Ok, ok, that sounds harsh. But really, isn’t driving around with three kids ages four and under enough “fun” without adding insult to injury? And by insult, I mean “Wheels on the Bus” on repeat. It’s ok the first three times, but after that, we’re lucky we even make it to our destination.
I grew up in the late 70s and 80s when the only options we had while driving with our parents were 1) sleeping 2) talking to them 3) bickering with siblings 4) staring out the window and 5) singing along to oldies or Top 40 radio (not much else existed). My older sister typically chose sleeping and I always chose singing.
Today it seems the best way to keep the peace in the car is to go the route of “whatever keeps them calm”—which may include listening to The Wiggles, or any version of nursery rhymes. Add in tablets and personal music devices, and kids can keep relatively quiet until they request their one-hundredth snack of the trip.
But in my car, it’s like 1982 all over again—short car rides, long road trips (our most recent was 12 hours)—it doesn’t matter. My three girls don’t have electronic devices, so there’s lots of sleeping and staring out of windows, a bit of bickering and “she’s touching me”, and there is NO KIDS’ MUSIC. At home, we listen to nursery rhymes, but once we get into the car, it’s a special space.
That’s when it’s time for Mommy’s Music. You might say, “Well Cindy, if they’re listening to their own music or watching movies on iPads, then you can listen to your own music anyway!” But you know what’s happened over time taking my route? Mommy’s Music has become my kids’ favorite music. They don’t request “Five Little Monkeys.” They want to hear “Ophelia” by the Lumineers and “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn. They clap and squeal as we sing along. They don’t even know iPads work in the car (shhh, don’t tell). My oldest daughter has her own evolving playlist, and only three songs are from Frozen! I’m not the Mommy Dearest of car music—there’s no way I could deny these girls “Let it Go” (both versions, of course).
Keeping the peace with your kids in the car is a personal decision and let’s face it, all-out war at times. You do what’s best for your family. My hope before I had kids was “If I teach them to like good music, they’ll like good music!” Amazingly, it’s worked out well for me, and our car time is a big part of the reason why.
What do you do to keep the peace in the car? If you’re brave, I challenge you to start with a short trip: make a playlist of music you like or put on a fun local radio station* (they do still exist!). Take away the kids’ music and other distractions—and see what happens. It might be a little painful at first, but you know what? Good things take time, and the love of good music is a gift that keeps on giving—I speak from experience. Eventually, it will become a win-win—you get to listen to some great tunes and your kids might discover an oldie (or a newbie) song that will up their street cred on the playground.
*Columbus has some great radio stations! Our favorites are 105.7 The X (Alternative), Rewind 103.5/104.3 (“oldies”), CD 102.5 (Alternative) and 93.3 The Bus (everything).