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Why Driving with a Toddler in the Car Totally Sucks

Driving with a toddler (or probably any child, for that matter) in the car totally sucks. It’s that simple. Here’s why.

Once your car becomes the official child chauffeur machine, you’ve lost the battle. Your backseat will become overrun with toys, crumbs, and crap. You name it, it’s back there. Once, I found a stale, half-eaten waffle stuffed into the back pocket of the passenger seat. And you know what? I have a feeling I know just who put it there.

Not so bad, you’re thinking. It’s just a waffle. But hold on. It gets worse.

This is a true story. One day, I picked up my son from daycare and noticed that he was absolutely covered in Play Doh. Of course, he had Play Doh in all of the usual places, like underneath his nails and stuck to his jeans. But not only that, this kid had Play Doh smashed into his hair and in his ears. There had to have been an entire can of this crap stuck to the bottoms of his sneakers. His brand new, suede, (expensive) baby Saucony sneakers. Obviously, no one else got the opportunity to play with Play Doh that day because the entire classroom’s supply of that shit was all over my child. So anyways, I picked off as much as possible and carried him out to my brand new Kia Sorento. I’m sure you know where this is going. Needless to say, the toddler kicked the back of the passenger seat the ENTIRE way home. That’s 17 minutes worth of Play Doh transferring from my kid’s (now ruined) sneakers to every inch of fabric on the back of the passenger seat in my brand new (now very dirty) car. I have to say, the guys at the detail shop at the Delta Sonic car wash are absolute miracle workers. The amazing thing is that they said it wasn’t even the first time they had to scrub Play Doh from the upholstery of a car. Just another reason I know that it’s not just MY kid that’s causing problems. It actually does suck to drive with any toddler in the car at any given moment in time.

Carting a kid around sucks for a multitude of other reasons besides the simple, inevitable fact that they will ruin your vehicle. If your toddler is anything like mine, he will almost always demand that a drink and a snack cup are on hand at any given time while riding in the car. And if you supply these items, you can almost guarantee that at some point during EVERY single attempted trip, no matter the length, your kid will drop that both those items. (If you give a mouse a fucking cookie… Am I right???) So there you will be, praying to God the next light turns red, even though you are already late for work, simply because you know that getting that stuff back into the hands of the toddler is crucial in order to avoid major meltdowns for the rest of the time that you are trapped in that car together. Just as undoubtedly as the fact that your child will drop those things, they will almost always roll juuuuuuust out of your reach as you try to turn around, straining from the driver’s seat, as you beg sweet Jesus to let that cup find its way back into your hands.

Or maybe it’s one of these other wonderful encounters that contribute to the reason why I believe that any length of time with a toddler in the car is hellish:

  • Setting out on a four hour drive to our in-laws’ house with enough diapers, baby food, and formula packed for at least three days only to realize that we left the diaper bag at home.
  • Traffic. Enough said.
  • Toddler Tunes. Also, enough said.
  • Driving through any amount of sun glare and listening to the toddler scream about how the sun should go back to sleep. Maybe someone else should go to sleep, too…. Ahem…
  • Feeling so content during the one trip in which my kid did NOT drop his cup, only to spend the remaining 12 minutes of the ride home listening to him cry about how his milk is all gone.
  • Answering a phone call through the blue tooth connection in the car and having to spend at least 15 minutes of any and every call (even to my OBGYN about my missed appointment) allowing the kid to chat from his car seat before I can even get a word in.
  • The stage when my child insisted on bringing either an extremely large or incredibly loud toy with him into the car every time we left the house.
  • Having to heave a 30 pound toddler into the colossal convertible car seat which is placed strategically in the middle and safest part of the backseat (and the area in which he is now least likely to be able to kick the back of the front seats…)
This is not a joke. We went through a time frame when he wouldn't get into the car seat without the shopping cart. WTF??

This is not a joke. We went through a time frame when he wouldn’t get into the car seat without the shopping cart. WTF??

Oh how I miss the days when simply strapping the newborn into his car seat was enough to make him fall asleep for hours on end….

I used to think he looked SO peaceful sleeping quietly in his car seat...... Yeah. Those were the days.

I used to think he looked SO peaceful sleeping quietly in his car seat…… Yeah. Those were the days.

Due to the location of our jobs, I spent September through December driving my son back and forth to day care every single day that I worked. I was envious of my husband’s quiet commute when I was a stay at home mother, and even more so when I went back to work and realized that commuting with a kid is a fucking nightmare. Occasionally, my husband would stop at the bar on a Friday night to pick up dinner on his way home from the office while I picked up our son from daycare. Now that my job has changed and my son has switched day care locations, my husband has been able to take on half of the day care driving. Cue Angels singing, “HALLLLLLLLELUJAHHHH!” And so, this past Friday night, he picked up our son from day care and I stopped at the bar to “pick up dinner,” (AKA have a glass of wine by myself before heading home… oh and picking up dinner). When I called my husband to ask what he wanted me to order for him, I heard my son screaming in the background from his car seat. After four months of solo kid commutes, I hung up, sipped my wine, and waited patiently for our dinner. And I have to say, I didn’t feel guilty at all….. 🙂