With the Labor Day holiday behind us, we start looking forward to the arriving Fall and the change in activities that brings for many of us. Students young or old return to school, organizations and businesses that have scaled back for the summer months are now gearing back for full days again, and the mornings are beginning to have more than a little chill to them.
Growing up I can’t remember a time when my Mother wasn’t going, always going. She drove us to the skating rink, the ski hill, the footballs games, bastketball games, friend’s houses, movie theater, and anywhere else it was too far to ride our bikes to go. Mom always found a way to make the ride interactive. Normally it was singing along with the radio or playing one of any number of riding in the car games such as alphabet signs, license plate geography, name that tune and so many more. There are many fond memories of car rides.
Car rides are a great time for one-on-one connection! Whether it’s your spouse, children, parents, or a friend, use the time in the car to deepen your relationship. When our daughter was growing up the car was the perfect place to play the “what if” game. The “what if” game was our way of hopefully preparing her for situations when we wouldn’t be there to protect her. It must have helped somewhere because she’s good in a pinch and can hold her own in an emergency. It may take effort to come up with scenarios to talk about with your child, but it really isn’t that difficult.
Of course there are the obvious situations. First, the “what if” needs to be age appropriate. If you child is young – start with the basics, don’t talk to strangers, don’t take gifts from people you don’t know, how do you share, etc. If you’ve got a pre-teen, the questions need to dig deeper. The whole point is to get your child to think – and express their thoughts to you. The interaction can make for a much stronger parent/child relationship – and may just help give your child tools to work with when you aren’t around.
Don’t forget to use this time wisely with adults in your life as well. Some great conversation starters to learn more about someone are the “dreaming” questions. Things like: If you could eat at any restaurant in the world, where would it be? What would you eat? If you could design the perfect (insert whatever here), what would it be? If money was no object what would you want for a house? If you could spend a week anywhere you wanted where would it be? Interact with each other in the car or truck. Talk about dreams and schemes. It’s not only fun, but you’ll find it helps to deepen that feeling of togetherness and bonding.
This week is also a good week to set the family schedule. Just as counselors recommend that couples schedule and conduct “date nights” to help keep the relationship strong, the family needs the same type of attention. Schedule a game night or family night. Set aside the time for a family dinner followed by an interactive family activity. Take a bike ride together. Dust off the board games and play a game together. Get a deck of cards and play a game of cards. Whatever the activity make sure it involves everyone. (By the way…game night, like date night, needs to have rules: no telephone calls during game night; no getting out of game night because homework isn’t done – they can get up early in the morning and finish it; parents need to be as diligent. But before the family calendar becomes nearly unreadable from all the entries – fill up a night a week to dedicate to … being a family together.