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fairfarmhand

Church Travel Bickering--Strategies, Cures or Commiseration

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We have an 18 minute drive to church. 

EIGHTEEN MINUTES. 

Somehow my children find a way to  make it 18 minutes of torture every Sunday. We can be having a perfectly fine Sunday morning (no grouchies or rushed feelings or whatever) until we get in the car. And then the devil gets in there somehow. 

It's EIGHTEEN stinking minutes. You would think that my kids could manage to not annoy one another or be annoyed for 18 minutes. But this is way too much for my children,

They are 11, 14 and 17.

I get it. My 11 year old is at that perfect annoying little boy stage. He;s studied his sisters for years and knows exactly how to push their buttons. which he does the instant we start getting in the car.

However, my 14 yo is at that extremely irritable crabby stage. Just the breathing of the other people in the car makes her grumpy and she isn't shy about crabbing at them.

My oldest is content to listen to her music in headphones on the way, but being stuck in the car with thing 1  and thing 2 makes her edgy.

If we play music, someone wants to hum or sing or tap or whistle or whatever, which annoys someone else. I spend most of the ride trying to head off fuss fights or chastising my children for their idiocy in the car.

I do make my children stop their annoying little traits as soon as it occurs in the car. So grumpy child gets squashed as soon as she grumps, and annoying son gets squashed as soon as he starts pestering. But it's exhausting.

It's frustrating to try to prepare your heart for worship when you spend the car ride trying to keep your children from eating one another.

Ideas? Strategies? Commiseration?

I'd love a solution that doesn't involve me doling out punishments when we get home, or constantly chastising my children on the way to church.

18 minutes. That's all. 18 minutes of peace. Is this too much to ask?

 

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Warning: Unhelpful advice ahead!

Clearly, the solution is to move closer to church. Or to get rid of one (or more, I guess) children, but that seems rather extreme. Or you could send DH in one car with the kids, while you go in peace in another vehicle.

Disclaimer: Our oldest isn't quite 9, so my advice is probably off the mark. Your post, however, will make me very grateful for our 5 minute ride to church from now on!

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Tell everyone it will be a silent ride for meditation?

Give everyone tablets/phones to focus on ? 

Change seating arrangements? Maybe you sit in the back between the two that get on each other's nerves, and the music listening one sit up front? Or even better, put the annoying young one up in the front seat where there is less damage to do and they may be distracted by conversation with the driver?

Rotate who sits in front, but that may cause arguments. 

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5 minutes ago, barnwife said:

Warning: Unhelpful advice ahead!

Clearly, the solution is to move closer to church. Or to get rid of one (or more, I guess) children, but that seems rather extreme. Or you could send DH in one car with the kids, while you go in peace in another vehicle.

Disclaimer: Our oldest isn't quite 9, so my advice is probably off the mark. Your post, however, will make me very grateful for our 5 minute ride to church from now on!

We won't be moving. We do live at least 20 minutes from most things we do (my kids do actually love church, but just for whatever reason don't do well on the ride over there) so it's not like its a longer ride than what theyre used to.

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Take two cars.

Everyone in one- and you by yourself in the other.

Or mandatory headphones for all.

 

 

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Leave extra early.  Drive until you are within a reasonable walking distance of church.  Pull over and order everyone out.  They walk.  Have and enforce consequences for dawdling and arriving late.  Unless your children really like walking, you shouldn't have to do this more than once or twice.   

Otherwise, an audiobook or family sing-along?  

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I like kt's ideas. 

Give them books, or notepads, or phones, or tablets, or music w/headphones, or.....anything to occupy them. Yes, it's 18 minutes, but *something* is going on.....

Also, is there anything else different about this drive than your other 20 minute drives during the week? Are their church clothes or shoes uncomfortable? Have they eaten earlier, gotten up earlier, eaten later so the food hasn't really hit their systems yet?  Such that, would an earlier bedtime on Saturday to compensate for waking earlier help? Or an earlier breakfast (so, eat first, then dress, shower, etc.) so that blood sugar has a chance to level out by the drive time? Or, if it's so early they don't feel hungry yet, can they take breakfast burritos or protein snacks in the car instead? That will occupy them as well....

If it's the clothes/shoes, can they not put their shoes on until church, so they aren't uncomfortable on the way? 

If you're thinking it's more spiritual warfare type stuff, what about worship music at home before getting in the car? So everyone's already getting into  a worshipful mindset  from the start. Maybe worship music in the car (but you said that annoys them with the humming), or read the day's Bible passage/listen to it on audio....something along those lines. 

Otherwise, my only other idea is revert to "little kid" mode where you go over the expected behavior before getting into the car, once in the car, have them repeat it back to you, etc. Are we going to annoy one another? No. Are you going to complain when...? No. Are you going to pester....? No. Are we ready to get into the car and have a pleasant ride? Yes. Okay, great, thank you. Even switch it to ask/answer format -- How do we sit in the car? Hands to ourselves, hands in laps, stay on my side of the car.  How do we ride in the car? Quietly, no talking, no humming, no signing, no bickering.  (or whatever particular statements you need to make to curb the behaviors)

Best of luck!

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I would tell them (before you start for church) that everyone is to be KIND and LOVING towards one another....even if they don't feel like it.   Explain ahead of time that if they are unable to be kind, they will no longer be allowed to talk in the car.   And there will be silence the entire ride to church..    

Also, make sure everyone is getting enough sleep and food before church.   That helps.   🙂  

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I wouldn't be above doling out consequences in the form of manual labor after church for anyone who can't behave her or himself on the ride there. Including doing the chores of the sibling he or she chose to annoy/snap at, or some other type of service for that sibling.

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I'm guessing the toddler tool of pulling over and waiting until everyone can behave themselves isn't going to work here? 😄 I'd be sorely tempted, though.

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5 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

I'm guessing the toddler tool of pulling over and waiting until everyone can behave themselves isn't going to work here? 😄 I'd be sorely tempted, though.

I would TOTALLY do this. Every.single.time. Although there might also be some more individual, personal, one-on-one discussions outside of the car.

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How are you handling this now?

I have kids who are 11, 14, and 17. They quarrel at times but I can’t imagine having to have that conversation more than once and not having super shiny baseboards afterwards. 

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I was thinking a treat after you get home for good car behavior.  We used to just forbid talking for the rest of the trip when the bicker twins started at it.....bring books if you plan to bicker!😂. For the record our drive to church was almost 2 hours for years........

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2 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

We won't be moving. We do live at least 20 minutes from most things we do (my kids do actually love church, but just for whatever reason don't do well on the ride over there) so it's not like its a longer ride than what theyre used to.

 

How are things on the ride home?

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We do audiobooks in the car on the way to church - I save special ones that all of us can listen to with daddy along.  Works pretty well for 90% of the crabbing.

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1 hour ago, J-rap said:

Scones and coffee during the car ride?

Yep.  I was going to suggest breakfast in the car on the way.  Everyone will be busy chewing and trying to keep their food mess tidy.

For the longest time it seemed like Sunday morning was the worst hours of the week.  DH and were constantly arguing about stupid things, or the kids were at their worst.  Somewhere along the way we heard a message preached about how Sunday mornings can seem to be a prime time for the devil to try and rile people up.  I mean, if you get to church all haggard and angry, you're more likely to not be receptive to the sermon being preached or want to spend time visiting with other church goers.  Made sense to us! 

Ever since then, DH and I have pretty much put into practice that we don't communicate Sunday mornings unless we absolutely had to.  Seriously.   Unless there's something that absolutely needs to be communicated before church, we simply don't talk.  Our kids don't much either.  Sunday mornings are quiet.  We all know what time we head out the door, and we just do what needs doing and go.  On the way to church we might speculate about what worship songs will be chosen for the morning if we do have a conversation; 

We only live 3 minutes from church, so don't have a lengthy car ride to allow much time for trouble to brew.  There are still times though where we arrive at church and I'm thankful that DH and I separate and go off to completely different parts of the sanctuary and I don't have to interact with him until it's time to go home.  🙄 Nothing has taught me more about biting my tongue than Sundays. 

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II have kids roughly the same ages, plus a few extras.  My advice- I make them all put their hands on their knees and be silent.  That's step 1.  Next would be they loose free time that afternoon or other similar short term consequence.  

 

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We'd be having a silent car ride with pull-overs for infractions.

Maybe you can record their really childish behavior and then play it back for their friends at church. 🤣

 

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Do you all have to go together? Can, for example, the eldest two bike over while you just drive the the youngest? Or can somebody go with a friend to church?

I definitely agree with walking partway, although I'd park the car further from the house rather than further from church. I often had to deal with cranky, pestering-each-other kids on the bus or train but never on a walk. Walking is exercise, and a little exercise in the morning does everybody some good.

Are you waking up earlier to get to church than on other days? Maybe adjusting your schedule the rest of the week so that you wake up at "church time" every day would help, because bedtime would be consistent and everybody would get enough sleep. I'm always cranky if I have to wake early or if I have to skip my breakfast to get somewhere on time!

If listening to music is a no-go, what happens if you listen to an audiobook?

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We have about a 35-minute walk to synagogue, and mostly we play word games en route.  Some weeks it works better than others.  Usually DH and DS14 go together earlier than the rest of us, which also helps.

 

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We drive 45-min to church. My girls are 11 & 13 and they are usually both listening to their iPods on the ride over. It's silence from the backseat (which sounds lovely but can be a bit lonely!). 

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My suggestion is going to impose upon the actual church experience, but, after a couple of times, it might just solve the problem.

Just stop.  When crabbing starts, pull over.  Parking lot, Gas Station, safe side of the road, wherever.  Just stop.  Explain....we will NOT move until the whiny crabby CRAP stops.  And then pull out your phone and play on it, or pull out your bible or church bulletin and read it.  Don't proceed until everyone is quiet.  Then continue as if nothing has happened.

The first one or two times, this might actually mean missing church.  But eventually, which should be pretty quickly, the kids should figure out that sitting in a parking lot is boring, and they better figure out how to reign themselves in or they will be stuck sitting in a parking lot for quite a while.

ETA:when my oldest was in high school, before she got her license, we drove to school (She drove to get in her practice hours, but since I had to be there, it meant all small people in the car as well.)  I had babies in the car, and the time of the drive was the same.  We were the actual farthest out from the high school, and the drive was actually closer to 25 minutes, one way.  I didn't have trouble with babies or toddlers in the car, I am struggling to think of how else to deal with teens that can't handle that sort of drive.  

Edited by happysmileylady
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Anyone who behaved unpleasantly on way to church can walk home?

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Food.  Plenty of sleep.

Different seating arrangements.  

 

 

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When my kids are not making wise choices, they might be subjected to my spectacular singing ( purposely off key).  The song of choice right now is Baby Shark.  And if you do it with the windows down, the teens get the message quick.  

Any chance your DH would love to join in with the singing?  A duet a few times might be all you need. 

Edited by itsheresomewhere
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5 minutes ago, itsheresomewhere said:

When my kids are not making wise choices, they might be subjected to my spectacular singing ( purposely off key).  The song of choice right now is Baby Shark.  And if you do it with the windows down, the teens get the message quick.  

Many chance your DH would love to join in with the singing?  A duet a few times might be all you need. 

Ok, I LOVE this solution.  At this point in time my kids wouldn't get the implications without express explaination, but even now, all of my kids are like ...*SIGH*.......DAAAADDDDYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! the moment he opens his mouth to utter a word of a song lol

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10 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Ok, I LOVE this solution.  At this point in time my kids wouldn't get the implications without express explaination, but even now, all of my kids are like ...*SIGH*.......DAAAADDDDYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! the moment he opens his mouth to utter a word of a song lol

Have daddy learn the hand motions to baby shark.  So when he sings and does the hand motions, the eye rolling and sighs are spectacular.  Lol

Edited by itsheresomewhere

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25 minutes ago, itsheresomewhere said:

When my kids are not making wise choices, they might be subjected to my spectacular singing ( purposely off key).  The song of choice right now is Baby Shark.  And if you do it with the windows down, the teens get the message quick.  

Any chance your DH would love to join in with the singing?  A duet a few times might be all you need. 

 

We normally have a quiet 20 minute ride to and from church, but for some reason my ds14 and ds16 were being goofy and irritating the whole way there and back yesterday.

We warned them the singing would begin if they didn’t knock it off.  They didn’t knock it off, so dh and I sang Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie” at top volume.  All three verses and the chorus.  We used to have to sing that to calm my oldest down when he was 1 and crying in the car because he was bored.  

 

Otherwise, I’d probably do a lot of what others have done:  check to be sure they’ve been fed, give them a no-nonsense and friendly little speech about appropriate car behavior before getting into the car, and then quietly pull over without a fuss until they settle down if they start acting up.  I wouldn’t make it a battle between me and them.  I’d stay calm and neutral through it all.  It’s just a bad habit to break and might take a little bit of time.  I wouldn't make it dramatic, as that might make the habit-breaking period stretch out longer than it needs to.

Edited by Garga
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9 hours ago, J-rap said:

Scones and coffee during the car ride?

I was going to suggest pop tarts!

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I put on "church" music on our Sunday drive. A great lady gave me the Children's Song Book CDs. I told them that we need to be in the proper state of mind for church so the music is not negotiable. Currently, our ride is 5 minutes but they can still find something to bicker about. It's usually me yelling at them to get in the car so we're not late. 😆

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Change seating positions in the car? Allow the older one to sit in the front, and have one parent sit in the back between the other too. 

When my two could not get along, I would “punish” them by making them do chores together. One summer I had the best weeded flower beds on the whole street.

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On 5/13/2019 at 8:27 AM, Sherry in OH said:

Leave extra early.  Drive until you are within a reasonable walking distance of church.  Pull over and order everyone out.  They walk.  Have and enforce consequences for dawdling and arriving late.  Unless your children really like walking, you shouldn't have to do this more than once or twice.   

Otherwise, an audiobook or family sing-along?  

I think this would be great. Especially since there is only one road from our direction to church. So everyone who comes that way will see my lovely children walking to church.

On 5/13/2019 at 8:28 AM, TheReader said:

Otherwise, my only other idea is revert to "little kid" mode where you go over the expected behavior before getting into the car, once in the car, have them repeat it back to you, etc. Are we going to annoy one another? No. Are you going to complain when...? No. Are you going to pester....? No. Are we ready to get into the car and have a pleasant ride? Yes. Okay, great, thank you. Even switch it to ask/answer format -- How do we sit in the car? Hands to ourselves, hands in laps, stay on my side of the car.  How do we ride in the car? Quietly, no talking, no humming, no signing, no bickering.  (or whatever particular statements you need to make to curb the behaviors)

Best of luck!

I think we do need to have a discussion before we get in the car.

On 5/13/2019 at 9:36 AM, J-rap said:

Scones and coffee during the car ride?

I think Eating would make it much worse. My son likes to be gross, my daughters are more annoyed by eating sounds than they are by breathing.

23 hours ago, Liz CA said:

 

How are things on the ride home?

The same.

 

I think there are two issues at play:

1. My son is a morning person and he likes church so he's happy to be going. If he can be happy and annoying, well...that's even better.

2. My 14 yo is not a morning person at all. She does not like mornings. She does not like her brother's cheerfulness. She does not like getting out of the house before noon (This generally only happens on Sundays We don't sleep in any later during the rest of the week, but just having to get up and get moving makes her grumpy). So she's just generally grumpy over the whole situation. She likes church, but getting there in the company of a cheerful, excited 11 yo is not her happy place. 

I really think I'm going to start making children do chores while holding hands when this stuff occurs. 

Edited by fairfarmhand
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Maybe we can memorize Galatians 5:19-23

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, org**s, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Its interesting that things like discord, dissension, and fits of rage are on the same list as idolatry, witchcraft and org**s.

Although we may end up going down the rabbit hole of what is an org*

But hey, at least they won't be bickering.

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Could you stop before getting into the car and pray together? Do you have a religious playlist on your phone or anything that you could play on the way?

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21 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

I think this would be great. Especially since there is only one road from our direction to church. So everyone who comes that way will see my lovely children walking to church.

I think we do need to have a discussion before we get in the car.

I think Eating would make it much worse. My son likes to be gross, my daughters are more annoyed by eating sounds than they are by breathing.

The same.

 

I think there are two issues at play:

1. My son is a morning person and he likes church so he's happy to be going. If he can be happy and annoying, well...that's even better.

2. My 14 yo is not a morning person at all. She does not like mornings. She does not like her brother's cheerfulness. She does not like getting out of the house before noon (This generally only happens on Sundays We don't sleep in any later during the rest of the week, but just having to get up and get moving makes her grumpy). So she's just generally grumpy over the whole situation. She likes church, but getting there in the company of a cheerful, excited 11 yo is not her happy place. 

I really think I'm going to start making children do chores while holding hands when this stuff occurs. 

 

Sounds like 14yo should be seated  as far as possibleaway from 11yo .   14yo should wear earplugs, and perhaps an eye mask until arrival at church

next to 11yo should be someone, maybe mom or dad, who can engage in happy talk

if possible see if 2 vehicles going would help. Perhaps 17yo could drive herself and silent sleepy sister and mom or dad drives the rest of crew 

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Wait, wait, wait. Why are we solving this problem? They could solve this problem. Buy or make them a pizza, put them at the table, and give them pens and paper. Tell them you want their solution in an hour. Warn them that strangers on the internet are threatening them with Baby Shark and extra chores, but you think they can come up with their own strategy to take care of this.

ETA: Maybe frame the discussion as a question: What do we all need to get to and from church peacefully?

Edited by whitehawk
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I also like idea of going by foot or bike. 

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19 minutes ago, whitehawk said:

Wait, wait, wait. Why are we solving this problem? They could solve this problem. Buy them a pizza, put them at the table, and give them pens and paper. Tell them you want their solution in an hour. Warn them that strangers on the internet are threatening them with Baby Shark and extra chores, but you think they can come up with their own strategy to take care of this.

 

This sounds even better.  

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I saw this post earlier in the week on my phone but I don't know my login.

We used to experience this. The arguing, rushed mornings, leaving the house late, everyone grumpy, bickering and short tempers in the car. By the time we got to church (an hour away), it was hard to make that transition into being happy.

I finally realized satan was having his way with our family. Once we were aware of that, it changed our perspective, and things eased up. It didn't change overnight, but the realization was huge for us to see what was really happening. I would encourage you to consider that, and then use some of the suggestions mentioned above--suggestions that promote togetherness in your family, not punishment or separating people. You all are in this together!

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