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The Minivan Years – Coping Tips for Christian Moms

Lucky reader Katrina won a copy of The Minivan Years

I have 3 daughters under age 10, and everyone has playdates, activities, and errands. I know I spend far more time in my minivan than I ever expected! I love being home with my daughters, but there are a few moments here and there that aren’t fun. I was interested in having the opportunity to review The Minivan Years: Celebrating the Hectic Joys of Motherhood, to read another mom’s experiences parenting young children. A minivan can be a small, shrill place for even the loveliest daughters, dogs, snacks, and sand toys!

The Minivan Years: Celebrating the Hectic Joys of Motherhood is a collection of essays by Olivia Bruner which brings attention to the good parts of life with young and busy children. While pointing out the positives, Bruner uses Christian messages as well as anecdotes from her daily life and the lives of her friends and family. You may recognize Bruner’s name from her earlier book Playstation Nation, which she co-authored with her husband, Kurt Bruner. Their names may also be familiar because of their close work with Focus on the Family and Dr. Dobson.

If you are a Christian mom who is feeling frazzled, this is the book for you! Whether you are stressed by the number of things you have to do each bedtime, or having to reheat dinner before eating it, or even simply the amount of time you are stuck in the car, there are simple ideas on how to make you and your family happier. It’s great to see simple, insightful ideas; Bruner knows that giving overwhelmed parents complex ideas to reduce stress would only cause more stress! Each chapter highlights a certain area of life that can be challenging, and then gives tips to help lower your stress level and increase family harmony. Bruner intersperses her tips for keeping a positive attitude during The Minivan Years with quotes from Scriptures and lessons from the Bible. Don’t think because Bruner is quoting Scripture and discussing her faith throughout the chapters, that she has a holier-than-thou attitude; she is funny and self-deprecating as she talks about her own parenting mishaps. You can’t help but laugh with her when her two year old goes outside and knocks on the neighbor’s door dressed only in bubbles!

If you are not Christian, this book is not likely to be a good fit. The religious message is very strongly tied with the parenting tips, so it would be difficult to “bleep” over the Christian aspects. Depending on your comfort level with Christian theology, you may wish to look through it, as Bruner has some wonderful ideas that anyone can use.

Some of the nuggets from The Minivan Years I really enjoyed were:

  • Relax! We must learn to worry less and trust our instincts more.” (p. 97)
  • High/Low: “Begin the habit of going around the dinner table and asking each person to take turns sharing his or her high and low for that day.” (p. 28)
  • Play together: “When I play a round of Go Fish with Shaun, he learns to enjoy me as a person, not merely obey me as a parent and authority figure.” (p. 55)
  • Money Management: “It’s never too early to begin modeling and teaching your children about handling money. Why not start when they are young by setting up a give, save, and spend allowance box?” (p. 64)

If you are a devout Christian with young kids, I highly recommend picking up The Minivan Years. It will give you some ideas about picking your battles and realize that “if a perfect parent like God encounters mishaps, I suppose you and I are in good company.” (p. 15) Olivia Bruner has a lovely sense of humor, and she intertwines real examples of parenting mishaps along with guidance from the Bible and changes her family made so their lives would become easier.

If you have a different belief structure, I recommend looking at The Minivan Years at the library or a bookstore prior to purchasing it. Depending on your comfort level, it may or may not be a book that could give you a some new ideas.

This book was received from the publisher for review

Thank you to everyone who commented!