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Making the Best of a Road Trip Detour by Fern Weis

Today’s article is about a tiny travel detour we experienced. If you know me at all, you know that I could have turned it into a dissertation about the detour as a metaphor for life. Lucky for you, it’s a bit lighter than that.

We were on our way home from the Poconos, and the traffic was worse than usual. I, for one, would rather drive a few miles out of the way and keep moving than sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic. So we took a left and found ourselves in beautiful rolling hills and farmland in northwestern New Jersey. And along the way I saw…. an ostrich farm! We backed up to take a better look at hundreds of these enormous birds.

It’s not the first time we chose to go off the beaten path. This has recently taken us to waterfalls and historic sites. If you’re not on a strict schedule, these unplanned detours can be positive, out-of-the-ordinary adventures.

Of course I understand that these would not be at the top of your kids’ list of must-see places. They wouldn’t make it onto the list at all; however, there’s a lot to be learned (and I don’t mean just about the places through which you travel). What can you and your kids get out of a detour?

1) Flexibility – Things don’t always go as planned. We all need to exercise those adaptability muscles and go with the flow.

2) Patience - Some will enjoy the detour, others will not. Know that one day you will stumble onto something that interests you, and will bore everyone else to tears.

3) Creativity – We all know how boring a road trip can be. How many of you would push your kids to entertain themselves without any phones or electronics? (Remember the license plate game and counting cars with one headlight? I have to remind myself that that was my childhood, not the world our kids live in!)

4) Curiosity - Our kids have become quite blasé. A detour can have the potential to stir their curiosity about something unexpected or out of the ordinary. The fact is that, in spite of their access to anything they can think of, in some ways their world is shrinking. This can be another chance for you to get them thinking about things outside their world.

5) A good book, anyone? - I remember many drives where I hung a sweater or jacket on the hook, hid under it, and read a book. When was the last time your kids read a book (even on a Kindle)?

6) Sleep - If they really can’t stand it, this is the opportunity for a nap! (What I wouldn’t give to be able to sleep sitting up.)

Detours can be unpredictable, annoying or interesting, and test everyone’s patience. How you make the best of it is up to you. Enjoy those road trips, everyone!

~Fern Weis, Certified Coach and Middle School Teacher, helps parents break down the walls their teens put up, so they can have a great relationship and better prepare their kids for success in college and beyond. Learn how Fern can help you with your parenting concerns through coaching, classes and workshops at Your Family Matters.


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