Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Preventing Road-Trip Rage

If you have small children and have attempted to journey any farther than a couple hours in your vehicle, you know the definition of road trip rage.

When will we be there?

Stop looking at me!

Mooooom, she's on my half!

How much longer?

The DVD player's dead!

He's not sharing the markers!

Are we there yet?

Moooooom, he keeps breathing on me!

You try counting... 1 -2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6- 7- 8 - 9 - 10... But all that does is give you more time to think about what to say as you lecture/yell/scowl/threaten the little beings in the back seat (or in my case, back seats).

A couple years ago, we tried something that has forever changed how we approach road trips. (Which is good, because we can't afford to fly seven people next door, let alone anywhere fun. Which means road trips are likely to be our means of transportation for a long, long time.)

We began our road trip by handing each child a roll of quarters in a Ziploc baggie. They were informed that they each had $10 in their hands, and it was theirs to use for buying a souvenir once we reached our destination. They were also informed that we would "match" their $10, ultimately giving each kid $20 for a keepsake (because we all now how far ten bucks goes at Disneyland).

However, they were warned that their souvenir fund would be reduced, one quarter at a time, for bad behavior. I listed some example behaviors that they'd have to pay me for: whining, arguing, disobedience, asking the same question every 10 minutes, etc. For any behavior that was out-of-line, they'd have to pay Mom. With the exception of being unkind to a sibling - then they'd have to pay that sibling.

Within the first hour or two on the road, each kid had probably lost a dollar. But for some of them, that was all they lost.

As I collected more money, I also began discreetly paying out quarters. If I saw kind, unselfish behavior toward a sibling, I slipped a coin into that child's Ziploc baggie.

When we arrived at our destination, one child was able to purchase a memento that cost $20. Another child had to search high and low to find a trinket that cost about $9. The child with $9 whined about the unfairness of it all, until I collected another quarter AND took back one of mine, leaving only $8.50.

Can you believe that a Mini Mouse on a key chain (two inches tall) cost over $8?!

If you don't want to rage while you're on a road trip, try it out! You'll be surprised how easy it is to keep your cool (even when the kids aren't). And if the kids are particularly bratty, that's more money back in your purse. It's win-win.

Want to find other handy tips? Visit Works-for-me Wednesday.


  1. Love, love, love this idea! I love that it's tangible enough for younger ones and that you are also rewarding kindness that you see and that they have to pay the sibling they were unkind to. I am totally using this idea the next time we go on a road trip. Thank you so much. I have the feeling that our next long van ride will be much more peaceful thanks to you!

  2. That is such a fabulous idea... something I will definitely have to try on our next outing.

  3. If you try it out this summer, girls, let me know how it works for your family!


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