Photo Caption: Hartle kids bundeled up in winter gear with Mom’s cane waiting
behind them at the door.
Winter is finally upon us. Well, the holidays are over and while I contemplated writing this on Dec. 21, it just didn’t seem right to spoil the holidays with talk of cold, dreary days ahead. Thankfully, our winter season where we live hasn’t been too bad thus far, but we’re about to get slammed with several rough weeks. In fact, as I write this, we are anticipating our first real snow storm of the season. Last night my children participated in several snow making rituals—throwing ice out the front door, flushing ice down the toilet, sleeping with a spoon under their pillow, and wearin
g their pajamas backwards and inside out to ensure a successful snow fall. (Not exactly sure where all these strange customs come from except to say they learned it at school.) In any case, while there are a lot of fun things about winter, and the thought of snuggling up in doors with a good book or movie and some hot coco is great for a day or two, the reality is that winter can be a bit rough when you don’t drive and still have everyday life tasks to carry out amidst cold temps, uncovered sidewalks, and slushy puddles. Sure, I could hibernate in my house all season, but that’s not really practical, nor would my children or I enjoy it. So, over the years I’ve learned a few things for navigating in cold weather with children. I talk about this in more detail in an upcoming episode of Everyday Blind Parents, so check it out for more ideas. But for the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some of my suggestions for traveling around in winter.
Sure, it would be nice just to take a ride everywhere, and if you have that luxury, great. But if you don’t and still want to maintain some independence in getting where you want, when you want, and without inconvenience to your spouse, family member, friend, or neighbor, or without having to work around or wait on someone else’s schedule, you’ll still need to use public transportation, and ride services in the winter. It would be great just to take Lyft or Uber everywhere too, but not every budget will allow for that, so here are some ideas:
- Be creative with ride use. Use rides when you can, but think about saving your “ride chips” up for extreme weather days and supplement this with public transit on less rough or cold days.
- Exchange favors like babysitting, making dinner, buying lunch, or errand-running for a friend or neighbor for rides to/from places.
- Team up with a friend to run your errands at the same time he/she is going
- Subscribe to online delivery services (if you haven’t yet done so). See a list of other helpful online services here.)
- Carpool-If you take your children to school/extra curriculars via public transit or by walking, email the parents of your child’s classmates and ask if another parent would be willing to pick up your child for a few weeks while the weather is rough.
- Adjust your budget to allow for more use of services like Lyft and Uber (e.g., have a ride share freeze time in the spring and fall so that you can save up for more extreme weather conditions, or cut out weekly trips to Star bucks or fast food places)in order to allow for a bit more discretionary income.
- Don’t forget that public transportation is still a viable option, but be prepared with the right gear to keep you warm and allow you to travel with your children to/from your destination.
Photo Caption: J and K trying to walk down the driveway in a foot of snow
- Make use of transit aps (like the “Next Bus App”) that show real time wait times and that allow you to purchase tickets through them. This will minimize how long you have to wait outdoors if you can see when the bus is coming, and don’t have to stop to purchase a ticket (i.e., you can wait inside a local business near the bus stop, stay at work a little longer, or leave your house a little later if you know the arrival times in real time.
- Teach your children not to put their feet on the seats of cars (i.e. uber and lyft vehicles) and train them not to drag their boosters on the sidewalk or driveway in rainy and snowy conditions. (As my children have gotten older, they’ve learned to carry their own seat.) This will help you avoid muddy footprints and extra expensive cleaning fees on your fare. Trust me! My kids have become pros at knowing not to drag their booster seats down a sidewalk or driveway when it’s rainy or snowy.
- Carry a plastic trash bag to set your car seat onto if you need to set it on the ground thus avoiding getting the car seat wet or muddy prior to installing it in a vehicle, or don’t be afraid to ask the driver to hold it or place it in another part of the vehicle until you’re ready to install it.
Hope these ideas are helpful. Let me know what other transportation tips you’ve found helpful in the winter months. More to come !