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Want to Raise Your Kids Without a Car? Check Out These Tips From Moms Who Are Doing It

Want to Raise Your Kids Without a Car? Check Out These Tips From Moms Who Are Doing It

If you live a car-free life, finding out you’re having a baby may make you question things. As if the “do we need a bigger house?” moments weren’t enough, there’s also the issue of deciding whether or not to trade your high Fitbit step count in for some serious gas mileage.

On the one hand, you probably love how unencumbered you feel without a car to worry about — not to mention how easy it is to travel via foot, public transportation and ride-sharing apps.

But on the other hand, you’ve likely heard that raising kids can be tough when you don’t have a dependable ride.  Between car seats, diaper bags,  strollers, and everything else they need, it can seem almost impossible to exist as a car-free parent. But here’s the thing: It’s not impossible, and these moms are proof of that.

Parenting without a car isn’t for everyone. There are tons of factors that influence whether or not its feasible for you — and where you live might be the biggest one of all (this is one area where urban families have a clear advantage!). But if it seems up your alley, chances are it could work for you. Of course, there are plenty of factors to consider, but these three New York moms are making it work, and they’ve shared some tips for other families who would like to give car-free parenting a try.

And if you can’t imagine living without a car in your day-to-day life, remember this: These tips totally apply to families who are traveling, too! So if you’re planning a trip to New York City (or any other urban area, for that matter), here’s how you can make it work without wheels.

Plan out your routine

“Map out your weekly routine (children’s programs, grocery store, school/daycare, work if applicable, as well as fun things you want to do as a family)-see if going car-free is workable where you live,” Aurora Satler, a New York City mom of two who lives without a car, advised. “If it is, get a great stroller with good wheels (invest in better wheels for winter and a good rain cover and raincoat for yourself).”

Embrace your options

“As your child ages, you can invest in a great bike with child seat or trailer to go further afield,” Aurora added. “Look into car rentals because there will probably be times you will wish you had a car. Learn the public transit options in your area.”

Be prepared

“Use a backpack instead of a diaper bag to carry everything you will need for the day,” Aurora suggested. “Since you will be using public transit always pack extra diapers, meals and snacks and a change of clothes since trains stall, buses delay and you want to have what you need on you.”

Keep it lightweight

“The car seat equation is the toughest. If you can go car-free with just booster seats, that makes your life much easier since it’s easier to haul boosters around opposed to convertible car seats,”  Ruthy Kirwan, who’s raising two kids in Queens suggested. [Editor’s note: Of course, you’ll want to make sure your little one is ready for a booster seat before doing so! Check in with your doctor before making the switch.] Raising a kid who isn’t big enough for a booster yet? Get on board with baby-wearing — according to Ruthy, that’s a great way to navigate parenthood when you don’t have a car.

Anticipate emergencies (of the bathroom variety!)

Elizabeth Parise, who has raised her six kids car-free in both urban and suburban areas (she now lives on Long Island), also stressed the importance of planning ahead…because bathroom emergencies are real. “Know where all of the bathrooms are for any trip you are going on, no matter how short,” she said. “You may need to get yourself or a child to a bathroom quickly and you won’t have time to search in that moment.”

Look on the bright side

“Focus on the positive aspects of being car-free, especially in front of your kids. Think about the fresh air and exercise you’re getting by walking instead of driving,” Elizabeth said.  “Notice things you wouldn’t otherwise notice, or the people you meet walking or on public transportation. Think of it as multi-tasking:  You’re getting your workout in while running necessary errands. Think about all of the money you’re saving. Do not apologize to your kids when they get older and complain about having to walk. Apologizing will give them the idea that there’s something wrong with not having a car. Stay matter-of-fact about it and focus on the positive. Be understanding, but not apologetic.”

Image by Belle Augusta

 

 

 

 

 

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