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.