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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Dozen Hard Won Tips Regarding the Family Car

Due to a pretty serious rear-ending, we recently got a new car. (By recently I mean last spring, since I apparently have more pressing matters than punctual blogging?!).  In the mean time we had a rental and a loaner.  It reminded me of all the things I've learned about cars since having kids.  Maybe you know all of this already.  Maybe not.  But I thought I'd share on the chance that there might be one or two helpful things on the list.

Hard won tips in regards to the family car;

1. Having a kid in the car lets you use the diamond lane! AKA carpool lane, HOV lane.  (At least in our state--check yours).

2.When transporting kids, plan on a load time of 15 minutes--that means plan on it taking 15 minutes to get in the car, even if you are only going on a 5 minute trip to the grocery store. In my experience it always takes that long, even if we are going somewhere close to home.

3. When purchasing or renting a car, remember to factor in the width of the backseat, and the trunk space.  Big car seats sometimes take up too much space to go three across, even if there are enough 'seats' in the car.  Narrower car seats and/or seat belt extenders can help. Some crossover cars, while technically 7 seaters, might not have enough trunk space for even a small stroller when all the seats are up.  Soft carriers or renting strollers at your destination can be a work around, but it is not ideal. Also, get the rubber floor mats.  They help.  A lot.

4. Keep some car games handy.  Our favorites are; Slug Bug/Bruiser Cruiser, The Alphabet Game (spot all the letters in the alphabet in order), Hold Your Breath Over the Bridge Game.  Unusual (but safe) kitchen gadgets entertained our young toddlers on long road trips when nothing else would (think potato mashers, colanders, measuring spoons). That and Raffi.  As much as I thought my kids would be perfectly happy listening to my music, I was wrong.  Okee Dokee Brothers are good too.

5. Headphones are great for older kids on longer trips.

6. A good audio book makes car rides much better.  No need to reserve them for long trips.  I figured out we were driving about 4-6 hours a week with the kids in the car.  Everyone looked forward to driving when we were in the middle of a good book.

7. Consider keeping a few sleds in the trunk all winter, or a Frisbee and some sand toys in the trunk all summer.  It makes outdoor play much easier to do on short notice.

8. Stamps, coupons and other things that are only useful out of the house might best be stored in the glove box.

9.Turning the key twice in the direction that unlocks the driver's door will unlock all  the doors.

10.There is an arrow next to the gas icon on the dashboard that shows on which side of the car the gas cap is located.

11. Keep a drivers' manual in the car to consult case of weird occurrences (like the steering wheel locking up).

12. Use GPS or your state's Department of Transportation website to figure out the best rout in current traffic, even if you know how to get there (and get a really accurate ETA). On the same topic, get directions to where you are going to park, not where you are going.

13. During the potty training stage, it can be nice to keep a spare change of clothes in the trunk for kids under 4 or 5.  Whether it is a potty accident, slipping in the mud or spilling punch all over themselves, they tend to need spares now and then.

14.  But, in general, have the kids treat the car like a public transportation. Do not let them get in the habit of leaving coats, books, art supplies, etc, in the car (I know this one is hard--we still struggle).

Oh yeah, and don't let your weirdo cat hang out in the car.  We once almost left with a feline stowaway. What cat voluntarily enters a car??

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