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On the road again


Chances are, if you're already a parent, you'll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say you'll be spending a lot of time in the car once your new or next baby is here. I feel like I am a chauffeur. Not a taxi driver as many a bumper sticker would suggest "mums taxi", but a chauffeur. The difference is that there is no down time, no off button, no payment at the end of the journey. You're very much a servant and a poorly paid one at that!


My older daughter is four. You would think that we would be spared the driving Miss Daisy routine at least for a while yet, but these days that's just not the case. As soon as baby is born, there are appointments, baby clinics and mothers groups, and that's just for baby. If you are the stay at home parent, you may also have to do the food shopping, the library runs and taking the older kids to school.


Even if you can cut some of these out, chances are there will come a point in those first six months where you resort to driving around the block for an hour to get your child to sleep. We have all done it, even if we won’t admit it to our environmentally conscious friends and family.


Now that she's older, we have day care, swimming lessons, dancing, soccer and play dates for my daughter. I sometimes feel like we may have over-scheduled her, but at the same time I don't want her to miss out. The only thing is, my own day is taken up with the drive to and from events, parties and appointments.


I worked out early on that in order to make the car as stress free as possible, there are a number of really easy little things that you can purchase, none of them are terribly expensive and they will make your travelling bearable.


Make sure you have a car mirror. When you have a new baby on board, you will be tempted to look over, reach into the capsule, pull over at inopportune time, to check on said baby. If they are screaming you will want to check what's wrong, if they're silent, you'll want to check what's wrong, and if they're laughing, you'll want to know whether they've discovered their toes, or an enormous spider that crawled into the car as you were strapping them in. By hooking up a mirror you can quickly check to make sure they're ok while safely driving onwards to your destination.


Get yourself an insulated snack bag. This is great early on if you are going on a longer journey and you are carrying expressed breast milk or boiled water for formula. Also, don't dismiss the fact that you may want to snack healthily and your only option could be a chocolate brownie (or for that matter, you may REALLY want a chocolate brownie and your only option is a mung bean salad!). As your kids get older, these remain one of the most important accessories to a car journey. Never underestimate the quietening power of a cheese stick or a box of grapes. These little individual reusable snack packs are awesome for prettying up a plain old cut up apple.


To go with your insulated snack bag, grab yourself a car bottle and food warmer. These are GREAT if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and you need to feed your baby quickly. Babies get hungry. They don't care if you are driving down the highway, you're looking for a park or you are in the middle of the national forest. If you are bottle feeding it's great to have an option to get expressed milk or formula to the right temperature when you're in a hurry.


As an extension of this, when they get older, and they drop their sippy cup, they don't care how many lanes of highway you will have to cross to turn around and retrieve it for them. Think about investing in a drop buddy so they can pull them back up themselves.


And finally get a window sunshade or two. You don't realise how hot it can get in the car when you're unable to move out of the sun, or wind the window down by yourself. You can also use one of your babies wraps wound up into the window but in my opinion, the fussing around that that takes is not worth the effort when you can just get one with suction cups that easily sticks on the inside of the window.


You will be spending a LOT of time in your car from now on. Do as much as possible to make your journey as painless as possible, and consider starting a savings plan for your newborns future driving lessons.