Finding Calm Time to Connect With Your Family

Posted March 18, 2016 by

Finding Calm Time to Connect With Your Family

Last week a comment from a reader caught our attention and sparked a discussion among the coaches here.

Our reader shared that she likes to take advantage of “car time” with her teenage daughter on the way to school. For this family, car rides can sometimes be a calm time to discuss topics small and large.

We thought it would be useful to talk about finding time for meaningful communication with your family.

We say “communication” instead of “conversation” because many times it might be you explaining something to your child, not asking for feedback or answers. You could be explaining a ground rule, a boundary or appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. Other times it might be a back and forth with more connection involved. Either way, finding a calm time is important and challenging.

So much of what we talk about on our site, and in our programs, advises not to act or try and solve problems with your child in the heat of the moment, when emotions are high. We encourage parents to step away and reengage when things are calm. But when is that moment?

This made us stop and think about our own versions of “car time” with our families. We found that as a group, we also use many different opportunities for calm family talk. Cooking is one. Playing sports and going for walks were also high on the list.

Do you see a pattern of calm in your family? Are there times each day or week when you can communicate with your kids? And, if needed, address a larger issue?

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be a challenge to find calm times. You might try creating a reason for a drive, a walk or something that clears space for you and your family.

We’d love to hear your thoughts or any ideas you have on creating calm space for your family.

Wishing you peace this week,

The Empowering Parents Coaching Team


When you need guidance through a specific situation, have questions about your program or just need someone to listen when you’re overwhelmed, our professional 1-on-1 Coaches are waiting to help. Each is highly experienced with our range of learning programs and dedicated to personally motivating and supporting you. Learn more about Empowering Parents 1-on-1 Coaching.

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  1. Laurie Report

    With my oldest son “car time” was great. We could talk about all kinds of things. Even uncomfortable things. It seemed to work well because there was not that eye contact for some uncomfortable conversations and it was a very relaxing time. I am finding the same isn’t true for my 16 year old. Car time is not a relaxing time with him and it never was , even as a child in a car seat he hated driving places. He would scream bloody murder in the car and going on trips was always difficult. He seems to often become more hyper and restless in the car. I am hoping to find what works for him and i think it Its going to probably center around an activity like a walk or something… But I’m not really surprised because they are completely opposite kids.

  2. Angie Report

    I also use car time to communicate with my kids. We are on the road a lot with sports, so this is a quiet, easy way to talk about what’s been happening in their lives and approach subjects they may want to open up on. I find my kids actually do open up and as we talk they express more of their thoughts on different matters and tell me what’s been going on between their friends and things in general they do or don’t like about life. Sometimes there are tears sometimes we laugh. At the end of the ride I reassure them how much they are loved and that I’m here to help and give you the best advice I can.

  3. JoanCallanderDingle (Edit) Report

    I always found calm time to be when my son (adopted grandson) and I were doing something fun and active.  He especially liked the times when we’d go out to dinner…just us two or for ice cream.  I tried to ask, “What or why questions,” so I could hear what he was thinking and feeling…because sometimes just taking the words at face value can really get you going on the wrong path.

  4. Sahilsmama (Edit) Report

    For my 4.5 yr old and I, its usually during bedtime or when we go for walks. I try to bring up past events in a totally different angle. I also use certain things happening in movies/TV to show him appropriate or acceptable behavior and then apply it to the people around us. It takes a lot of work to be switched on for these moments but they do work!!

  5. Momontherun (Edit) Report

    After dinner seems to work well. Everyone is full and relaxed. Before dinner is the worst. Everyone is hungry and tired from the day’s activities. At least in our house.

  6. PFEN3650 (Edit) Report

    Patricia  –   Calm time/ positive approach essential. Listening  to what they are not saying also.  Communication is the key. 

    Not to reason with when anxieties are high.  Our special time is breakfast together .

  7. Luvmy3kids (Edit) Report

    I agree with car time. My son and I have had our most wonderful conversation on the road. Playing cards is another and when he is in his good moods lying in his bed just chatting about everything and anything. There is were we have had most of our laughs.

  8. Lyn Perks (Edit) Report

    I am looking forward to “practice driving” with my 16 year old for this exact reason.  I’ve got at least a year of being the passenger while she learns to drive.  My father used to take me out every night for practice driving (our car was a manual transmission so there was more practice involved).  I think he probably did that to have one on one time with me because I was good at the driving part fairly quickly – though rush hour traffic in Paramus NJ was something that was difficult to master – if possible at all.

  9. Jennifer (Edit) Report

    Calm time for my twin 13 year old boys is right when they are ready for bed. This is one all the stories from the day come out. I used to mind ithem staying awake longer and get perturbed about it but now, I welcome it!!

  10. ClaireLake (Edit) Report

    I really like this article. I had to start taking my 13 year old daughter to school due to her feeling overwhelmed by school and her learning difficulties. We have found the time in the car to be a great time to talk. Sometimes out of difficult times come changes that improve and change your life in ways that you couldn’t ever of imagined.
    We also sometimes just sing and it’s great fun xxx

  11. momincontrol (Edit) Report

    My daughter is 15.  I established Sunday afternoons as our calm time a few months ago.  I asked her if she would like to go to the Barnes Museum with me in Philly one Sunday afternoon.  I was most pleasantly surprised when she immediately said yes and off we went.   We had a fabulous time.  Something about museums…………….they feed the soul which calms the mind and nourishes the spirit.  We had lunch after and she opened up telling me things I had no idea about.  Since then, she comes to me on Sundays.  She mostly asks to go out for lunch or go shopping but that’s Okay.  The results are the same.

  12. LynnGB (Edit) Report

    I wrote about this in a blog a few years ago.  (Go to Blogger and look up “drive time with your teen”)   I coach families and parents just don’t get why their kids don’t communicate, yet they’re the ones that are modeling the behavior most of the time.  And LoriCadieuxMcIntyre, good for you!!  Dinner time is crucial!!  That’s where my generation grew up, communicated, talked, joked and occasionally fell asleep in front of the liver.

  13. QueenBee (Edit) Report

    My teen just turned 18.  Since preschool, car time has been the most productive time.   I agree with another parent, something about not being eye to eye, but being side by side, helps.  We speak on random thoughts as we drive to school, or practice or tournaments.   They usually have a lot on their minds from the events of the day and can’t wait to spill the beans, or as a parent reading your kid because they are especially quiet or agitated.   Bedtime is difficult because of so much homework, getting ready for bed.  As a single working parent, I have so much to do, including walking the dogs, fixing dinner, getting ready for the next day, and just unwind.  The car seems the most effective use of time.  I’m gonna miss it when she heads off to college in a few months.

  14. beth_life_ (Edit) Report

    We liked to use Friday night, before dinner, and call it “Happy Hour”. We would take our beverage of choice (milk for my daughter, a coke for my son, & whatever for my husband and I) and head to the deck to update and tell stories from the week. If the weather was too cold, we would meet in the family room. No electronics allowed … although sometimes we will play music in the background. This was a good time to talk about upcoming events and share happy thoughts. We also discussed anything that was on our minds (ex: frustrations, chores, finances,goals, etc.) … you just never knew where the communication would lead.

  15. LoriCadieuxMcIntyre (Edit) Report

    Our time for calm conversation usually revolves around a meal.  Particularly Sunday breakfast where it is the one of the few mornings we are not running around trying to be somewhere.  We call it our “family meeting time”.    My kids bring their discussion topics just as I do.  In this forum, we all get to say what is working and what is not.  We come up with a positive action plan and all agree to it.  Like a team strategy.  It has been working so well.  They look forward to family meetings – they are short but sweet!

  16. spc0720 (Edit) Report

    I was just saying this the other day. Our ( my tween and I) BEST conversations happen in the car. I wonder if it’s because there is no direct eye contact. No feelings of judgement thru your body language. Not really sure. I guess for me it does not matter cause it’s the best. She seems to open up in the car, shares things, thoughts, feelings. We laugh and tell stories. It’s awesome! I enjoy every minute because in the blink of an eye, when we get out of the car she goes back to normal and sharing with me isn’t so willing or easy. Gotta take those moments when they happen and enjoy every minute.

  17. CherylHoogewind (Edit) Report

    I have found that car time is a safe place to share our preference in music, enjoy the transition from one environment or situation to another, and just have quiet thinking time.

  18. dfw1103 (Edit) Report

    We use bedtime as our calm time as well. We do talk when driving. But most often we use bedtime. Even though she is 13 I go in at bedtime to “tuck her in”. I lie there with her, rubbing her back, and that’s when she really opens up to me. That’s a win for me.

    • Mumu (Edit) Report

      My 12 year old still gets tucked in every evening and it’s our time to catch up on everything that’s happened during the day or any topic that comes to mind – from philosophical musings to silly jokes. It’s that moment of the day (night) when everything becomes inconsequential and Im reminded of what really matters.

    • momof7 (Edit) Report

      I agree; bedtime is the best.  Even if my son with behavioral health challenges has had a rough day, and I’ve had my “not so great” mommy moments with him, I still lay beside him on his bed at night for reading, tucking in and prayers; Whether I feel like it or not!  This calms both of us down.

  19. Reyn Report

    I totally agree with this article… I learn more about my kids while in the car than being at home when everyone is preoccupied with something to do (house chores, TV, reading, or weekends spent with friends)…



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