This week, many a parent will be trapped in the inevitable Thanksgiving traffic -- and trapped in a car with hyper children. So how to preserve everyone's sanity, at least to some extent?
One thing that sometimes works with my boys, ages 11 and 9, is to remind them to keep what's happening to them in perspective. Yes, they may be in a non-moving car, but they're not in a crumpled car that's been in an accident. They're also not the poor sap trying to change a tire or cool an overheated engine on the side of the road.
Our portable DVD player is also, I must say, one of the best investments we've ever made.
Over this past weekend, I asked my parent friends what they do to survive. Here are some of their tips:
Mike, Virginia: "When they get to be about 14, when they begin to show an interest in driving, that's when you start showing them the elements of driving that they've never considered. Why you check your mirrors constantly. How to turn and stay in the correct lane. That kind of thing."
Carol, Michigan: "We play 'I spy' and the 'slug bug game'. We don't punch each other when we see a VW bug, just a tap. Twenty questions is a good game when we go out West."
Kristen, Virginia (and my fellow mytidewatermoms community editor): "We often turn to 'I spy' in situations where we have to wait unexpectedly. Of course, I would steer them away from looking at the accident to select 'spy' items, but everything else would be fair game. Another game we play when waiting is guessing what time we'll finally move/or something that we're waiting for will happen. We place bets and I offer a prize like candy for the winner. It makes it fun to watch the clock. I'm generous and allow them to change their bet too if their time passes by. There's also the alphabet game -- one person starts by spotting 'A' and then the next has to find 'B' and so on."
Christina, Maryland: "License plate searches. Not just states, although we have a running list of those, but also choosing a word and trying to find the letters to spell it on license plates."
Kim, Virginia: "BOTH of my kids LOVE to hear stories about when they were little. Cute things they did, scary moments, first words, funny mispronounced words. Lots of stuff they can't remember. It's not that I wait 'til moments like these to tell these stories, they just come up in the wait. They always have questions (like they have just heard the story for the first time) so I never have to worry about telling the same story twice (or more) ....they love to hear them all again and again."
Lisa, Delaware: "I keep a tub of coloring books, seek-and-find, etc and some pencils and crayons in the car for long trips. We also have sing alongs with the music on my iPod."
Amy, Virginia: "Handheld video games such as Gameboy or Ipods work for us."
Martha, South Carolina: "Bring lots of non-perishable snacks and water. Hungry kids will be a whole lot less cranky. We've also brought a small wrapped gift for my daughter to open when we're starting to go nuts -- usually a little toy she can play with."
Jenny, Virginia: "We play a game where we take the letters on license plates around us and try to think of funny expressions. So 'EMD' is 'Eat More Donuts' for example. We also listen to books on tape and take turns picking songs from my iPod."
Marc, Connecticut: "Bring a flat surface so they can draw and play on it. My wife had the idea of bringing a big cookie sheet which you can build Legos on and also stick on magnets."
Jennifer, Illinois/Virginia: "Play the license plate game with a twist: When you see a state other than Virginia, see if they can guess that state's capital. If not, you tell them what it is and something you know about that state..."
I'm stealing some of these ideas for my car!
Happy Turkey Day... here's hoping many of us will be thankful for smooth trips.