We spend much of our family lives in the car.
We run errands.
We take kids to school, to soccer, to piano lessons, to swim lessons, on playdates, and on. And on.
What all this time on the road really means is that our wheels are also our home away from home.
So why not make it a peaceful place - or at the very least, not stressful?
It can be done - and these 8 car rules for kids can help.
No screaming or shouting in the car. Just like rules at home, you can enforce with time-out penalties or the removal of privileges, the car rules of the road for children are no different.
No arguing in the car. (Yes, arguing can be legislated. Try this: Once you say "stop!" the next kid to continue to argue in any way, shape, or form loses one day of TV or other coveted privileges. Each additional offense loses another day. Hey, you could give away the TV one day.)
Car safety dictates we don't want to try to resolve family disputes while driving. So when arguments ignite - immediately pull over. Kids know when you've pulled off the road suddenly that this is not good news. Fight game over.
The reason for this rule is apparent. It's the law. You can easily enforce this with younger kids by telling them - as I did when my daughter was 5 or 6 - that the car won't start unless everyone's seat belts are fastened. I think I got away with this until she was about 11.
No child under age 12 may ride in the front seat. This one is just a good safety rule, even if you don't have a passenger-side air bag.
No touching window, radio, or any other controls unless expressly directed to do so by the driver. (And keep your hands to yourself, please.)
Passengers must put all leftovers and wrappers in the car trash can or in a bag that can be tossed upon arriving home or at the destination. (Or in the fridge if the leftovers are keepers!)
No one can go into the house until everything is unloaded from the car. Each child is responsible for getting his or her stuff - all of it - to and from the vehicle. Yes, kids, this does mean you'll sometimes have to make two or even three trips after arriving home, just like Mom.