I am this guy. And if my kids turn out just like him, I will have done my job. =)
In all seriousness though, driving with kids in the car can be a very stressful experience, and music can definitely add to the cacophony. I remember running errands one morning while my toddler and newborn were both shrieking and fighting in the back seat. A particularly heinous version of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” was playing on the stereo, and I thought “This is what hell must sound like.” I have another post about choosing quality music that appeals to everyone so you don’t drive yourself more insane than necessary, but here are a few guidelines I use with my own family to make car rides more like Carpool Karaoke!
- Take turns choosing music. Each leg of the trip, I’ll rotate between my kids. Brother chooses on the way to the store, sister chooses on the way home. Sometimes even Mom and Dad get to choose! 😉 I usually give 2-3 limited choices to help them decide.
- Ask what “mood” of music they feel like. I sometimes ask if they feel like singing, dancing, or relaxing. I always have our Music Together CD’s to sing with, and I have playlists of chill music and party music if they don’t want a specific artist.
- Try out classical music! I find that in the morning, most classical radio stations play more up-tempo pieces, so on the way to school is usually a great time to sample some art music.
- Accept that children thrive on repetition and will probably ask for the same music (and even the same song) over and over and over and over and over and over….. Though I do get tired of it, music choice is one battle that I’m willing to let my kids win. If you offer quality music choices, this can be less painful!
- Don’t change music while you’re driving. This is more safety than anything. I try to emphasize to my kids that my first job is driving the car, and I can’t switch music while the car is moving.
- If your kids are fighting and you are getting distracted, turn the music off. It is amazing how effective this can be as a consequence. There is very little I can do to manage behavior while I’m driving, but turning off the music is one thing I CAN do. Less stimulus helps me focus better, and if the kids know they need to stop fussing in order to listen to music, they are more likely to settle down. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try!
If we’re on an extended car trip we might consider using individual earbuds, especially with older kids. However, if we’re doing short jaunts around town, we all listen to the same music. I think it’s important to practice taking turns and respecting other people’s music choices. Plus, the car is one of the few times where EVERYONE in the family is captive together, and it can be a great time to reconnect with each other without being stuck to individual devices.
Good luck! Have fun! And remember: