Nancy Thomas talks about using some strict rules for vehicles. I've listened to her teaching tapes over and over and when I get to that part when she talks about vehicles, I always pause and think to myself, Gosh, I just don't know if I can do all of that! But I don't like to be outdone and I especially don't like to do things halfway. So I've come up with some concessions to her suggestions and I'm wondering if any of you do the same types of things? I got some of these ideas from the travel rules at the RTC and the rest as been my own trouble shooting.
The children have assigned seats in the van, they have particular doors in the van by which they are allowed to enter, they have particular orders in which they are allowed to enter and exit. Violations of these rules earn 10 pushups.
The reason is I was tired of the screaming, hitting, kicking, yelping, pounding on glass and mostly, to protect WG who was always getting the brunt of Sissy and Aspie Boy's wrath.
Here's how it goes. On the passenger side door, Sissy enters first and sits in the way back bench seat followed by AB after he closes the door (he is rewarded through our ticket system for closing the door because it always has to be him and he hates doing it) WG enters from the driver's side door and sits in the middle bench seat in front of Sissy and directly behind me. I close her door.
Exiting, AB gets out first through the passenger side door, followed by Sissy. WG gets out on the driver side door. AB and WG are responsible for door closes. If we are in a parking lot, all kids must wait on their side of the vehicle, hands to their sides until I say they can come. If we are at home, AB is the "key master" and is handed the house key before anyone else gets out of the van so he can be the first one into the house (it's THAT important to him). He is ticket rewarded for this "job" as well.
Why? Why so much effort?
Our children were never safe in the van. Not even for one mile of travel. I had to pull over so many times I couldn't go anywhere. So I didn't. And that doesn't work either. Thus, the travel rules. Has it helped? You bet your butt it has! What a HUGE difference. We still have flare ups, I still have to pull over but that happens so infrequently now, it's negligible.
Other trouble-shooting things we do:
1. MP3 player for both AB and Sissy. The reasoning is we got tired of them screaming (I don't mean being mad, I mean primal-rage screaming from the gut, full-on rage, adrenaline driven, fight or flight responses). And it would be over music. Uh? No. That's not safe. MP3 players nipped that in the butt
2. music for adults. I turn up my tunes in the front. If the children like the music, they can turn off their MP3 player and ask for me to put the music in the back. All must be in agreement. If the song is over, MP3 players go back on. WG usually likes my tunes and since she's never the one with the music issue, I often put on the stuff she likes up front.
3. Singing to the music. No. Never. Drives AB batty (again, primal-rage, kicking, etc. NOT SAFE) If the children like a particular song, they can take the CD into the house when we return home and listen to it ad nauseum in their rooms, singing as loudly as they like. Vans? No.
4. Movies. I pick 'em. Period. And only for long trips. We bought a headphone jack splitter so all three children can wear headphones to hear the movie and The Dad and I can hear our tunes or talk up front.
5. Toys. No. Never. One stuffed doll or toy for trips to doctors that make the children feel anxious - reasoning is the doll/toy is a comfort item and self-soothing. Otherwise, no. Besides, they clutter up the vehicle.
6. Food. Yes. But they are responsible to clean it up. I am a drill sergeant about it. If they have left the vehicle and not gathered their trash, i will not move, I will not pass go, i will not collect $200 until I make sure they have cleaned up. Period. And that means EVERYONE must wait for the offending person to do as asked because no one is safe without supervision.
7. Talking. Limited. AB can yammer incessantly and it drives us all insane. Plus, he demands responses. That doesn't work when I drive. "no talking, put on your MP3 player" is heard a lot in my van.
Disclaimer: I really wish our family could be loosey-goosey with these things but we've been unsafe on the road far too many times for me to not have very strict rules. The IFI team and I have reviewed them many times to tweak them and get it just right. They are fully aware of our plans and have given me a rousing thumbs-up. Would it be cool to think we could be like a "normal" family and get along in the vehicle on road trips and the like, even to the grocery store? Sure. For half a second I let that idea play out in my head and then I surrender it. There's no point. You must remember that my van is just a few feet shy of being the proverbial "Short Bus". If bus drivers of impaired persons can have assigned seats and strict rules so all riders are safe, than so can I.
So, what have YOU done to make your vehicle safe? I'm always open to new ideas!