Teenagers

5 Ways to Connect with Your Kids in the Car

Our family is so busy with school, work, sports, activities and social gatherings that we are always on the go! As a matter of fact, some days I feel like I am in my car more than any other place! With that said, most of the quality time I spend with my kids is in the car. Especially as they get older and appreciate their privacy and down time at home, the car ride seems to be the only place that I can take advantage of connecting with them.

But, if your kids are like mine, as soon as they get into the car, they pull out their phones and start looking at Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, and you’ve lost them to the world of social media. Asking questions like, ‘How was your day?’ and ‘How was school?’ only gets answers such as ‘Fine’ and ‘Good’. I don’t know about you but this is not what I call engaging conversation!

 

Teenager

teenager

I have found that I need to get creative to urge them to hold a conversation with me. It may seem sneaky, but the car seems to the best place to do it. I mean, we have to be in the car together anyway, and where else can you get their undivided attention? It’s not like they can leave!

  • Spyder 728x90

5 Ways to Connect

  1. Ask them questions – I know. This is an obvious one, but it’s a little complicated, especially as your kids get older. Asking yes/no questions is the quickest way to either end the conversation or sound like an interrogation asking question after question after question (you get the point.) The best way to spark a conversation with them is to ask OPEN-ENDED questions. It’s kind of like interviewing someone. You can’t get any insight if you don’t ask questions that warrant a thoughtful answer.  Not sure that open-ended questions you should ask? Here are a few to get you started:
    • What did you do today?
    • Who did you hang out with/play with?
    • What was the best part of your day so far today?
    • What did you work on in math class?
    • What things did you and your friends talk about today?
    • Keep in mind that the follow up questions to these answers should be open-ended as well!
  2. Let them play their music – Music is an amazing way for children of all ages to express themselves. Their taste in music is as unique as they are as people! We usually give our kids an opportunity to play music that they have downloaded on their phones as a way to give them some control in the car. Because it’s up to them to find the song they want to listen to, it gives me insight to how they are potentially feeling in the moment. That will usually either spark a conversation or gives me an opportunity to connect with them on something they like.
  3. Take them for a treat of their choosing – At my kids ages, their favorite quick treat is either at Jamba Juice or Starbucks.  It may be ice cream or cookies for your kids. But ask them where they want to go, and take time to actually sit with them and enjoy the treat, if you have time. It’s amazing when you sit with a Jamba Juice across the table from your teenager, and it’s only you and him, what he is willing to talk about! There are times when I purposefully plan appointments with time in between so we HAVE to sit and ‘waste time’ while we wait for the next appointment.
  4. Talk about what your doing – As mom’s we put our kids first, as we should, but have a tendency to forget that we are people too! Especially as your kids get older, they like to feel that they are having a conversation with you, not that just we are drilling them with questions. I find that when I talk to my kids about how the blog is going, or how dance class was, or something that happened to me during the day, they are truly interested in what I am saying and are more willing to respond with something about themselves.
  5. Play a game – There are many car games that you can play, depending on your kids ages. The idea of the game is getting them talking  and engaging in conversation. You may not uncover any major information, but the casual, fun atmosphere will help your kids open up. When our kids were younger, our go-to games were ‘Eye Spy’ and the ‘Alphabet Bulletin Board’. We still do the alphabet bulletin board on long car rides, but our new game is ‘Name that Tune’. Whoever is sitting in the front passenger seat has to cover the name and artist of a song and we try to be the first to guess right.

Being able to connect with our kids and stay informed on what is going on in their lives is important to me. The older our children get, the more I realize that I have to find new ways to accomplish this. As our kids begin to creep closer and closer to 16, I get worried about not having their undivided attention in the car. Pretty soon I’m going to have to find a new creative way to connect with my kids!

What do you do to connect with your kids? I love to hear your suggestions!

playing sports

How to choose what sports and activities your kids should participate in

Making sure that our kids are active is important to us as a family.  One of the lessons that I have learned through the years is that we should support our kids to be active in what interests them.  Whether that is a ‘main’ stream sport, or an activity that is less common, it’s important that they are able to participate in what makes them happy.

Young children do not know what they are interested in unless you give them the opportunity to try it.  Sometimes, as parents, we tend to lean towards the main stream sports and activities, like soccer, baseball/softball, and basketball.   Or we tend to enroll our kids in activities that we used to participate in because we figure that if we loved it, our kids will too.  While some times this is the case, other times it’s not. It’s important for us to get out of our comfort zone and expose our children to more than just those activities that we are familiar with.

Lessons Learned

My kids do some ‘typical’ sports.  They both play soccer for the local competitive soccer club; my older son actually plays year round, with indoor and outdoor soccer.  They have also participated in basketball, baseball, judo, swimming, golf, bowling, and surfing, just to name a few.  We have given them instruments to play like the piano and guitar and offered to enroll them in lessons.  Some of these activities they enjoyed for a period of time, and some they instantly disliked, while others they like and still participate in.  The exposure to the various activities is an important part of the process of deciding what they truly liked.

Less Common Activities my Kids Love

Karate – At a fairly young age, my son, who is now 13, began expressing an interest in karate.  I knew nothing about karate, but decided that I would look into options in our area.  While it was completely foreign to me as I conducted my research, I found a dojo near our house that we tried. Today he is a brown belt, about 6 months away from earning his first level junior black belt!  Over the years, I have had to educate myself on the art of karate, and still look to my son to help me do that.

 

Hip Hop – It never occurred to me that my 7 year old son would be interested in dancing.  I was not even watching for that to be an opportunity for him.  It took my cousin to point out to me that he had some raw talent that should be focused on; and she isn’t even a dancer! It was that comment that opened my eyes to more possibilities for my kids.  Almost 5 years later, he is till dancing and is noted as being one of the most talented kids in the group.

As they grow…

As our kids get older, they will decide what they like and what they don’t like.  They may also be willing to try some additional sports when they get to junior high and high school.  Personally, we are trying to get our boys to participate in other sports that are not necessarily typical like golf, swimming, wrestling, water polo or tennis.  Not only do we hope that they might enjoy them, but there are also more opportunities for college scholarships because fewer people play them!

What are your thoughts on sports and activities for your kids?  Comment below….

 

When your kids are proud of you…

As parents, we know that our kids are always trying to impress us.  From the toddler ‘watch me mommy’ stage, to elementary school plays and teenage sports, to our grown children making ‘adult’ decisions.  Our kids want us to be proud of them in everything they do.  They look to us for that reassurance, even as adults.

But if we look at this from the other side, shouldn’t it be just as important to us that our kids are proud of us?  As moms, we should approach activities, like our young children approach showing us the new cartwheel that they learned.  How can we make our children proud of us?



The Proud Moments that Mattered

I find that my kids are proud of me when I try something new, whether or not I succeed.  The feeling of knowing that they are proud of me is amazing.  For example, when I started Hip Hop dancing a few years ago, I thought my kids would be embarrassed that I was trying something that ‘younger people’ should be doing.  The opposite was true.  They are my biggest fans, encouraging me to try again, or to go to the next class.

proud kids

After starting this blog, I overheard my younger son telling his friends, ‘Do you know my mom has a blog?  It’s called The Mommy on the Move.’  He is so proud of me for starting something new, and in the technology area that he loves so much.  He is so concerned with getting the name out, he could be my marketing department!

proud kids

A few years ago, I decided to run a 5k.  Let me state for the record that I AM NOT A RUNNER, I don’t even like running.  I am not sure what possessed me to commit to a 5k, but once I did, I had to work for it.  I started training about a month and a half before the event and either ran or conditioned almost every day.  My kids watched as I focused on this goal, even though I was doing something that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  On the day of the 5k, they were there with my husband cheering me on.  The pride on their faces that day is something I will always remember.

Take a Leap of Faith

As moms, we tend to not want to try something new or feel that we don’t have the time it takes to dedicate to something.  Our thought is, ‘we had our time, it’s my kids’ time now.’  I am here to tell you that you can do it!  It will do more for your children’s resolve, esteem and drive to see you dedicate yourself to something.  So take that leap of faith and try something new!  Is there something that you have always wanted to try but never did?  Is there an interest that your kids have that you would like to try?  If so, GO FOR IT!  Your relationship with your kids will be strengthened as a result.

 

 

My crazy life and why I started this Mom Blog!

How is that 2 children need to be to 10 different activities in 1 week? And rest on the weekend? Forget it! There are at least 3 activities over the weekend!

And that just where the kids need to be; that does not take into account what my husband or I need to do! Some days I feel like Super Woman and get it all done with grace, and still have time to make dinner (MOM WIN!).  Other days I feel like the chaos is going to swallow me whole, which would actually be a relief! But the bottom line is, I wouldn’t change a thing!

As new parents, my husband and I wanted our kids to be involved in sports and activities at a young age for a few reasons:

  • Build social skills
  • Learn responsibility
  • Learn how to be a team player
  • Keep them off the TV and electronics

Eventually, we figured that as they got older, their commitment to being successful in sports and activities would discourage them from participating in activities that would negatively impact their lives.

Instilling this thought process at a young age has guided my children into wanting to be active.  While they certainly enjoy their down time, they thrive on the stimulation that their sports and activities provide.  Their Sports/Activities include: Karate year round (2 times a week), 2 soccer teams that play year round (6 or more times a week), dance year round (2 times a week), church youth group, and that doesn’t include any additional activities like math competitions, seasonal school sports, or just hanging out with friends!

What activities are your kids into?  How often are you ‘The Mommy on the Move’?  I’d love to hear from you!