Well, hey there. How’s your summer? You doing well? We’re great here — reading a bunch of stuff, hiking, going on day trips. I love long day trips. The kids are seatbelted in so they can’t pester each other. After a few minutes of complaining, they usually settle down and are actually nice to each other. And often, on the trip home, they’ll take a nap.
Here’s the challenge, though — on day trips, long road trips, and even just trips to the store — we mamas tend to pride ourselves on multitasking. We shower one kid while brushing another’s teeth and helping a third with homework. We make one-handed breakfasts while holding crying babies. We’re pretty good at doing 12 things at once. But We. Can. Not. do this while we drive. When we get behind the wheel to drive, we have to do just that one thing, and do it well, or none of the rest of it matters. Decide to drive.
And so, after years of car trips with kids I offer a few suggestions that help me when I’m driving:
-Get used to pulling over. Any time you need to help a child or baby find something (yes, Elusive Lost Binkies, I’m talking about you), pull over. Every time. Pull over somewhere safe, take your time soothing a crying child or finding the lost item, and then drive.
-Turn off your text alerts and ringer. If you’re going to be tempted to check your phone, turn it off. Put it in the back. Do something so it’s not right there distracting you.
-Teach your kids the importance of not distracting the driver. Tell them, “I can help you with that when we stop, but I’m driving now.” Make sure they know not to throw things in the car. Talk about distracting behaviors and let them know those are unacceptable.
-Distribute everything ahead of time. If you’re allowing snacks, or books, or other things, distribute it before you leave. Load up favorite CDs (we’re not the only ones who still use those…right? Right?), or other music ahead of time. Or — pull over. Again. You’re going to do it a lot…might as well get used to it.
I went running earlier this week. And while I was crossing the street, in a crosswalk with the pedestrian sign lit, I was almost run down by a guy turning left and not looking. I don’t know what was distracting him, I only know that I looked at him and he wasn’t looking at me at all. Distracted driving doesn’t just endanger people in the car — it’s a threat to everyone around.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance are joining together to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Can you come up with a catchphrase to remind people to decide to drive? They’re sponsoring a catchphrase contest — enter here, and if you’re picked, you could win a $1,000 Visa gift card and be featured in a nationwide campaign. The contest runs until Friday, June 13 — good luck!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.