This is another in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Rachel Jonat from The Minimalist Mom. Rachel shares her real-life experiences of family life without the family car.
Guest post by Rachel Jonat
When I announced I was pregnant with my first child one of the many follow-up questions I received was, will you be getting a new car?
We had a 12-year-old vehicle at the time that, while not exciting or new, ran just fine. Our emphatic answer was no. At that point I knew very little about the demands of a newborn, but I did know that our son would not care what car we were driving.
Fast forward a year and a few months and we decided to get rid of our car altogether. This news was met with congratulations from some and shock from others: How can you have a child and no car?
It’s pretty easy. I’ll tell you how.
We found alternate ways to get around. Alternate ways that are better for our health, finances and the environment. We walk, stroll, bike, take public transit and still occasionally drive. The car was sold, our condo parking stall was rented out for $75 a month and we joined ZipCar. We live in an urban area and there are a few dozen ZipCar vehicles within a ten-minute walk of our home. If a car is necessary I can easily book a car online and be out and driving within 20 minutes.
Sure, there are some drawbacks. We have to install the car seat each time we use a vehicle and that takes some time and muscle. The upside is that I am now a pro at putting a car seat in any type of vehicle. We also now know exactly what driving costs us right down to the penny. It hasn’t stopped us from visiting family farther afield but it has made us creative with getting errands done. We grocery shop locally and frequently and whatever we buy has to fit in the bottom of the stroller or a backpack.
The greatest thing getting rid of our vehicle has done for me is slowed life down. It’s nice to walk places and build time in to my day to enjoy the getting there part of an errand. My son is now 14 months and I like that I can take him out of a carrier or stroller and hold his hand and walk. Sure, it takes ten minutes to move half a block, but we both get a lot out of it. He explores and I get to hold that fleetingly tiny hand and watch. You don’t get those moments driving.
I’m told we will reconsider being a car-less family once our son is older or we have more children. I’m told modern parenting is an exhausting cycle of running from place to place and that a car is the only way to get it all done. I hope not. Friends of ours have been without a car for seven years and they have three daughters. For most of the seven years they lived in Europe where it’s common to be without a car. Sure, most families local to me have a vehicle but there are millions of families in other cities using buses, bikes, and their feet to get around. Should I need more inspiration and resolve to stay a car-free family I need only to look across the Atlantic.
Rachel Jonat is a minimalist and AP mama living the car-free life in Vancouver, Canada. After donating and selling half of her belongings, she's found more room and time in her life for herself and her family. She blogs about minimalist living with kids at The Minimalist Mom.