If parenting wasn’t a challenge enough already, the summer months just add even more to the plate of parents. These months can be extremely busy times for families with children. The kids are out of school, parents still have working obligations, and there are various clubs, social activities, sports, and more going on. And probably the most stressful thing about the summer months are vacations or going to see family, aka “The Dreaded Road Trip.” As a former child myself (and still a child at heart) I know that my siblings and I would drive our parents up the wall whenever we went on these trips. As you can imagine, these issues weren’t always handled in the best way by any of us. So, how can we make these road trips better? My suggestion is mindfulness.
Before we dive into the content, I would also like to note that I am not a parent. I come from a place of academic knowledge and memories of my childhood. And I know that parents often feel judged over how they parent. I do not want to add to that. My hope is that these simple tips can complement your parenting skills. With all that out of the way. Here are some things you can do with your kids to help get you all through those summer road trips.
Now, I don’t want to be too repetitious because I already wrote an article back in December about practicing mindfulness with your kids. But a basic recap about mindfulness includes the practice of being present, at the moment, without judging or reacting in uncontrolled ways. We know practicing mindfulness can be very beneficial for you and your children. Studies show that people who are more mindful are better at regulating their emotions, managing conflict, and being aware of their health and well-being.
The way this looks, when everyone is on a very emotional car ride and the frustrations are rising:
- Take a moment, breathe
- Try to resolve the situation in a calm manner
- Repeat as needed
Sometimes this will not be possible, especially early on in your practice. But if everyone is on the same page, these stressful situations can be de-escalated. With more practice, it will become easier. Please know, if you are only implementing mindfulness in stressful moments, you are not setting yourself up for success. I suggest going back to my initial article, and practice those skills for a while before you are in the car.
With mindfulness, it’s important to establish a routine while not taking yourself too seriously. Before starting your road trip, begin with a simple mindfulness exercise to get everyone on the same page. This will help by starting your trip in the right frame of mind. Remember that every day of your trip can be an opportunity to reset expectations and practice mindfulness. It is so important to be flexible in your practice.
I am a believer in not reinventing the wheel and using materials and resources that already exist. Kristi Coppa, with the Tinybeans Blog, wrote a wonderful piece with some easy activities that can be implemented with your kids in the car. I would suggest doing any of these.
In conclusion, be flexible, breathe, and remember you’re doing a great job as a parent.