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Many of us in the Sandwich Generation are racking up major mileage on our cars, taking both young and old to a wide variety of appointments such as doctor, haircut, therapy, grocery shopping, etc. We may also be toting our crew around to gymnastics, basketball, soccer, bridge, and mall-walking. Many of these trips may combine both generations at one time. Sometimes that works well. Sometimes that works poorly. Most of the time, it’s just an extra layer of juggling. The noise level of the happy, bubbly (sometimes squabbly) younger generation can sometimes collide with the older generations’ tendency to jump at too much noise.
Granted these are generalizations but I’m sure many of you recognize yourselves in those descriptions. Is there any help to be found? I have a few suggestions.
Music soothes the savage beast and often the raucous toddler. Classical music is a great brain stimulator for all ages, something the grandparents often enjoy, and even the younger set like it. Christian praise and worship is my personal favorite, though my parents lean more towards the older hymns. My grandkids enjoy both of those so that is great. Kids’ Bible songs are fun for all ages. Many cars allow you to adjust the music to play primarily in the back and I often use that when traveling with all.
Audio stories capture the imagination of all, promote excellent language and speaking skills, and even assist in a child’s learning to read, or improving their reading. Depending on the stories, the grandparents might enjoy listening as well and may well remember reading the stories when they were children, or they might prefer to have the sound be in the back so they can quietly chat with you.
Educational CDs can be a big help for your grandkids or kids as they learn by listening to math facts set to music (we are having fun with several different multiplication sets right now). You can also purchase a set of cds called Schoolhouse Rock! These were short TV segments produced in the late 70’s through early 80’s that introduce kids to different subjects including grammar, history, and more. Conjunction Junction has been a favorite in our family for over 20 years now.
Then there is my favorite – a DVD player for the back seats. I got one a few years ago and have been so grateful for it time after time. I have a wide variety of Bible story DVDs, Christian videos (we LOVE Hermie and his friends), educational videos like Leap Frog, and more. I pop one of those in, my grandkids start learning, and peace and quiet reigns in the front for the grownups. You might even keep a couple of old movies or TV shows that your elders might remember and enjoy sharing with the younger bunch. Did you know you can buy DVDs of many of the old TV shows such as Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and Leave it To Beaver?
You can purchase a portable set with one or two screens for under $200 but research those carefully. Many of them are a bit on the delicate side. I would recommend an extended warranty and purchasing from a store you trust. If you are at a point where you are looking to purchase another vehicle, you might want to consider adding a built-in DVD player. It is more expensive but it will most likely last longer which should even out the cost. While this may seem like an unnecessary luxury, it can be a tremendous blessing to the multigenerational travelers – for both short and long trips.
Traveling together can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a bit noisy, and sometimes stressful. These ideas can all help to bring families together to learn or sing or just have fun in a relaxing atmosphere.
P.S. Many of the above items are available for free or very inexpensive fees at your local library. You might also find them used at thrift stores, used book stores, and online sites such as Amazon.com’s used options. I like to purchase them so we can use them over and over and I don’t have to worry if we get a scratch on them. Amazon.com is my favorite resource because of their great prices and fast shipping. If that’s your choice as well, click here.