Family time is one of the best things about the RV life. When close quarters and long stretches of driving begin to wear on everyone, though, the atmosphere in the cab of your truck can get a little tense.
Fighting between siblings is common, and it can turn a fun family road trip into a long, stressful ordeal.
You might not be able to prevent fighting altogether, but you can take some small steps to promote harmony between your children.
Here are some quick tips to stop backseat bickering when you’re out on the road.
Boredom and fighting go together like s’mores and sticky fingers. If you want to stop the arguing before it starts, make sure there are other things in the car to keep everyone entertained.
Each of your kids is different, so make sure you’re stocked with things that appeal to your kids’ individual interests.
For the quiet creative, a small drawing pad and a set of colored pencils might keep him or her occupied for hours. Crossword puzzles and word searches can be a good choice for kids who don’t get motion sick when reading in the car, and mad libs are silly fun for everyone in the vehicle.
Make sure everyone keeps getting along by stocking a variety of activities for groups and individuals. When you’re sensing that the kids are getting cranky, or when you need a little quiet time for yourself, pull out the solo stuff.
Sitting still for hours on end makes everyone irritable.
Do yourself a favor and stop at least once per hour to get out and move around. Make sure your kids actually get out of the car at stops, because if they just sit there in the back seat, they’re not getting their circulation flowing.
If your kids are a little too eager to shop for souvenirs at rest stops, take advantage of all those scenic stops and roadside placards along the way. Not every stop has to be at a gas station.
Stopping to get out and look around helps alleviate boredom, boosts everyone’s mood, and gives you something to talk about when you get back into the car. It’s also important for your health to stand up and move around frequently, so plan extra time for extra stops.
Give Kids Their Own Territories
Part of the frustration that causes fighting during long road trips is that your kids don’t have anywhere to retreat.
We all need some alone time, and depending on personality, your kids might need a little or a lot. By designating personal space before everyone piles into the car, you set yourself up for success in the event a fight starts.
If it’s possible, set boundaries for each individual child. The area around their seat might be good enough, or you might be able to set aside a spot in the cab where a child can retreat for some alone time. The most important thing is to be very clear about the physical (and verbal) boundaries that are not okay to cross.
Space might be limited, of course. When everyone is crammed together, you can achieve something similar by letting your kids call for alone time whenever they need it. During alone time, they participate only in solitary activities, and nobody else in the car can touch them or bother them.
Strictly enforcing these boundaries does a lot of good.
For one thing, your children feel more secure and responsible when they’re able to participate or not participate according to their own needs and wants. It’s also a great way to stop or prevent fights, because a child that feels overwhelmed can retreat and regroup, even if they aren’t physically able to walk away.
Bickering is going to happen despite all your preparation and good intentions. When it does, keep your cool, resolve the situation, and get back to the point:
Have fun together.
Even if the campground is the destination, the road trip to get there is part of the experience. Enjoy it.