I never realized before I had children that there was need to put such thought into where I park the car. I went to a couple stores today and realized, as I scanned the possible parking spaces, there are a lot of factors that go into my decision making process.
If you don’t have kids, there are basically two types of parking personalities. I was the first open spot kind of personality. I really didn’t care if it was close. I could walk a few extra feet. I just wanted to park and get into the store as quickly as possible. My husband was the other personality.
The annoying kind The as close as humanly possible kind of parker. He would circle the lot, passing empty spots he deemed too far. He’d follow someone from the store to their close spot, turn his blinker on and sit and wait while they loaded their car while there was an empty spot two spaces away. Then he would gloat about how close he got and how I would have taken that other spot and had to walk six more feet.
When Samantha was young, it didn’t much matter. We kept our parking personalities. Since we live in California, I didn’t feel the need to park as close as possible to keep her out of the cold. And since she was little, she didn’t fuss about circling the parking lot fifteen times in hunt of the perfect spot. So Sean hunted.
Then she started wanting to walk and fussing over car rides. And Ella came into the picture, then Penny. And the parking situation got tricky. Here are some of the factors that go into my decision making process.
The parent to child ratio.
A one to one ratio. Easy. Do whatever. Everyone can handle one child in a parking lot no problem.
A two to one, or heaven forbid three to one, ratio. Then it’s time for some serious strategy.
Do you have a baby carrier? A stroller? You can park farther away. If you can effectively contain the situation so you have a one to one ratio or all your children somehow strapped in, no problem. If there is no containment, park close.
Length of Expedition
This needs to be factored in along with the containment device. Is it a quick trip into a small grocery store for some cheese? And you have containment? Park as far as you’d like. If you’re going to Target, or God help you, a toy store for a birthday present not for your child, park close and you better have containment. Otherwise, it’s time to abort the mission.
How many bags will you have to carry, along with your children? Are you gong to have a shopping cart (this can be included in the containment devices)? If you’re going to be weighed down, you better be close. If you have a shopping cart, parking near one of those shopping cart corrals might be a good idea.
Lastly, you need to consider how you will get everyone into and out of the car. Are the cars next to you parked on the line? You’re bound to hit them with your door since, with children, car doors must be open as wide as possible. Is your spot close so that when you come out, you’ll be surrounded and maybe have to have the kids climb in through the trunk to get into their seats? This is never a good idea with an SUV. They figure out quickly they can get out of your reach and there’s no way for you to pull them into their seats until they’re good and ready.
I have found my ideal spot is generally in the middle, with no surrounding cars, and ideally right next to a shopping cart corral. Where’s your favorite place to park? Did I miss any important factors?
** Photo by Lower Colombia College via Flickr