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Encouragement Article

Road Trip

It is a full family trip. Doors are locked, chickens and cat have been checked. Bladders have been emptied (at least for the next 14.5 mins). The bags are packed, the snack bag is full, DVD players are charged, and the van is filled to the top with go juice. You and your family are about to hit the open road!

We were driving from our house to a bigger city close to us. We were taking a trip to Bass Pro Shops to spend some time as a family, get some gear, look at the fish tank and get some grub.

My oldest son said from his seat, “ Dad, I love it when we do a full family trip.” It became our family mantra from then on.

I thought it was very special what it meant for us all to be together in his little 5 year old mind. It was just a small trip but it showed what my wife and I were creating when we highlighted time together.

I am a firm believer in creating a family environment that breeds togetherness. A family that prays together, stays together is one adage on the world wide web. It doesn’t have to be specifically prayer of course.

Families should attempt to create reasons to complete activities as a unit. Parents must take the responsibility of tailoring the activities based on their kids, maintaining a good attitude and guidance as the activity moves on. That way everyone participates and enjoys it.

You don’t have to create a pre-school in your home, but as life’s pace increases, activities outside the homes multiply, so should the creation of time that your family spends with each other. I challenge myself and all parents to make this an ever evolving goal for our families.

A road trip is an excellent way to get some place that you want to go, but on the way it is an opportunity for your family to create memories. You are all in the vehicle, headed in the same vector, attempting to arrive at a set destination. Make use of it for the better!

We have found road trips to many a destination, have strengthened our family bond. We built memories on the way, and aided in the enjoyment of the overall trip no matter where we were going.

My wife and I have talked about the importance of having our system built to improve the outcome. Let me expand. Early on in our parenting experience, we had expectations that what we wanted to occur would happen, and everything would go just fine. I got frustrated when kid challenges altered my preconceived notions of the trip and it reduced the flow of the time spent together.

We formed the understanding that we as parents cannot expect our children to NOT ACT like children. If we as parents are not setting them up for success, whose fault is it when the proverbial fecal matter hits the electrical powered spinning appliance? Through repeated trial and error I have found that if it is to be, it is up to me (and my wonderful wife) to improve the process.

So from my wife to you, as we are wont to do on this site, here are some quick hits on making road trips fun for your kids, and less hair deleting for us parental units.

It can be a positive time for screen time.

Let the kids pick what movie they get to watch, very important to have choices and control in their sphere of childom. Alternate tablet with DVD if you have the pieces of the equation. Use the gear for incentive of proper behavior on the trip.

Set timers and have breaks built in, but this is a fun time that kids can enjoy technology, and a wondrous silence can be present in the car.

Pack a solid snack bag!

Few things in the world increase a kid's sass factor faster than an empty tummy. Depending on your family diet, your kids likes and dislikes, pack a big ole bag with easy to dispense and munch items. We put individual bowls in the bag, and intermittently dispense snackies to support our trip enjoyment. Snacking kids are usually not raising a ruckus, and it gives them something to literally and figuratively chew on for a bit. As any parent will know intimately, limit the salty stuffs, that way drinkables are not as in heavier demand. Moderate drinkables in any form that way the stops for local foliage watering are minimized! We brought a portable kids seat on earlier trips for our little kids just in case. Nobody wants pee in the car.

Find the fun.

Reduce the stress of road tripping by assisting fun to occur. If you have been in the car for a bit, pop out and check out America’s largest ball of yarn. Who knows you might find something cool and unique in our American highways and byways.

Have games ready. These can be games the whole family plays. Good ole eye spy, license plate games, scavenger hunts are good ones to play over the course of the trip. Family stories, engaging in favorite memories, what everyone is excited for, or a favorite part of the trip may be good family conversation supporters.

Make stops an experience with certain restaurants, rest stops with open space to run around and release the proverbial and literal wiggles. Check out national parks or city parks to stop, enjoy the weather, and take in a road picnic. To the best of your ability parents, attempt to reduce the hurry, expect the unexpected. Do your best to roll with the punches as they are assuredly to come in the form of your children’s bodily fluid at some point.

Prep the logistics.

Tires-jack-tie iron, maps, chargers, first aid kit, proper clothes, emergency plans.

In the words of my Marine leadership “ Check your gear devil dawgs”. A big ole flat tire can put the brakes on your road trip really quickly. Do you know where your jack is? Do you have Triple A? Decent phone service? A US Map Atlas? The spare tire? Is it filled? Do you know how to operate said equipment?

Preparation is important and it will save your bacon on the side of the road at 4 A.M in the rain on the way to a family wedding!

Have a road kit that stays in your vehicle or is placed prior to road trips. Pack it with the possibles you will need if something goes awry. Flash lights, extra clothes, blankets, emergency grub. I don’t call it being paranoid, I consider it being prepared!

Be Zen parents.

Maintain a level of chill that theologian monks could appreciate. My wife and I do our best to recite our Mom and Dad mantra before each trip, “ The goal is to get there, we are going to have fun, we are not in a rush.”

I am not known to be a patient person, but I do my best to set my mindset prior to the start of a road trip extravaganza. I attempt to change my goals from mission completion to mission enjoyment. If we need a break, we take one. Kid needs to pee, we all pee. Kids are doing pretty good on the trip, get a treat to reward them.

I have found in parenting kids will usually follow suit as we do. If we are harried, stressed and wigging out; how can we expect our kids to stay chill in a long trek across Merica.

Plan ahead, reduce the rush. Nothing worse than missing gear, being late, getting stuck in traffic or having a breakdown.

Even if stuff happens, do your best to roll with it. Keep a calm attitude and appreciate the fun, zany, unique things that can occur when your family is stuffed into a 200 sq foot receptacle hurtling down a road way.

Take time to be with your family. Come up with some short trips, maybe a long one or two in the coming year. Get out there and experience our great nation with a destination in mind. Do it as a family, have fun along the way. Do it with a Buddhist monk’s inner peace. Take a “full family trip” gents, be safe out there.

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