Pimp My Ride!

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Categories Parenting

When my husband and I quit our jobs and relocated so that he could go to grad school, we became a one car family. That car was a black ’97 grand am, which wasn’t too bad for a childless couple, but quickly became overcrowded when our first son entered the world one year later.
 A few months after he was born, an act of God happened and we were gently plowed into by the city bus. Our car was totaled and with the money from the insurance we were able to get a Ford Focus Wagon. Upgrade! (Only a mom would think a wagon was an upgrade).

Fast forward one year later, we are expecting twins and have now outgrown our Focus and our new to us ‘00 Jeep. How do you fit three car seats across the back of on row of seats? Trust me; we tried every combination possible and even if we could fit all three seats, the mechanics of getting a kid into the middle would be impossible. There was no way around it; a van was our future.

Did we deserve a brand new Swagger Wagon (Toyota Sienna), you bet! But a car payment on a new pimped out minivan wasn’t realistic for tight budget. We were fortunate enough to find a pretty sweet mini-van that had all the swag of the Sienna, but at a third of the price. However, we learned pretty quickly that there is no perfect car. We had hoped to be able to take out a captain’s chair so we could easily get to the back seat, but because of side air bags the seat didn’t come out.

The car situation can be a major financial burden on families with multiples, especially when your family increases a lot quicker than you anticipated. Once you find the right vehicle, then you’ve got to plan for how your kids will safely ride. It seems impossible to find car seats in stores that you can fit three in a row across the back seat of a car, but with a measuring stick and patience, it can be done if needed.

Now that you’ve got your new ride and the kids strapped in, where do you put the stroller? I was quite depressed when I learned that the luxury limo style double stroller with every option possible (except for how to transport all three of my 3 under 2) takes up my entire trunk. Finding the right stroller can eat your budget up fast. After the twins were born I had at least six different strollers at my house and none of them suited my needs.

It’s easy to waste a lot of money searching for a solution to multiple child transportation. Here are some things I have learned along the way that will hopefully help save you some cold hard cash:

  • You don’t have to have a brand new Honda Odyssey; try to make what you already have work before you go car shopping and look for used gems with similar features.
  • Buy car seats that have a small base and can be used for a variety of ages. Sunshine Radian car seats have a small base and can be used rear facing and forward facing.
  • Pimp out existing equipment that you already own. Stroller connectors are great for connecting umbrella style strollers and they only cost around $12. This is a really great option of you have twins and an older or younger child. We made our son a sidecar on the twins double stroller, he loved it.
  • Go to consignment stores; check Craigslist, and Ebay to find deals on used equipment. *Only buy car seats from someone that you trust, if a car seat has been in an accident it is no longer safe to use.
  • Join your area mothers of multiples club and find out if they have a consignment sale.
  • Not everything has to match. If you have to have your gear “go together” try coordinating colors or look online for handmade seat covers.
  • Give up the dream of owning the perfect stroller, it doesn’t exist.
  • Be realistic about how often you will be going out and about. Does your usage justify the cost?
  • Consign or sell what isn’t working or what you don’t want to use anymore and roll it into other baby costs.

 How have you saved when it came time to pimp your ride?

Jamie is the mini van rocking mama to three lively boys, big brother age 2 and identical twins age 6 months. Check out Jamie’s blog and podcast, The Playdate Crashers



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9 thoughts on “Pimp My Ride!”

  1. I don’t think I would have ever thought to do a double stroller and link on a single umbrella stroller. Neat idea. I have just my one set of twins so a double stroller is all I need (or so I thought). I searched and searched for the perfect stroller and finally settled on the Maclaren Twin Techno then scoured craigslist for about 5 weeks before I was able to pick up a used one for a third of retail price. I thought I would be set in the stroller world. Little did I know that when the kids are older and completely sitting up their hands would go into each other’s face constantly. My twins are now a year and a half and most of the time I opt to use the wagon.

  2. We have a twin techno too, that is what we used to connect then. I have thought about getting three nice quality umbrella strollers and linking all three together too. Three umbrella strollers fit nicely in the trunk of a car and then you could go individuals if you wanted too as well.

  3. When I found out I was having twins, I googled to see what twin moms liked and decided on getting the Double Snap n Go stroller in the beginning, so I didn’t have to get babies out of car seats. When my carseats arrived, I tried desperately to fit them in the back of my Mustang. No go. I have 3 teenage stepchildren, but I thought that if I could just fit the seats in my car, we would just take two vehicles everywhere. Since that didn’t work, I started looking for a small SUV with a 3rd row. I really liked the Honda Pilot, and it had just enough space for the stroller in the back. I didn’t have an extra 12k sitting around, and my inlaws who had agreed to foot the bill were dragging their feet and I was running out of time. So I placed an ad on craigslist to trade my Mustang for an SUV. Suprisingly I got a good number of replies and decided on an 01 Durango. It was in much better shape than my car, and fit everyone in the family. The only thing I don’t like is that its not 4wd and there’s no room if I have one more like I want

  4. That’s a cool idea about the stroller! We ended up getting Valco twin stroller with a toddler seat .. a really sweet set up, albeit pretty expensive. But our oldest was just 16mo when the twins came so I needed something that would transport everyone safely. .. good tips all around!

  5. I’ve posted before about our decision not to buy a mini van (#5 of the related posts above). We’ve managed with three car seats in our Toyota Camry, but we’re having problems as we switch our Radian car seats from rear-facing to forward-facing. I’m crossing my fingers we don’t need to upgrade our vehicle to fit the car seats.

  6. Kijiji alerts are also great. You’ll get an email every day with any new ads that include your key words. This is much easier than searching through the ads every day.

  7. “Perfect stroller,” quite the dream! Our second double Maclaren stroller is the twin techno. I am in transit in Vancouver on my way back to Chengdu, a trip of three flights, over 24 hours. The right seat has broken!. It’s still usable but unsafe, probably uncomfortable, and might not make it. This is when I really need it 😉

  8. We went the minivan route. Like Noel above we tried to fit carrier car seats into our ’98 Honda Civic and Subaru Forrester and they would not fit. So we went with convertible carseats with removable headrests (the First Years True Fit) which we were able to install without issue. Until… Of course the boys grew and their height/weight required the headrest. We were not willing to turn them forward facing just yet, so we looked around for a bigger car. We ended up with the aforementioned Swagger Wagon, which we LOVE, but the only thing that stinks is with the two rear-facing car seats in the captain chairs in the middle row, the only way in/out of the 3rd row is through the trunk. So when our relatives visit, we have doting grandparents climbing in and out of the trunk. I know it is not forever, but it’s annoying. With the Odyssey, the seats move sideways together so you can access the back row. FOr now, we mostly use the 3rd row folded and have our stroller back there, but when needed the exit/entry is not the best for our guests. Thankfully it is not that often.

  9. We ended up with a mini van (happens to be a ’98 Sienna) that has the bench seat rather than the captains chairs. I can fit the twins’ car seats on the first bench and my 3 year-old’s car seat on the back bench, within reach of the door. My older two children have to climb over the car seat to get to the back corner, but it’s better than me having to climb over seats! We haven’t found a newer vehicle (that we can afford) that has the same seating arrangement.

    And yes, no stroller is perfect. Or grocery cart for that matter! I just had to teach my then 21 month-old to walk rather than ride. My outings had to be short enough for her, or I’d “wear” one of the babies and let her ride, or wait until I had someone else with me so that we could take two strollers.

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