not imagining an actual place, although that might work too. (I’d totally day dream about Australia any day). But instead focus on how you want to feel.  You could think of something that you are really grateful for, and feel an abundant sense of gratitude.  You could think of someone you really love, and feel an incredibly amount of love.  You get the idea, flood yourself with happiness.

Engage in modified nostril breathing.  You are driving after all.  But you can still apply the same principles by using two fingers to allow yourself to breathe deeply and slowly through alternating nostrils.  It will likely help with the headache too.

Turn on a song you enjoy and focus on that.  Use the a/c or heated seats if you’ve got‘em.  Sometimes a distraction is all mom needs too.  I’ve been known to blast the a/c briefly and take a slow deep breath, at a stop light of course.  It gives me just enough centering to mom on.

For next time, have on hand…

To make these times in the car better going forward, plan ahead with these small boosts.  Plant a yummy, non-melting this time of year, snack in your bag.  Take a small piece and savor it in those testy times.  And don’t share!  Probably best for the kids not to know you have it actually.

Pack your favorite essential oil scent for calming or energizing, whatever would help you get through.  Scent is such a powerful trigger to shifting your mindset and mood.  Share them with the kids too.

Create a music list for your Spotify or iTunes.  You can always listen to it from your phone with one ear bud if necessary.  I’ve done this.  It’s gold.  Sometimes a mom just needs to tune out the distractions momentarily.

Always travel with water and snacks for yourself and the littles.  Dehydration and hunger will add to this frenzy for sure.  If I don’t have a snack for after work, I’m really dragging by the time I get home and I still have to make dinner.  Simple solutions make this time of day so much more manageable and even fun with the kids.


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