*I wrote this post in November 2013.
So this will be a post of mostly questions, not answers. When it comes to leaving the kids in the car, what’s acceptable? What’s not acceptable?
Can I leave the kiddos in the car during a quick stop at the neighbours? What about when I need to pick up milk, eggs, and cheese at the grocery store? Can I leave them in the car if they are sleeping? What about if they’re awake? Can I leave them in the car if they’re watching Bambi or Barney? Can I leave them in the car if they’re not watching anything? Can I leave them in the car in Hudson Bay? What about if I am in Tisdale? Or Saskatoon? Can I leave them in the car if I lock the doors? What if I don’t lock the doors? Should I lock the doors? Can I leave one in the car while I drop the other one off at daycare? Can I leave them in the car if I keep the car running? What about if I shut the car off? Can I leave them in the car while I go pay for my gas? Can I leave them in the car as long as I can see the car? What if I can’t see the car? Is it okay to leave them in the car if they want to stay in the car?
Some of the answers to these questions are obvious … don’t leave your child in the car (without it running) on a hot day, for example. But MANY of these questions don’t have a clear-cut answer.
If you have kids, you know why I (or any other parent) might have the urge to leave them in the car, especially during a quick stop. There’s the hassle of unbuckling and then re-buckling them into their carseat (multiply this by the number of children you have). There’s the fact that carrying around a twenty-pounder in a bucket carseat totally stinks. Then, of course, there is the unbearable slow-poke-itis that some pre-schoolers are equipped with (or on the opposite end of the spectrum … the bouncing off the wall, grabbing everything in sight toddler characteristic). A two minute stop quickly turns into a ten minute (or even longer) stop. Perhaps, you even get to experience a meltdown or two.
Of course, their is also the other side of the spectrum … your child is sleeping peacefully (for once) in his/her carseat, and ruffling him/her out of the vehicle will undoubtedly lead to A LOT of crying. And frankly, you’ve heard enough crying for one day. In fact, when your child is crying, you lack the ability to think straight or make sound decisions.
For me, as a mother of two, I will say, I have left my children in the car. In fact, I left my child/children in the car today during three of my five stops. Now, as far as I know, there are no laws (where I live) regarding this issue (not that a law is required to do the ‘right’ thing), but I do know my own personal “leaving the children in the car” limits. Yes, I do it in Hudson Bay, on occasion, but no, I would definitely not do it in Saskatoon (or even Tisdale). I do it for “quick stops,” and I do like to be able to keep an eye on the car.
In my case, I feel like I am not overly afraid of what could happen to my children while being left alone in the car (I could make myself crazy thinking of the possibilities), but I am really afraid of the judgement of those around me … other mothers, the grocery store clerk, the gas jockey …
And again I can’t help but wonder … Why do we spend soooooo much time worrying about what others think? Why do we spend sooooo much energy justifying the choices we make as parents? Who is judging? It … feels … like … everyone.