Being a mom can be stressful in so many ways. You’re always worried about something—Have my kids had enough to eat? Are they sleeping enough? Why are they so irritable? Why do I feel like I’m crazy?—It’s not an easy job for anyone.
Driving may be one of the more stressful things. Not only are you trying to keep your eyes on the road and be aware of other drivers, but there could also be one or two (or more!) children who are vying for your attention. Here is a list of ways to help you drive safer with your kids in tow.
This is the best and first thing you should do once you’re in the car. Make sure everyone is buckled up and then buckle up yourself. There’s a reason it’s a law because it has saved countless lives. Research the best car seat brands and how to use the car seat and ensure that your child is buckled in correctly every single time.
Check the weather before you go. If it’s snowing or raining, and you don’t have to go out, then just don’t. Most things can wait.
If you’re going on a long drive, be sure to attach toys to your child’s car seat so you won’t have to reach down for a dropped toy. If your children are in booster car seats, hang shoe storage on the back of the front seats and fill it with toys or books that will keep older kids entertained. Children are unpredictable, but trying to plan ahead can sometimes curb those distractions once the vehicle is moving.
Before you get into your car, check around the car to make sure no kids or toys are behind the car. One of the best investments you can make is in a backup camera if your car doesn’t come equipped with one. These cameras see things you can’t see by just turning your head, and could be lifesaving.
Get regular oil changes and get your tires rotated and checked regularly. Never let your gas tank get below half-full so as to avoid being stuck on the side of the freeway stranded with no gas. Head to the car wash and vacuum regularly to keep everything running properly. These annoying little tasks could help avoid a disaster that would be infinitely worse with kids.
Take your time getting to your destination. There’s no hurry, even if the kids are screaming or crying in the back. It’s OK to stay in the slow lane. Keep your distance too. Tailgating cuts down on your reaction time. Use a landmark like a tree or a pole and count to at least three to gauge how closely you can follow the car ahead of you.
It can be tempting to make phone calls or respond to texts at a stoplight, but it is not worth the risk. Most people do not expect an immediate answer. Avoid eating meals or doing anything that distracts from the task at hand—keeping your eyes on the road. Put on the music or audiobook before you start driving. If any noise is distracting, it’s okay to keep things quiet. Sometimes there’s a certain peace in the stillness.
If you get nervous or stressed about driving, take a defensive driving course. These courses will help refresh you on the rules of the road and help you feel confident in your abilities as a capable driver.