Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kids Make Life Complicated

It's true, you know. Having kids, especially more than one, but even just one, changes every single aspect of your day-to-day life. Let's look at some examples.

Your car is due for service.

Before kids:
Drive car to shop. Call friend/coworker for ride to home/work, or, alternatively, catch a ride to home/work as a courtesy from the shop. When work is done, catch a ride back to shop, pick up car, and go on with life.

With kids:
Option 1) Drive car to shop. Transfer car seats to friend's car/spouse's car/mechanic's courtesy ride. Drive home. (Or, have mechanic drive you home in your car, unload kids, stroller, etc. and watch mechanic drive away in your car.) When car is done, call upon whatever method you used to get home to get back to the shop, transfer car seats (if applicable) back to your car, load up kids, stroller, etc., and drive home.

Option 2) Hire a baby-sitter or ask someone to watch your kids. Take car to shop. Call upon a friend/relative/coworker to drive you back home, or use the shop's courtesy ride. Relieve baby-sitter. When car is done, call upon baby-sitter again, find ride back to shop, get car, come home.

Either way, it's a lot more of an arrangement to make. Now, granted, if it's a short service, like just an oil change, you can hang around at the shop or walk around the neighborhood or whatever with your kids while you wait for the car to be done. Not so bad. Or, if your kids are older and in school, it's probably less complicated. I'm talking about when you have small children, still at home with you, who require car seats.

I suppose Option 3 is to prevail upon your spouse to take the car in for you. Hm.

You need to go to the post office, the bank, Costco, get gas, and pick up your dry-cleaning.

Before kids:
Figure out the most logical route to save gas. You probably want to do Costco last in case you buy any perishables. Go.

With kids:
Load kids into car seats. Make sure you have stroller or carrier for baby/toddler(s). Go to gas station and fill tank. Thank G-d for pay-at-pump. Go to Costco. Unload kids from car, put little ones in cart and/or carrier. Trudge through Costco with the bigger one's short little legs churning along behind you. "No, we can't get that." "No, we can't buy that." "No, you can't have that sample." Pay. Load up car with kids and purchases. Go home. Unload car. Nurse baby, serve lunch, use toilet, change diapers. Load up kids in car again. Go to dry-cleaners. Feel stab of guilt at leaving kids in car while you run in to pick up your stuff. Yes, it's only five minutes, but they say you should never leave young kids in the car. It'll be quick! Guilt. Put dry-cleaning in car. Go to post office. Unload kids. Wait in line holding baby in one hand and package in the other (oh good, you remembered to bring the package with you) and wishing you'd brought the baby carrier in because the line is way longer than you expected. "Don't touch that." "No, it's not free." "Don't rip that!" "Don't push that button." Send package. Load up car with kids again. Go to bank. Unload kids from car. Put baby in carrier in case there's a long line. (Oh good, you remembered the checks you needed to deposit.) Go into bank. "Sit on those chairs and don't move." "Yes, you can have a lollipop, if you behave." "Stop shrieking." "Sit down." Make deposit. Get enough lollipops to go around. Load kids into car again. Go home.

You want to see a movie. No, not a kids' movie.

Before kids:
Pick a day and time and go.

With kids:
Pick a day and time, find someone to watch them, make sure to leave food, etc. Go. Leave phone on vibrate and hope they don't call you.

Okay, that's not so much more complicated, but still. It requires a baby-sitter.

You want to go out for dinner.

Before kids:
Pick a restaurant. Go.

With kids:
Pick a family-friendly place that has food that at least half of your kids will eat. Preferably french fries. G-d forbid they should try something new, especially if you're paying for it. Get kids' menus. Retrieve crayons from floor. "What do you want to eat?" "No, they don't have hot dogs." "You can't have pizza and a cheeseburger." "Fine, have just french fries." "Yes, and ketchup." "They don't have cranberry juice. Is apple okay?" Retrieve crayons from floor. Order. "Are you eating?" Retrieve crayons from floor. "No, we're not getting dessert." "Stop screaming." Take at least one child to bathroom in the middle of eating. Retrieve crayons from floor.

I mean this mostly tongue-in-cheek of course. But it's true that having small kids definitely complicates life. Things that used to be simple, like making a few stops on the way home from work or doing something fun on the weekend, suddenly require considerably more arrangements and planning. I'm sure things get easier as your kids get older and you can either leave them home alone or they at least don't need help getting in and out of the car. It's even better when they can help you. My oldest has reached a point where he can actually be helpful in the supermarket, for example. But I think people without kids sometimes don't realize just how much more time everything takes when you have small kids along. With the loading and unloading of the car, dealing with tantrums, whining, hunger, potty, and diapers, and not wanting to tire them out too much by stacking too many errands, every outing has the potential to become an adventure.

And that is why sometimes, for parents of young children, simply going food shopping without any kids along feels like a vacation!

1 comment:

  1. Something that may help you (in the same way that pay-at-the pump is awesome): You can make a deposit at the ATM. Many ATMs these days have deposit-slipless and envelopeless deposits. And many banks have drive-up ATMs. Alternatively (old school), many banks have drive-up tellers. No need to get the kids out of the car unless you need to access a safe deposit box.