Curing the Car Ride Blues

This post originally appeared on 5 minutes for mom.


I have diagnosed myself with sensory issues.  I’m a nurse so I like to think I’ve learned all I need to know to diagnose.  Oh, and I can search WebMD on my phone.  That helps make me an expert.  For me, sounds can sometimes cause actual pain.  I have a toddler and a preschooler and, friend, they can make some SOUNDS!

In the car, where we’re buckled in and noise is trapped, it can cause me to want to remove my ears from the sides of my head.  I think I would do it if I thought it would help.  On a recent trip that included deafening decibels, it became abundantly clear I needed to find a cure for the daily car ride blues.

Some solutions I have brainstormed:

  • Noise reducing headphones.  I would like to be able to hear other drivers and sirens if needed, so that’s right out. Not that I can usually hear anything over the screaming but there is a slim chance I could if both children took a breath at the same time.
  • Another solution would be to leave the children at home while I do my daily errands.  The only reason I don’t is that I’m a people-pleaser.  “Society” and “conventional wisdom” don’t think it’s a good idea for a kindergartner to be left in charge of a toddler while I go to Costco in peace.  So I take them with me every-cotton-picking-place I go.  So calm down, Society.

My solution: 

  • Music. I have found music in the car helps everyone calm down.

    Unfortunately, since there is more than one song in existence, there was also the constant conversation about whose turn it was to listen to their music.  I simply couldn’t keep track.  And it was an annoying conversation to have.

Putting It All Together:

So I set out to find a solution to the problem of music (which had actually been my solution to the problem of screaming)… This is getting a little involved.

Thankfully, every once in a while I have a parenting idea that works…

I sat down with the kids (and some snacks because it makes them quieter) and we worked on a playlist for the car.

It included all of their favorite songs and mine as well.

We became excited about our choices.

Then, together, we worked out the rules.

  • The music is always AND ONLY on shuffle.  That way, I’m not the bad guy, the iphone is.
  • If you complain about my song, the next one of yours is skipped.  If you complain about that, the next one of yours is skipped.  Repeat to infinity.  While I happily listen to my music.
  • A song can be replayed one time.  If you love it, you get to hear it again.  The rest of the passengers who don’t love it are not subjected to it more than twice in one sitting.  It’s the humane thing to do.
  • Parents hold to the same rules.  In parenting, modeling reigns supreme.  I actually enjoy teaching them how to embrace (or endure as the case may be) other people’s turns and preferences.  I make sure to get just as excited about Old Macdonald and the Eensy Weensy Spider as they do.  I turn it up a little louder and sing along.  Sometimes I even repeat their favorites without them asking.   Because I’m all heart, people.

And you know what?  They occasionally request a repeat playing of Jack Johnson, James Taylor, and Louis Armstrong.

Everybody wins.  Bring on the (reasonably long) road trips!