Well, long before I knew that crazy statistic, I realized that I spent a significant amount of time in the car every day, so shortly after Marianna was born I thought about how I was going to use that time. I wanted to spend car time intentionally so that it could be used meaningfully instead of flying by, wasted.
Over the past three years I've tried to keep that commitment to view our car time together as opportunities to be treasured, not hours to pass. And as I look back, I've got to say that I am shocked by how much we have done together, just riding along in the car. After all, outside of time spent driving there aren't that many hours we moms have a captive audience in our small children, so I've found those hours to be priceless.
So what do we do? I'm going to try and break it down into three main categories. The first is general learning, especially memorization. Car time is perfect for learning songs, Bible verses, letter sounds, how to spell your name, your phone number, the months of the year, the days of the week, family birthdays. You name it. If it involves lots of repetition, the car is a great place to work on it. We've actually done all of the above, most to made up songs by yours truly. They may not be musically sound, but they work. And most importantly, it has made learning fun instead of tedious. I'm pretty certain Marianna doesn't know she has learned all of that. It's just part of what we do in the car, as normal to her as taking a bath or brushing her teeth.
Another category, and one of Marianna's very favorites, is Bible story time. I've covered the great stories from the Bible from Adam and Eve to Paul and Timothy, telling them over and over until my throat goes dry, as Marianna, and now Adrienne, listens, loving them and always wanting more. I love reading books when we are home, but there is something special about telling these Bible stories out loud, using them as opportunities to explain the principles found in each story and plant the seeds about God's love for us. It's also a challenge for me as I have learned to focus not just on the story, but on the message behind each story.
And finally, we use car time to talk. Looking out the window provides enough material to talk about on just about any given car ride. We talk about seasons, emergency vehicles, fast food, banks, the post office, signs, bill boards and how the things going on around us point to when the seasons change. It doesn't matter what the subject matter because that's not the point. The point is that I want my girls to know that I care about what they have to say. I want them to know that I enjoy talking to them, not just to adults, and I want to use those opportunities we have to learn about all of the complex, confusing things that I didn't even realize were complex and confusing before I had kids.
Yes, sometimes I do just turn on a CD and we have some chill time in the car, but more often than not, we try and make our car time purposeful and fun. It's something that has worked for us, and even though sometimes my brain would rather go on autopilot than tell a story, or teach a song, or talk about the weather, it is worth it.
So there it is. That's my way of using those five hours, or however many they are, that I spend in the car each day. Now if only we could get that much done when we're not using gas!