The hazards and joys of the School Run: 8 tech-free ways to enjoy it and engage with your kids
I was outdoors recently when I was drawn over to the sound of children yelling and crying, a woman shouting, and a car door slamming. I saw a lady open the back door of her car, and reach in shouting at the children in the back of the car, with the children still crying, then I heard the slam of her door as she got in again and revved up her car, speeding away with the children-tornado still inside.
It reminded me of how close I myself often got to that situation when my children were small.
There were times when I, too, had to stop my car, and sort out the angry frustrations of my children, - but I would always get them to the point of reconciliation and mollified interactions, knowing that leaving again whilst they were still crying would just result in another stop, or worse – an accident because of the stress of driving with children in such a state. Sometimes it can be worse than road rage!
It reminded me of those days when my children were small…..
Early morning rush routines, getting ready for school, child-minder, work, juggling with lunchboxes, making sure school letters and diaries were all sorted and packed in the proper places, and that the children had breakfast, and dressed as they needed to for that day.
Multiplied by thousands for all the families in which this plays out each day.
Strapped in safely, the three little ones in the back, one on a booster seat, two in car seats, are having a fight over the one book that is different from the other books in the activity bag that is in the charge of the oldest, my five year old boy.
I fight back my need to think myself into the day’s work mode, and bring my attention fully onto the children – which it should be anyway! That would have avoided a fight in the first place. Now is retrieval mode – full negotiation skills in place, and if that fails – distraction mode – that often works much better.
I have a repertoire of games and activities that usually brings the most recalcitrant child back into sunny, safely competitive mood. Or maybe it was just the special parts of the journey to school / work that we shared, such as watching out for the grey heron that usually stood, solemn and still, by the bank of the little island in the river we crossed – and the cheer for the first child who saw it!
Here are a few of the things I drew upon to keep me sane and my children engaged in non-combative play whilst I negotiated the rush-hour traffic and traffic jams. They might even contribute to your children being better at some things at school!
I spy with my little eye
(Somebody begins with, "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'L'", and then the other kids have to try and guess what it is)
(One person says they are thinking of something/someone - and the others must find out what it is in 20 questions!)
Each person in the car counts the number of something they can see
(– e.g. red cars, truck, lamp-posts, gates, ladies, buggies, etc, the winner is the one who saw the most by the end of the trip)
Singing – each person chooses a song and group sings together, or solo competitions
Challenges & Songs
Spelling the longest words you can think of
Counting up and down
Alphabets up and down
These work well for longer trips too! Those longer journeys that are often punctuated by - “Are we there yet Mum?’
I am sure you have your favourite games and strategies that help keep car-(s)trapped little ones occupied and happy – do these, by any chance, involve tablets or phones? When my children were small, we did not have these - and yet now, I am sure many a school run has become far quieter with the advent of technology. That brings with it its own pros and cons!
What do you do in your school run to keep things afloat and smooth? Let me know in the comments!