Thoughts after riding in the car with the kids this first month of summer (without the use of the TV or personal electronics... on purpose) and living to tell the tale.
1- From my competitive perspective, I've seriously considered opening a retail store along I-45 or a restaurant that has words beginning with the letters Q, Z, J, and F.... seriously. Have you ever TRIED to play the alphabet game where you have to find a noun OUTSIDE of the car that starts with a letter of the alphabet???
2- And while we're on the subject, does Texas not use the letter I on their license plates?
3- I actually enjoy riding in the car with 5 kids and a husband- and it's actually possible to get from one place to another WITHOUT the use of the TV or personal electronics for entertainment. Who would have thought?
4- My kids seem to feel more valued, more loved, and oddly, more connected as they've been forced to interact and work through their problems rather than our norm: "Stop hitting your sister!" or "Everybody sit down and put a bubble in your mouth!" and "Watch the movie and be quiet!" and lastly "Mom and dad need some peace and quiet for once! Don't talk. Just sit there." Yeah... that happened... way more frequently than I'd like to admit- even some this summer when I thought I needed to make a phone call.
And it's not that we don't interact with them or want to listen to them, but at the end of a long work day (for both of us) when we get in to the car, the last thing we want is tons of screaming and fighting. But come a little closer and I'll share a little secret I learned- when we play with them and save our grown up quiet time until later, they feel so very, very loved and in turn, they are naturally more pleasant, quieter, more respectful. It's like a magic happy pill when we make those little deposits into their love tanks. Who knew?
5- In the car time doesn't need to be mommy's phone time. That used to be when I'd catch up with all of my friends and family... and then I saw the rear view mirror and realized I wanted to catch up with this little crew- my homies.
|Shoelace. It's what's for dinner.|
So in the mean time, I've alienated some of my friends- not on purpose, but because I realized all of the time I was looking for fulfillment from others and trying to make my own place in the ministry, my main ministry was right in front of me all along.
6- I also learned that my kids are wildly creative- even inside of the car.
7- It's okay to have a little down time every once in a while and not be "on". Sometimes they need to stare out the window and think instead of going in to the twilight zone in their little minds while watching movies (not a slam to those who use movies in the car- just a new way of thinking for this mom who's been using them in the car for years).
8- Books are a great alternative to videos and portable electronics. And they are great conversation starters.
9- Bean salad for dinner is not wise when you intend to spend tons of time in the car the next day... with five children. Just sayin'. Thank you Lord for automatic windows.
10- Not sure how or why, but the car is actually cleaner? Whaaaaaat?
11- One or more of my children maaaaaaay be tone deaf.
12- Muhles do not nap in the car... unless they are sick.
13- Turns out they don't need to be entertained all of the time. Good to know...
14- Moderation is the key for all future use of the TV in the car. I think it's okay to drive to the store and back without using it. When I was growing up, we didn't have movies at the push of a button. I'm sure other people did, but my parents were either wise or cheap so I was forced to use my imagination... or sleep.
That being said, there were a couple of days when we had to get out and about and I had a migraine. The kids asked if they could watch a movie as we'd be in the car for a while. I agreed. It didn't zap all of their creativity or suck the life out of them. It wasn't horrible. It's not my preference anymore, but it's also a fun treat for them- on occasion.
So while I'm rollin' with my homies, I think we've found a new norm that includes talking WITH them, playing WITH them, LISTENING to them... kids' beano, and so much more!
Crazy how things can change in just one month.
Unplugging for the afternoon.
The Real Life Mom.