A few weeks ago, my sister and I decided to bring all three girls to a birthday party two hours away. Recently, our cousins moved within day trip distance, they have kids close in age, and we love knowing that the kids can grow up knowing each other well. So while we wouldn't normally drive two hours through a major city for a birthday party, in this particular case we were excited to make the trip.
As we planned when to leave, where to stop en route, who would bring the coffee, we realized we had another road trip situation.
She drives a five seat car. I drive a five seat car. Actually, we drive the same car. And this car has an issue we hadn't thought about.
We can't fit three kids in car seats in the backseat. Five people, five seats...and somehow the math still doesn't work. I asked around and found that this is a pretty common problem with most carseats and most backseats. Car seats are big, and if you have one on each side, there isn't much room in the middle. I didn't think that every family with three kids had to own a three row SUV or a minivan, but in my straw poll, that seemed to be the only way families could make it work.
So as we planned our trip, it looked like our choices were either to take two cars (which seemed stupid), rent a bigger car (which seemed stupid), or start experimenting with how to fit three children in a backseat, safely and comfortably.
We were able to make it work with minimal stress. I did know that child could comfortably fit in the middle seat without a car seat. I'm usually out of the car pool rotation because of this car seat/backseat situation, but on rare occasions when it's necessary I've made it work for older kids who meet the requirements to be out of a booster. Madison still uses a high back car seat, but technically she meets the requirements to be in a regular booster. So all we had to do was fit a booster seat in the middle. It took a few tries and some measuring, but we finally found the Bubble Bum. It's only 13 inches, so it squeezed right into the middle and kept the seat belt positioned correctly, and we had a great road trip.
But the whole situation got me thinking - what are some options for moms who can't, or don't want, to upgrade their car, but need to engineer a way to get three kids sitting safely in a standard backseat. I did some research and I found that the puzzle can be solved with some up front thinking when you're car seat shopping. There's a slew of seats that can fit three across - just be ready with some measurements and some basic math (and a plan for helping that middle child buckle!)
We made it work once, and now we know we can! When we head off to our next adventure, we'll road trip it again!