This summer we took our second vacation as a family. It was a 12 hour road trip to the beach. In our new car. Without a DVD player.
I was shocked as we researched our new car. Our options were a bit limited because of the size of our family (we have 5 kids), and my husband was adamant that the car have leather seats and all-wheel drive. Leather seats because we once had a set of foster kiddos who got extremely car sick (literally couldn't drive more than 10 miles. In the Ozarks, that barely gets you to Walmart), and all wheel drive because lake roads after a winter storm are incredibly treacherous. As we test drove and visited car lots there was one thing we struggled to find...a family SUV with a DVD player. Apparently, now they come with wifi and parents are expected to provide the device. Wait....what??
So this summer we hit the road...without a DVD player. At one point we attempted to rig the family iPad up between the front seats so the kids could watch a movie but within 5 minutes we knew, it just was not going to work. The kids had each packed a backpack with toys and books (no noise toys allowed), and I armed myself with Spotify, composition notebooks, and colored pencils (the Crayola Twist-Ups are the best). And waited for the inevitable melt down about 4 hours in.
But something strange happened...the melt down never came. Sure, they bickered a bit like siblings do but no melt downs. All the way down to the beach. And, all the way home. A few hours from home I realized, we didn't need that DVD player after all.
I'm not anti technology by any means but I've noticed more and more kids relying on devices to make it through dinner at a restaurant, waiting at the dentist, and even church and school functions. It has made my resolve to teach my kids to be able to wait without entertainment stronger. Which is good, because with 5 kids, I need all the resolve I can get. Sometimes I just want to hand my phone over with Candy Crush or Netflix. It's tough. I get it. What keeps me going is thinking about my goal: to raise responsible, respectful, and reasonable adults. Learning how to wait patiently when necessary is an essential skill and one I am willing to suffer through some unpleasant moments for.