Good Ole’ Fashion Road Trips

Bonding Never Felt So Good

So I am young, I will give you that. But I am already pining for the good ole’ days in many aspects of my life. I miss Saved by the Bell, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Breakfast Club, stirrup pants worn in the early 90’s, N’ Sync, Total Request Live on MTV, and a time before 24/7 technology. Now there are smart phones, TV’s, Ipods, and cameras everywhere you look. This includes cars. Cars are now made with televisions in the back of headrests or ones that come from the ceiling. Gone are the days of “I Spy,” “The alphabet game,” “Foot dances on the windows,” “Endless story telling” and basically bonding as a family to pass the hours spent sitting. Thinking back on those times now…

they were some of the best. There was a closeness that comes from having to entertain each other, and in the end it’s a character builder. It forces you to be creative, patient, and engaged.

Thanksgiving weekend I flew to New York City to spend time with my father and two step brothers who are 2 and 5. We took a road trip outside the city and my dad put on Christmas carols to get everyone in the spirit of the holidays. That lasted two seconds before the kids were yelling to watch a movie because they were “so bored”. My dad and his wife packed a portable TV for the kids, but had not charged it. This led to more wailing, until we figured out you could plug the TV into the cigarette lighter. The next problem, once the TV was plugged into the lighter the cord was not long enough to reach the back of our rented minivan. The solution? My step-mom held the TV for two hours so that the boys could watch their movie.

I am not their mother, and therefore have no say in raising them. This did, however, wrench my heart. Instead of parenting, instead of sharing age old road trip traditions, they were a slave to the demands of toddlers. I know our situation is not unique, and it will probably continue to grow in scale as TV’s in cars becomes even more prevalent, and children become even more plugged into technology, but it’s sad. We are losing the oral tradition of road trips; we are losing the laughter, the silliness, and the closeness that comes from spending uninterrupted time together.

What do you think? Is letting kids watch movies in the car lazy parenting?

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4 Responses to “Good Ole’ Fashion Road Trips”

  1. Kristen December 7, 2010 at 1:20 am #

    Great post!!! I too grew up road-tripping with my family, blended craziness of step children and parents and all… I’ve often blogged on my own blog about our adventures growing up and the genuine organization that went into stuffing a family of 8 into a Ford Taurus Wagon. We’d draw #s for who sat where and every stop rotated 1 seat to the left to keep things interesting. No one ever always had the middle seat, no one always got stuck facing the back with their legs crunched in their face because the cooler was in the floor of the rear flip up seat. Mom always had the snack bag at her feet and we had our book bags at the ready for family road games. You get the idea.

    And now I am married with 2 young children ages 3.5 and 18 months. I never plan to have a blended family of 7 kids, however, my husband (who happen to grow up in the total opposite of mine Leave it to Beaver kinda family!) and I do still thoroughly enjoy a good road trip, tots and all. Our boys are extremely well-traveled for their ages in the air and in the car. His family had a saying… hitch, hook, and go! And that’s basically how we run these days. Both boys had their first flight at 7 and 9 weeks old and have both since earned their own free flights because of frequent flier miles. Why? Because we know how awesome it is to share the joys of traveling with our sons. The places they’ve seen and been over their short years have enriched their lives and I know despite their minds being young they do in fact remember many of the places we’ve traveled.

    At this point I can pack our bags based on our destination, time of year and length of stay with my eyes closed. They know when we get to the airport to take their shoes off! :) And they also know that car time is fun because we’re doing it together. Besides, they sleep a great portion of the trip!

    BUT… there’s 1 thing that has NEVER been on our packing list and my husband and I have vowed that it wouldn’t make it on no matter how technological we may become. The DVD player stays home!!!! Our boys have been from CT to Williamsburg, VA with no movies, NJ to VT tv free. We’ve flown from across the country and never set them up in front of a computer screen. I pack a tub/bag of favorite toys, trinkets, books and games for thh back seat of the car or plane. Some of them they’ve seen and simply love, others are fresh and new – most likely from the Target $1 bin!! :) It doesn’t take a lot, just your time and attention! They’d rather have that then any Disney movie, any day. The Magna Doodle is a huge hit as we pass it back and forth from the front to the back and back again drawing and coloring and creating – TOGETHER!!! In fact, there’s an added element of intrigue to all of this… we do it all together despite both boys still riding Rear Facing in the car! There are still ways to engage with your children and keep their utmost of safety as well.

    Anyways, long story short. Yes, there are still some of us (thirty-somethings) out here who don’t just plop our children in front of a screen just so we can enjoy the ride. After all, what’s the point of a road trip if you’re not taking in the whole experience together as 1 big happy family?!

  2. Kelly Voelker December 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Kristen I love this comment! I used to love road trips when I was a kid and I still do now. We used to play the “license plate game” where everyone picked a letter or number and when you found yours on a license plate that drove past you got a point (no repeats!)

    Those are some of the best memories of just trying to be creative and spending (lots of) time together as a family. I even find now that when I go on a road trip with my husband it’s some of the best conversation we have because we’re not trying to rush to the next thing… and we actually really listen to one another. :)

    Thanks for sharing your stories.

  3. Kacie McKee December 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Kristen thanks for the comment. I felt I really had to write this post because I feel strongly about bonding and time spent sharing with each other in the car. My brother and I still love to laugh and retell stories of our travels. I love the Magna Doodle idea. We played a lot of Old Maid and Spades, I like to think we became experts. Thanks again!

  4. Kristen December 8, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Those are fun tooo!! Or how about the Alphabet add on game. Not sure of the real name, but it’s a great one for us since we’re teaching the ABCs to our preschooler. Ya know the one where someone says. A is for Apples. Then the next person has to say the A is for Apples and then add B is for Bananas. And the third person adds C on to the end and you can see how long you can go before someone forgets one of the letters and the word! It’s pretty funny cause usually my husband or I forget and Colbster remembers them all!!! :)

    Happy Safe Travels!!