Ask the Moms, Part 13 – the twinmobile

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Of the many, many things that you must have double of when your twins arrive, one non-negotiable is rear-facing carseats. Immediately, a lesson in: how can two such tiny people require such large… stuff? All of this stuff, in particular those carseats, often lead twin parents-to-be to contemplate the purchase of a new car. Oh, but what to do? Cave in to the call of the minivan? Rage against the dying of the light and get a small SUV? Get creative and find a way to keep the sedan? All of these things are possible, and everyone finds their own way to make it work. The HDYDI moms are no exception. We run the gamut from Toyota Corolla to Chrysler Town & Country and back again.

First, you have to think about how much driving you actually do. If you live in a more urban environment that lends itself to a lot of walking, or maybe you telecommute or live close to work and daycare. In that case, you can probably make a smaller car work just fine about 95% of the time. Though the infant carseats take up a lot of space, remember that they’re only rear-facing (the biggest space hog) for the first year or so. Once they’re forward-facing in those convertible carseats, they won’t jam into the driver’s seat quite as badly (of course, then they’ll start kicking you, but that’s another story). On the other hand, if you know that you do a lot of driving, you’re really going to have to make sure you can comfortably fit yourself, your kids, and all of their stuff into that car. Remember there is, at the very least, a double stroller to contend with. Forget about the times you have to bring two pack & plays with you… or luggage… or the dogs…

The truth of the matter is that there’s lots of good options to be had, and everyone has a different set of priorities. Here’s some options, with a few pros and cons:

The Minivan

I know, I know. You’re still in your 20s, a first-time mom. Way too cool for a minivan. You just can’t bring yourself to do it. Believe me when I say there are a number of converts amongst the HDYDI moms. Myself, included (yes, that’s me at 34 weeks pregnant with my new van…). Oh, how I love my dual power sliding doors and power rear liftgate. I call it robo-car, as I walk towards it and hit all of the buttons on my remote. Those doors are really great, especially when you have an infant carrier in each arm, and the people who parked on either side of you have gotten a bit cozy. You can configure the seats a bunch of different ways, as most models have the third row that folds down flat, or the captain’s chairs that disappear into the floor or are easily removed. Tons of space for carseats, strollers, luggage, groceries, and a dog or two (not that my mini schnauzer takes up much space, but still). Yes, it’s a big honkin’ car, and you’ll feel uber-suburban when you first drive it. But you’ll never go back…

On the downside, they are generally not great on gas mileage, and I don’t know of any hybrid minivans on the market. Only one (the Toyota Sienna) has available AWD. They are fairly big, though some are a little more compact (the Mazda, in particular). And even in a minivan, if you have two rear-facing carseats, you will not be able to get in the sliding door and into the 3rd row of seats. My solution? I always have at least one side of the 60/40 third row folded down. I take advantage of my fancy power liftgate and my own mother will get in through the back and sit in the 3rd row so she can talk to the kids on the way home from the airport. 😉

And if you already have another child or are thinking of having another one in the lifetime of this car purchase, the minivan is really the way to go. It gets VERY hard to put a 3rd carseat in any other type of car.

The SUV

Most twin moms I know, who can’t bear to go the minivan route, go with the SUV. The smaller SUVs are generally better on gas mileage, obviously, but check to see the size of that back seat and how cramped you’ll be sitting in front. The full-sized SUVs will not have that problem as much. The nice part is that you still have the large trunk for plenty of storage space. Everyone can sit pretty comfortably, and there are tons of bells and whistles to be had. You can likely get 4WD/AWD for those who live in climates where winter is an issue. There are also a number of hybrid SUVs coming on the market, including Ford and Toyota. Some of the larger SUVs also have the option for a third row of seating, but know that the third row may never be used while you have kids in carseats. Check the configuration, but it may be nearly impossible to get back there. Still, though, some have a 3rd row that folds flat, so you have a larger trunk space, but the row is there if you really needed it.

Cons include the fact that some SUVs are quite high off the ground, so you have to really lift that carseat up high to get it into the base, not to mention get the stroller into the back. And, obviously, gas mileage can be a real issue with some of them. This is less of a problem with the small SUVs, or something like the Subaru Forester, but there’s of course a tradeoff with less space.

The Sedan

There’s nothing that says you can’t put two carseats in a mid-sized or large sedan. Models vary widely, so definitely check to see how big the backseat is. But since nearly all cars since 2001 are required to have LATCH connectors for carseats, you don’t necessarily need to ditch the car you already have. Just because you have two babies on the way doesn’t mean you’re required to have a big car! Many sedans have nice, roomy backseats, and even a respectably-sized trunk that can fit most double strollers (though perhaps consider some of the ones that fold up particularly compactly). If you have a sedan that will fit those carseats without having your knees above the steering wheel, and it has a good trunk, there’s no reason you can’t take the kids all over, and even make a trip to the grocery store. You can also consider getting a hatchback or wagon, which doesn’t much change the seating configuration, but does make for a little more trunk space.

On the other hand, in many sedans, space will be very tight, especially for people over about 5’6″. You won’t be able to haul as much stuff around (maybe that’s not such a bad thing?), and the dog is going to stay home. And, as LauraC said, “riding in the back between the two Roundabouts is the ULTIMATE bitch seat.” :-)

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Goodbye, Graco

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Another day, another milestone in my house! Daniel in SnugRideSaturday, after returning home from our new Sign & Sing class, I removed our trusty Graco SnugRide carseat bases from the minivan. I had been leaving the seats themselves in the car for the last week or so. It has just become too heavy and cumbersome to lug them in and out of the house with the babies in them. While the kids aren’t particularly close to the stated size limits (22lbs and/or 29in), it just felt like time to be done with them. Maybe if I had just one kid I’d hold onto it longer… but not with two.

[As an aside, I can’t imagine purposefully getting one of the seats with even higher size limits… not only are the seats, themselves, even heavier, but lugging a 30-lb baby around in a carrier?! Good lord!]

This also, of course, means saying a fond farewell to our Double Snap N Go. Ah, the Snap N Go. My constant companion. You just can’t beat having a carseat stroller frame. It literally was used almost every day. It has gotten to the point, though, that I have sort of a love-hate relationship with it. Convenient and essential though it was, it also drives like a bus and can be kind of awkward and clunky.

Rebecca in MarathonTaking the place of the old equipment are two Britax Marathons (purchased on sale from Amazon.com last month, at a better price than Babies R Us, even with the twin discount), which are enormous but should last us a good 3+ years. For the stroller, we’ve been using our Peg-Pérego Aria Twin off and on all along, but now it’s the primary go-to set of wheels. The best part about it is that it’s quite lightweight. The downside, as is the case with many standard strollers, is that it can’t handle much more than flat, dry, unobstructed pavement. I’m not much of an outdoorsy-type, but I do like to take nice walks and could see the benefit of a more terrain-friendly stroller. So, I’m stalking Craigslist to see if I can find something (the Mountain Buggy Urban Double, if I’m lucky) for a more reasonable price than the $650+ for a new one.

Daniel & Rebecca are outgrowing (physically and developmentally) a bunch of things recently. The swing hasn’t been used in nearly two months, bouncy seats even longer. And today, we wave goodbye to their main mode of transport for the last eight months. In truth, we’ll use them once more when we fly to Florida in two weeks, but that’s the last of it. I have an email partially composed, ready to send to my MOT club listserv, to unload all of this baby gear on someone else. It has been good to us, and it’s all still in darn good condition, but I’m ready to see it go. There’s plenty of other stuff taking up space in our house right now.

If I sit and think about it, it’s a little bit bittersweet to think that my babies aren’t such little babies anymore. Coming home from the hospitalI think about how tiny they used to be in those carseats they’re now outgrowing. I think about how the Snap N Go was a lifesaver, that I wouldn’t have been able to leave the house without it in those early weeks and months. But then I remember what those first weeks and months were like. And I quickly snap out of it and remember how much happier I am now, with fun and nearly-mobile eight-month-olds, than in the hazy, hellish days of eight-week-olds. Yeah… see you later, newborn stuff!

Cross-posted at Goddess in Progress

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