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Driving While Parenting

We've all heard the phrases driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, driving while texting, etc.  We know that there are numerous laws and safety programs geared towards improving the safety of our roads.  As a driver, I am thankful for these safety standards.  However, as a parent, I have begun to recognize that there is often a distraction that is overlooked when it comes to driving: driving while parenting.


On any average day, while driving my car, I am faced with children screaming because I'm singing, the music is too loud, the music is too soft, the music isn't the right kind of music, brother's window is rolled down, brother's window is rolled up, brother stole sister's drink/toy/sock, sister is touching brother, sister is sticking her feet in brother's face, we're in Mom's car and not Dad's car, we're driving too slow, we're driving too fast, sister doesn't see any school buses, there are no trucks on the road, the police siren is too loud, we're going home, we're not going to the swimming pool, sister wants to drive that way, we turned left, we turned right...you get the point.

While all of the screaming is going on, I'm dodging objects being thrown through the car, pedestrians, bicyclists, other cars; someone has thrown a french fry in my hair; sister dropped her book; brother lost his pacifier; there's a stop light up ahead; where is the house for this new play date? 

I lecture while driving, discipline while driving, threaten to turn around, follow through on my turn arounds, feed my children breakfast/lunch/dinner while driving (probably more than I'll ever admit to doing so), try to entertain my children while driving,  play "I Spy" while driving, work on distraction techniques (Look!  A green car!!), and more.

With all of these things going on, I'm sometimes amazed to find that I've arrived at my destination in one piece and with no traffic tickets.  Now, having become a seasoned driving while parenting mom, I've learned a three very basic techniques to improve my driving safety:

1. Ignore the kids.  They're safe in their car seats.  And, if you're like me, the child safety locks for the doors and windows are already engaged, so they can't escape or fling objects onto the road like they often threaten to do.
2. Turn your music way up.  This helps to drown out the crazy in the backseat.  If it's summertime and you have your windows down with the neighboring cars glaring at you, simply carry a sign that says "Kids on Board."  Hopefully all will understand.  If they don't, simply turn down the music, roll the children's windows down, and ask them which sound they prefer.
3. Carry sugar at all times.  Now, my husband and I disagree on this technique.  But, let's face it, I'm the one who spends the majority of my time in the car with children.  The sugar is primarily for me, but if the situation gets too out of control, then, yes, I will give some to my kids.  It does quiet them down for about 5 seconds.  That's 5 seconds of sanity I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Mama's Law Learned: Until there's a system in place where we can teleport to our destinations - although I'm sure children will still find a way to cause distraction during this process, too - we will have to drive while parenting.  From one parent, I wish you safe and sane travels.

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