Besides the “techno free” zones and “sitting in your house” that I described in earlier posts, drive time has come to be a meaningful talk time for our family. (See Who’s Got Their Shoes On? for more one-on-one vehicle talking tips.) In this drive time post, I just want to encourage families in general to reduce the “independent” times in the vehicle and make drive time more “community” time.
What is a techno-free zone today? I remember when we would have our nightly living room meetings with our teens and pre-teens before they went to bed at night. We only had a television on a cart in our bedroom closet that we would pull out to watch things together as a family. We had one desk top computer in the dining room—an open room between the kitchen and living room. And that was it. Period.
Techno-free zones were easy to come by for us.
It got harder as the kids got older. We eventually had to declare techno free talks—phones off, etc.
The scene was the same for our three girls and Mom and Dad—time to gather in the living room with calendars in hand, ready to go over the upcoming weeks and months to be sure we have everything down on the schedule—and to be sure that we have plenty of time set aside for each other and our family. What wasn’t the same was the addition of our future son-in-law—a sweet, amazing young man who has no need for meetings, sitting for long periods of time listening to three teenage/young adult girls and their parents gab. His response to our “calendar meeting” was hilarious as he put a pillow over his head and kept coming up periodically to ask if it was almost over!
When is the best time to solve problems? Before they start!
The same thing is true in parenting. If we can talk through issues and problems before they arise, we will be ahead of the game in parenting.
My husband always used the mantra that we should “talk about this during non-conflict times.”
That is, we shouldn’t try to solve a bunch of problems, make new rules, talk through too many things, etc., when we were in the middle of a conflict.
With the addition of another child every other year or so, we knew it was important to spend time with the older children. (We were taught by our early mentors to put as much time and energy into our first two kids as we possibly could, knowing that the “trickle down effect” of teaching would come into play.)
Note: This is another reason we have felt so strongly about not letting an eight month old, eighteen month old, or twenty-eight month old determine the entire family’s schedule [i.e. have a “toddler run home”]—it never felt right to let a toddler’s “wants” override a teen’s needs. Anyway, because of the advice we received to invest significantly in our older kids for the “trickle down effect” (which majorly works, I might add), we always looked for ways to spend more time with Joshua (now 29) and Kayla (now 26). One of the ways I did this was to implement “Terrific Tuesday” or “Wonderful Wednesday.”