Seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:14b NASB
I am on a continual mission of peace. Step foot into my house and stay an hour and you would see why. My boys. Oh, those boys. Fight – fight – fight. It is no surprise to say that the thought of traveling long distance in the van is one of my biggest stress points. There have been trips in years past that I would sit, on the brink of tears, and think “I would rather be strapped on top of the van with our luggage.” I am also ashamed to say that I have rolled down the window and let out a big AHHHH! a time or two. Just being honest. The stress gets thick. Boys get whiny. DVD players break. Someone drops their snack. Then they want another snack. Someone is hot. Someone is cold. One boy has to pee. Thirty minutes later another has to poop. And on and on and on.
Well, Glory to God, I have very exciting news. If you feel the same way about traveling – there is healing and peace for you. In Sanity in the Summertime, Claudia Arp writes from experience all of her tools and tricks to traveling triumphantly.
So…committed to trying the principles and ideas taught, I gave it a whirl.
Summertime Sanity #9 -Traveling Made Triumphant
My biggest goal for this summer is to create deeper connections with every person in my family. And you know Quality Time is my biggest love language. Well, traveling is a great opportunity for me fill my tank. Non-stop togetherness in a confined, tiny space. Honestly, I have always viewed traveling as “What can I do to make this go by as fast as possible, keep them occupied and make them leave me alone.” I don’t want to feel this way.
This past weekend we took a road trip to see family across the state. I am so thankful the Lord challenged me to see these six, often dreaded, hours as an opportunity to capitalize on time with my family. To engage them. Create unity. And purse peace.
Arp writes that her family’s traveling motto is, “Better to spend long days in the car than lonely days at home.” She says that “traveling by car with three children can be fun. Hectic yes, and sometimes exasperating – but still fun.” She says the “key to traveling sanity is planning.”
So first I made a list, in thirty minute increments of our day. The day didn’t stay on track, but it was a great blue print for me.
The boys, of course, got to load their take along bags with the little toys, a book and a favorite snack of their own choice.
An hour into the trip, I introduced my “Mommy Bag” to the boys. Oh this went over so well! Arp suggests putting together a bag of “unexpected surprises. This adds an air of expectation for your day.” She encourages readers to “designate special times in the day when travelers begin to feel grumpy and weary of sitting for the ceremony of treasures.” She suggests activity oriented gifts are best as they give them something to do.
Here is my Mommy Bag. A little party in a bag. 🙂
The day before the trip I went to K.A.R.M. (a local thrift store) and searched out little treasures. And did I ever find them! For Grant I bought two BrainQuest flip books, a chapter book, and a star wars activity book. For Ethan I found an unopened Happy Meal toy, an ISpy book and the soundtrack to the movie Cars (my favorite find!). For Little Luke I found a Thomas board book, a little slinky and little tykes fire truck. I spent, maybe, seven dollars total.
How funny is this kid?
Arp gives suggestions for family traveling games, as well. We had the best time with all of these! Here are the ones we chose…
Family Traveling Games
Elf Hide-and-seek (ages three and up) The first player says, “I’m an elf, only three inches tall. Where am I hiding?” The boys then had to guess where someone three inches tall could hid in our van. In the food bag? In the cooler? Under the baby blanket? In daddy’s ear? They loved this!
Name that tune (ages three and up) – We took turns humming a melody. Ethan was hilarious. He would make up his own tune and try to trick us!
Silly Stories – Each player tells one line of a story. I would always start it by saying, “Once upon a time there was a…” These were very entertaining. Belly laugh funny. Example, “Once upon a time, there was a lion eating a carrot in a zoo. Then he burped. It was so loud it shook the earth. And turned it upside down. Then we all fell into space.” Nice.
Macaroni – (ages four and up) Think of something you like to do, like swimming. The other players have to guess it. They ask questions, and because they don’t know your word they have to use the word “macaroni.” For example, “Do you macaroni outside? Yes. Do you macaroni with other people? Yes. Do you macaroni with a ball and bat? Yes. Is it play baseball? Yes! So fun.
Quaker Meeting (three and up) basically the quiet game. Nobody talks or giggles or makes a sound. The first to do so loses. I would often begin A Quaker Meeting when the volume escalated. 🙂
Alphabet trip – Once player begins the game by saying something like “Allison took at trip to Africa. She brought back some animals.” If my boys were only so normal. This got crazy. For example, “Lisa went to Lellowfornia and brought back a legend.” and “Uncle Brian went to the Universe and brought back a unicorn.” Those little minds.
New Name Game (this was fun) – We all decided on a new name. Each player must then be called by his new name. If a player forgets and uses a real name, you get a strike. Three strikes and you’re out. Here is a sample of a conversation. “Hey Mr. Fredericksen (Ethan) could you hand Kevin (Grant) that book? Sure, Molly (me). Hey guys, isn’t Marmaduke (Brent) doing a great job driving?!” Only Brent. This always got a good laugh.
The book has more games for older children, as well. I could have googled more, too, I’m sure.
The boys loved all the games and surprises. We laughed, a lot, and enjoyed the drive as part of our trip, verses my old approach of making it through until we get there. I am so thankful to the Lord for this time with everyone!
P.S. I would love to know of games you play with your kids while you travel! Share, share!
When the boys fell asleep and everything settled, I got a little time with the Lord, a new book, and some good, whispered conversation with Brent. Bliss. You will hear much about this book, Forgotten God, by Francis Chan.
Oh my. I am crazy about it. I highly recommend.
I just have to give a big hands up to the Lord for such an amazing trip. Of course, the visit itself was amazing with family. But in years past the travel home was such a buzz kill, I would forget how much we enjoyed our vacation. Not this time.
Not one DVD player came on. Not one Leapster chimed. Just giggles and blessing. It did take some planning. For sure. But the Lord blessed my pursuit of peace. All glory and praise to Him! Thank you Lord!