Doors slam. The key turns. The engine starts. The car pulls out of the garage. Mom’s taxi service is back in business.
When school and activities start again in the fall, we spend many hours in the car. Whether it’s driving the school carpool or taking a child to practice, I spend a lot of time with my kids in the car. And, unfortunately, much of that time is wasted.
I listen to the radio. My older daughter plays on her phone. My younger daughter looks out the window.
When one of the girls does talk to me, too often, it seems like an annoyance rather than a gift. Yes, a gift. Those moments in the car, especially those moments when I only have one child in the car with me are a gift. They are precious, and they shouldn’t be wasted.
When we look at time in the car with our kids as a gift, rather than just another trip to the store, school, practice or church, we will find better ways to use that time. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 tells us exactly what to do with our car time: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
See those words, “walk along the road?” That’s our car time. The Israelites walked everywhere. God is telling them that that is a perfect time to talk with our kids about the important stuff. It’s a great time to impress upon your kids how God is an important part of their lives.
So, make the most of your car time with your kids this school year. Try a few of these tips to get you started:
Stay off the phone. It’s tempting to take those few minutes in the car to make a phone call that’s been waiting for you. Resist the temptation. If you’re picking your kids up from school or an activity and you’re still on a work call, try to finish up before you get them. Give your kids your attention in the car.
Turn off the radio. When one of your kids wants to talk in the car, turn the radio off. That one, simple act lets your son or daughter know that he or she has your attention.
Have a plan for car time. Keep a list of topics or conversation starter questions on a notecard in your car. Attach it to your visor. When you have time with your kids in the car and nothing to talk about, choose one of the topics from your notecard. You can get a printable one to start you off here.
Listen. When your child begins to talk with you in the car, listen to what they are saying. Don’t tune them out or listen with half an ear. Kids will often bring up the things that are bothering them in the car because they can do it without looking you in the eye.
Pray. When you’re in the car together and a topic of concern comes up, take the time to pray with your kids right then and there. Keep your eyes on the road, but engage in prayer with your kids.
Be silly. If no one has anything to talk about, engage your kids in other ways. Play word games or I spy games. Sing along to the radio. Enjoy the moment.
Remember, that time with your kids in the car is a gift. If we view it that way, then we’ll be more likely to make good use of it. So, as the school year gears up, make the most of your car time.
Kelly Ross is the winner of our $10 Walmart gift card. Congratulations, Kelly!