One question I get asked a lot now that I am expecting baby number 3 is what new car we will be getting. It comes in second after I am asked if I am having a boy or girl.
I tossed around in my mind the idea of selling one of our cars in order to purchase a minivan. After the stresses of the winter before last, I am totally sure I need an all-wheel drive vehicle. I don't have a driveway and I am not willing to struggle with a shovel trying to dig myself in and out of parking spaces with three kids in tow only to have someone who doesn't even live on the block, take the spot. The only all-wheel drive minivan currently on the market is the Toyota Sienna. I drive an '05 Subaru Outback wagon and I really do like the car. It gets good gas mileage, has plenty of cargo room, and best of all, is an all-wheel drive vehicle but still a car. Even with selling my car (which is in very good condition and has less than 45,000 miles on it), we would have to come up with a significant amount of money to afford a Sienna that had a decent amount of miles on it. A 2005 Toyota Sienna with 50,000 miles on it is running about $19,000. The Blue Book value for my car is about $12,500. Add to that the fact that the hubby would prefer to get rid of his Toyota Corolla (2002 with 60,000 miles on it) instead because the Subaru is all-wheel drive and is good for hauling things. For the Corolla, we could probably expect to get $6,000 at most. No way that could cover the price of any minivan at all unless we look to get one with well over 80,000 miles on it, definitely not all-wheel drive or one with a salvage title (which my insurance company would not insure—I checked). So it really doesn't make sense to sell our cars in order to purchase “new” ones because realistically, our cars are already paid for and are therefore worth more to us in our possession.
The fact of the matter is that the Subaru comfortably fits our family of four. It will not so comfortably fit a family of five.
I've done a bit of research so far and what I have found is that it is indeed possible to fit three carseats across in a Subaru Outback but the car seats are very specific. In the outboard position will be 2 Diono RadianR120 seats—super narrow seats. In the middle will be a Graco Snugride (or possibly a Combi Corcorro but I would prefer a bucket seat for easy transportation in the early weeks) which are also very narrow seats. The seats will fit really tightly but they will fit. It will be a bit of maneuvering if I need to get the baby out to nurse or something and the boys are in their seats. But the most important thing is that it is possible. Also, it will only be a few years before Z1 will not need a car seat and so for that reason, we will not be getting another car.
This car thing is something I've spent lots of time thinking about—along with other “space” accommodations that sometimes make me worry about if we are doing the right thing considering our resources by bringing another little one into the world. I'm reminded that many folks have done great things for a large number of children in a family on a small budget. And that three is not that large a number, considering. I try to remember that a lot of the givens in childhood today are not really requirements but extras that don't really make or break a childhood. Still at the same time, there's still the very real desire to give one's children more. And so I think about it. Can't help it. Even though fitting car seats into a car is really, really a first world problem. I'm reminded of our trip to Ghana where we were lucky to have seat belts much less carseats and how most babies traveled on their mother's backs—on motorcycles or in cars. I think about how my mother basically held my baby brother in the front seat on all our car trips. We all survived. It's not that I don't think carseats save lives and are the safest option for traveling with children but I do believe that in a way, it's all a real hustle. In order to fit three carseats comfortably into a car, it must be bigger. Just like everything else in our society, it seems.
Anyway, the Graco Snugride already has arrived. I'm waiting for Amazon to ship the other two seats. All in all, the seats cost about $600 which is very reasonable compared to buying a new car. I was anxious to get the seats because I am the official car seat installer in our family (since I actually read instruction manuals) and I wanted to get them in before I get too big. I am hoping to sell the boys' current car seats at a local consignment store and buying some other things the baby will need.
I am also hoping to get the car hard-wired so it can play my Ipod through the car's speakers (and not through that radio receptor thing which never worked well) and to get a hitch installed for a bike rack.