No, not the 80s southern rock band. Me!
As faithful readers know, a lot of my summer involves carting the kiddies to places they don’t want to go. You might think that would be me driving and them crying, but, frankly, I’m the one who needs the kleenex.
But if you can’t change your fate (everything is already paid for, and there’s that whole lessons in commitment thing I’m supposed to pass on to my progeny) then change your attitude. I’ve written that here before, and I originally read it in an Amy Tan book, so I certainly don’t take credit for it. But it is really good advice (you can tell by the complete roll of the eyes it inspires in the kids when I say it to them).
I know I’m not the only one who is spending a less than thrilling summer behind the wheel. (I hear the words “grumpy” and “not fun AT ALL” often when I drop someone off at, say, swim practice.) Here are a few tips for the summertime chauffeur:
1. Sunny Gs
As in Sunglasses. You need them all the time. They protect your eyes, hide the dark circles under them or the occasional red eye (drinking is preferable to pink eye for the cause, but frankly, they are equally common offenders). I get the polarized kind, which you can wear in almost any level of light because they aren’t dark but they keep down the glare. They double as a headband if you get the plastic kind instead of the cooler aviator style, which will yank a good chunk of hair out if you even think of pushing them up on your head. If you do need to put them somewhere else on your person, the only way they aren’t going into the bay/pool/toilet the next time you lean over is if you tuck them into the underwire of your bra. Also, train yourself to take them off in the car. Otherwise, they are never there when you need them. I used to think that a kleenex type box full of sunglasses was the only solution to this, but, you know, the environment.
2. Clear the cupholders
Invest in a nice travel coffee mug. They make good ceramic ones now that are dishwasher safe! Even in my house! If you must be at swim practice by 8, be there with your coffee. I recently saw a mom reading the New York Times as well. I wanted to give her a round of applause.
Being in the car all day means lots of drinks for all. Sometimes I put a bunch of water bottles in all the nooks and crannies of the car. Finding them can be a much-needed activity when you are cued up at one of those camp pickup lines that take the final 15 minutes of your sanity if there isn’t something for the littlest ones to do. You may want to reserve a cup holder for some other essentials: pens, pony tail holders, nail clippers, tweezers.
3. Music/Makes the People/Come Together
Madonna was right about that one. It also tears the people apart. And by people I mean one 9-year-old Katy Perry loving girl and one 11-year-old Judas Priest loving boy. So who controls the radio. The only thing that makes everyone equally unhappy (and therefore is fair) is playing the songs from my iTunes collection. It’s a good trick — we play them in alphabetical order by song, so you never know what you are going to get. “ABC” by the Jackson 5 is followed by the Kinks “All Day and All of the Night.” We’ve never gotten to the end of the list, but I can live with Taylor Swift’s “22” followed by “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” (Simon and Garfunkel) and a grand finale of Smashing Pumpkins “1979.”
PS – Once they have phones, like my 13-year-old, they just listen to their own music on earbuds.
4. GPS it
You think you know the way from the writing class to the tutor, but the car just wants to go to Starbucks. You need that lady telling you to turn left at the light (or how to get back to that intersection when you accidentally blow right through it). How else to dole out advice on treating breakouts and still wind up in the right place? I am still paying for that one time I accidentally went home instead of picking the girls up from Saxophone. Now every time we go anywhere they say I should pick them up early. They don’t even care that in all the pickups I’ve had to do this summer, I only forgot them once! And in their lifetimes, only twice, counting that time I only picked three kids up at school and left one behind. But that time we realized before I even got home!
5. Potty early and often
I go to 5 locations most days ferrying kids to various activities, and none of them have an easily accessible bathroom. So whenever I enter or leave my house, I go to our nice, clean, conveniently-located powder room. I don’t really want to know what real professional drivers like cabbies do, so I’m going to stick with this one.
6. Pockets of time
If you have your phone and a pen and paper with you at all times (and a phone charger of course), you really can get most things done while waiting for someone to come to the car. Pay bills, make doctors or hair appointments, plan vacations. All can be done or broken into few minute intervals. Same thing goes for a few minutes at home between car runs: I’ll let the chickens out or throw in a load of laundry or make one bed. Just don’t ever, ever think you’ll just check your Facebook or do a few quick things on The Simpsons Tapped Out or that time will be sapped away.
7. The gas light is on!
Don’t forget to fill up the tank with gas. Don’t forget to fill up the tank with gas. Don’t forget to fill up the tank with gas.