And as one new mom also writes: "I don't know if I am being overly paranoid but I have an appointment at the passport agency that I must go to in CT at ten am next week and I am totally afraid to do the drive alone with the baby. I am comfy driving normally (without the baby) in NYC and on highways, but this freaks me out. Any advice from driving parents out there?"
Does these new moms sound like you?
Practice somewhere quiet & ease in with a friend:
"I think everyone who has had a fender bender or who isn't driving regularly is prone to be nervous. I have a few suggestion based on my own experience.
The first is, if you can, get yourself to someplace outside of the city but not in New Jersey or Long Island (unless you are really, really far away from the city like Orient Point or on the Pennsylvania border for NJ). Drive around with the kids A LOT. Do it over a weekend or a vacation if you can. In a relatively calmer environment you can relax and get your confidence back.
The second is to do some trips by yourself in the city in the car - not at rush hour - until you feel more at ease driving in the city. Finally, when you do drive with the kids in the city, have someone with you at first. Its not for their sake but for yours.The reality is if one of your kids is upset you can always pull over some where and park with it when it's safe to do. The sound of crying babies is really hard but you don't need to drop everything to deal with it and you can't if you're driving. Once I just accepted that and the fact that there's not a lot that can happen to a child in a car seat, I found it MUCH easier to manage the driving thing.
Make your safer for Baby:
"On a practical note, there are mirror sets that you can buy to keep an eye on your child in the car. you put on on the dashboard or your sun visor and the other attaches to your back seat and between the set you can see your child. it helps because if they do get upset you can check and be reassured that it's not urgent and then feel better about waiting a few minutes to pull over if you have to.
Also, I always secured my car seat right in the middle of the car, rather than behind one of the front seats. It's safer in a side crash But also, you have some ability to reach behind you and hand your child a toy or pacifier or bottle or snacktrap,etc. if you need to.
Confront your fears and practice, practice, practice:
"I too was a nervous driver before having children so I was not keen to drive once I had my first baby. And it didn't help matters that my baby cried the entire time in the car if we were in stop and go traffic - which is pretty much all of the driving around here. But like the poster - I didn't have a choice so I took a deep breath and I did it.
What I found was that I would be nervous but I would simultaneously drive better and be alert. I would really be nervous - heart pounding, sweating, etc., but I didn't let it stop me.
I just kind of let my baby cry for as long as I could take it and then I would pull over so I could check on her. I would not turn around while I was driving or even reach back, I had the mirror but I also didn't want to take my eyes off the road for a good look. After a fashion, I became less and less nervous and started to become a good, confident driver and a great parallel parker! Now I love driving and feel good when my kids are in my car because I know that they are as safe as can be in a motor vehicle. I know it's scary but you can improve your skills for the sake of the safety of your children. You can also take a brush up lesson or two if you think that could help to give you more confidence"
Talk to the PROS!
"I'd also like to highly (HIGHLY) recommend booking an appointment with The Car Seat Lady. $75 for a one hour private lesson. We just came back from our lesson and I was tearing up because I felt so much better about having the baby in the car. It is a wonderful service."
For contact information and to read more about what PSP members have to say about The Car Seat Lady, go here.
Wait until your little one is older and can be kept amused and quiet in the car:
"I say wait till the kid/s are older and more communicative before driving alone with them. I always found it incredibly distracting to drive alone with my kids before they were at least age 3 and could be somewhat reasoned with, or listened to stories on CD etc. A couple of times I found myself doing stupid things like handing food backwards while driving etc. Instead I would find someone who wanted a lift somewhere and make them co-pilot or I'd take a train etc. Like all the lifestyle crippling parts of babydom, it ends sooner than you think."
Drive slow and defensively:
"Fear not--you are not alone. I joke that rather than the Baby in Car signs, they should make New Parent in Car signs. My advice, or rather what worked for me, was to drive as slowly and safely and defensively as you need to, and to not feel bullied by the other drivers who may ride your tail or honk at you or gesticulate in that charming way. Strap you and your child in safely and drive that car the way that *you* need to."
"No one can make you feel like an inferior driver without your permission" --Eleanor Roosevelt.
Some Dos & Donts:
I did too, being an ok California only driver who has driven 2x here. We just did a road trip to cape may nj. I would recommend: a GPS that you program parked in the car-no kids. Remove all distractions for yourself. No phone near you. Do not under any circumstance touch the GPS while the car is on. No food for the kids while driving (choking). You just have to go slow and concentrate and Totally ignore the kids. Let them cry. They will be fine until you can pull Over safely. Dont talk to them until you are on a roll. Bicyclists here in bklyn and jaywalkers are much worse than the cars and they come out of no where. You just have to really focus and do nothing but be the driver. Let people honk.I would recommend NOT having a mirror to see the baby in. You think it will be reassuring, but I think its way too distracting. As the above poster said, as long as you keep choking hazards away from them, there is not much that can go wrong. I don't drive with my daughter by myself too much, but when I do, I just remind myself that suburban parents do it all the time several times a day."
Put your attention focused on the road, not distracted by Baby:
"The baby will be ok (especially if YOUR attention is on the road, not the baby!) In addition to the suggestions already given, I would suggest at some point taking a defensive driving course (maybe not something you have time and energy for now, but eventually). My own mother pretty much quit driving when I was fairly small because she was scared to drive with me and my brother in the car, and then never went back to it, which has become a problem lately as she and my father get older (they had to rely on help from friends – some of whom are worse drivers – for months when he had cataract surgery, followed by complications). I've been there and with 2 toddlers and on a holiday weekend drive back up from VA! On this particular ride back to Brooklyn, I took Route 1 up, instead of the highway, and made several stops, about 5-6 to stretch our legs and get air. Total drive took 8 hours. But they were calm and not screaming (are we there yet).