Kids in foster care spend a whole lot of time in cars being driven from one place to another. They are driven from foster homes to visits with their parents, therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, social workers, tutors, dentists, physical therapy, court appointments, etc. You may be tempted to use the county-provided transportation. But think about the beautiful opportunity all that time in the car together presents.
1) Talk Time
Car time is an excellent time to connect and chat, especially for those kids who have a hard time making eye contact. The kids don’t need to look at you when speaking, so it may feel safer to engage.
2) Talk Time – Part 2
Kids often bottle up their emotions at school or at appointments. They are bursting to let it out. If you are present, waiting in the car to pick them up, they will often spill the beans about what’s going on in their lives and how they feel about it. Wait until several hours later and the feelings are not as strong/buried/have been vented otherwise. Be there when they are primed to talk.
3) Sing It With Me Baby
Going to see your parents or the doctor can be stressful. You can help your kids deal with the stress by singing loudly in the car. Singing is actually a form of aerobic exercise. The extra oxygen will help flush the stress hormones out of your children’s system. And it is just plain ol’ fun.
4) Practice Time
You can use that car time to work with your kids on home work or life skills. Practice the multiplication tables, talk to them about what they are reading to help them fully understand the plot, or quiz kiddos on upcoming tests. You can also play a “what if” game that helps develop life skills. (Pose silly or not so silly questions to each other. Example – What if a herd of donkeys attacked you? Discuss ways to stay safe, ways to handle conflict, reasons why such a thing may have happened, etc.)
5) Soothing Riled Up Emotions
Big feelings can erupt after visits with parents, such as memories, fears about the future, feelings of abandonment, etc. Similarly, kiddos can feel like doctor visits are a loss of control over their bodies. Simply be there to comfort them.
Think of all you’d be missing out on and all your kids would be missing out on if some stranger is driving. So let’s stop thinking of driving our kids as a waste of our time and start thinking of it as a wonderful opportunity to draw closer to our children.
For a former foster kid’s thoughts on how horrible being driven by stranger was, check out I Was A Foster Kid’s post Foster kids don’t belong in f*ing glorified taxis.