Monday, January 12, 2009

One car family

Gabe and I have decided that, at least for now, we're going to be a one car family again. We don't want to be rushed into buying a second car, especially since we have a very limited amount of cash to buy it with, (total loss payments are NOT what the car is worth!!) and we're wondering if it would make more sense to use the money to pay off our van quicker instead. We never intended or expected to have a monthly car payment, and while we're grateful that the loan was available when we needed it, we do not like living with it, and want to pay it off, well, yesterday. :)

Regardless of if we choose to do that, we're pretty sure that right now is not the right time for us to buy a second car. I personally feel that God has been preparing me for this; leading me in this direction for some months (since Josiah was born, really). I have been methodically attempting to simplify our daily life, eliminating or combining errands in an attempt to keep us at home more. Part of this was a result of the craziness of doing errands with three children in tow: when you factor buckling, unbuckling, and buckling three children at every stop, and walking at the pace of the smallest legs, ANY errand becomes a 45 minute excursion. And you can't stack too many of those when you need to be home in time for various naps! Also, as Josiah gets older he can't just sleep where he sits as easily, and when I disrupt his naps my sweet, happy baby becomes much less happy. Overall, I had noticed that the more days I spent "out and about" during the week, the less home-making happened and the less happy we all were.

So as of Tuesday evening, we will be a one car family. We think that Gabe will be able to telecommute on Thursdays, allowing us to make it to the park for Mom's Group, which I think will be important for Jonathan's pleasure and my sanity. :) Other than that, we'll be at home or within walking distance of home.

Today I had a list of "last minute" errands I wanted to get done ahead of the Day In Which We Shall Have No Car. But we all woke up sick. Nasty, uncomfortable colds. No one wants to go anywhere, thank you very much. So we are staying at home today. And it is good.

Instead of errands, we've done laundry, colored train pictures, built with duplos, and built a huge brio train track (complete with cardboard tunnel) while listening to the Music Machine. In the midst of that, I've been working on updating our budget online, a weekly chore that has been sadly neglected for nearly a month. I've discovered something wonderful: if I do my computer work on the laptop I can sit right with the boys in the midst of their play, and be much more available to them even while working on something boring and adult. The result is that I can get some work done without the frustration of kids fighting or always calling me away, which is what always happens when I sit at my desk at the regular computer. Amber, I appreciated the hand-me-down laptop years ago when you guys gave it to us, but now I am REALLY appreciating it. :)

We're sick, and we're all existing on tylenol, but it is a good day, and that makes me very hopeful that taking the stress of errands out of the day to day pattern will make our life a lot more pleasant.

In the interest of making this a success, could you all leave your best suggestion for smooth at-home days? I would love to hear them!


Jessica said...

Hey, Emily. I'm sorry you'll be carless most days, but I hope it ends up being as much of a blessing to you as our RSV quarantine has (in its odd ways) been to us.

btw, do you think maybe the colds are actually allergies? The Santa Anas have been something else, and I often get sniffly during them just 'cause of all the dust and such in the air.

At home days . . . mine tend to move smoothest when I just do the next thing - which entail knowing what the next thing is. So, I try to think through the next four or five steps in my day as I'm working on the current one, just to keep us all moving along smoothly. The other part, for me, seems to be prioritizing the kids over the to-do list. So, it's sort of this weird balance of letting the to-do list provide the bones of the day, and the interaction with the kids provide the meat. If that makes any sense. I try to keep myself able to flow between the two.

And, having throughly mixed my metaphors (either that, or made a really disgusting one), I will leave you. :) Seriously, though, I hope it goes well, and gives you time and space and peace in which to recenter after Josiah's birth and newborn period. May your footing be found, and be found in a pleasant place.

Amber said...

Wow, that's so cool that the laptop is still working! My laptop from that same generation died years ago.

As for making at home days manageable... I agree with Jessica in that having a general idea of what's next (and next and next) is very useful. I also find that some time spent outdoors is also very important! Homeschooling creates a lot of structure for our mornings, but if I don't have a general plan at least for the afternoon things can get ugly. I try to alternate between stuff with the kids and stuff on my todo list, so as to keep everyone reasonably content.

Ma Torg said...

As a family with currently NO car, I can totally relate. I will warn you, though: prepare for just feeling TRAPPED somedays.

The girls and I one day sat together and made an Activity Chart. We first made a list of all the different things we/they like to do (play with Pollies, dress up clothes, bake cookies, read, etc)and then we drew pictures of these activities around a circle like numbers on a clock. We put a little 'clock hand' in the middle and we use the Activity Chart as a guide for daily activities. It is nice because it provides visual structure as well as serve as a reminder for ALL THE THINGS YOU CAN DO!

Another big thing is I try to invite over the few friends I have here: Make your house a center. When you can't go outside: bring the outside in.

Lastly, prayer. Use this time to try to develop your more contemplative side. I try. It is a struggle. But it helps in the grander struggle.

Linds said...

I'm so sorry for the circumstances that caused it, but I think it's a neat thing to cut back to one car. My brother and his wife had to do it after a nasty wreck totaled their car last year, and Nate and I have been trying to voluntarily cut back on things like that just because (1) it's a stewardship issue, for sure! and (2) it helps us keep our thoughts and desires realigned to biblical bases and away from marketed consumerized ones. We found we were just way too into stuff, and cutting back has been nice for lots of reasons, not the least of which is feeling much more productive. :)

As for at home days... well, all I've got is a puppy, so I'm not much help. If any of your boys like to play fetch, I have some great tips...

ruth said...

I'm past this stage, but things I remember are:
(1) Plan at least one "special" thing to do each day, that the kids can look forward to... even if it is cleaning out a closet and discovereing what has been in there.
(2) I tried to model "work before play" (ask me if this was successful--no, maybe don't). But we did use it to set a sort of routine--chores and activities in the morning; you know, make the beds and shine the sinks and start a load of laundry. When we were done, we'd try to get outside to play or go for a walk and get an appetite for lunch. After lunch it was story time, and then naptime. During naptime, I had my devotions, and when I was faithful, God multiplied my time. after naptime, we had "tea"--which was really snacktime, but I made it substantial (fruit and cheese and cookies and milk) because my husband worked until 7 and we ate dinner late. Following "tea", I had to try to make dinner. I often used PBS or videos in order to accomplish that. It was the worst time of day. I called it "the witching hour"--crabby kids and the waiting, waiting, waiting for Dad to come home. After dinner my husband would play with the kids (rile them up, really!) and give them their baths and chase them around the house (they played a game called "moster soup" where he would catch them and "stir them up" in the middle of our bed) while I cleaned the kitchen. Then, wonder of wonders, it was bedtime, which meant stories, songs and prayers, a lengthy routine that they loved and looked forward to. We did not accomplish this every day, but the days it happened were good ones.
(3) I had a lot of friends who were always trying (or so it seemed) to get their kids off doing something away from them. I found that if I played with my kids, the house did not get nearly as messy. I played with my kids a lot.