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A Momof6 Reader Asks "Should I leave my kids alone in the car- for just a moment?"

I recently received this email from Momof6 reader Sarah who shares this dilemma on how to handle so many young children during preschool pickup...

Over the holidays I received this email from Momof6 reader Sarah who shares this dilemma on how to handle so many young children during preschool pickup (Sarah has 4 kids ages 4, 3, 2, and 1, plus a baby on the way- go Sarah!) ….

I have a situation and was wondering how you handled this when your kids were younger. Obviously the 2 older kids (boys) are in preschool. My boys are BOYS, wild, loud, a little obnoxious if you will…lol. To get them both from school is a chore. I have the 2 babies also. I have a double stroller that hardly fits through the door of the school, and then to control the stroller and hang on to both boys is impossible. The school is an old store front in a shopping center. It is off by itself and the school owns both vacant store fronts on either side. I park as close as I can to the door (about 10ft?) and I turn the car off and lock it and leave the babies inside. The entire front of the school is glass so I can see my car the entire time. I grab both boys, and leave. The entire process takes about 5 minutes. But I have to tell you, I get the NASTIEST looks from the other moms because …gasp…I leave the kids in the car. The way I look at it, it is safer to do it this way than to risk one of the boys running from me into a parking lot. Also, I tend to be a little more old fashioned than many moms these days. I am not a hovering type of mom and I loathe the term “play date”. From the attitudes I get you’d think that I left them alone for 30 minutes wandering in traffic. I was just curious how you handled these types of situations where it is just impossibly hard to do things the “normal” way…or any other struggles you have with having so many so close together. Thanks so much!

Well Sarah- I will admit that when I first had my kids, I was neurotic about taking them out of their car seats to go anywhere…. I mean literally to return a rental video and place it into the Blockbuster drop off box (I wasn’t even going into the store!)… the dry cleaner, anywhere and everywhere! I think at one point I had seen an Oprah show about children being left alone inside of cars that were then stolen while Mom ran into the store for “just a minute”. And it made me paranoid!

(On a side note… Oprah shows about bad things that happen to babies and kids should have been off-limits to any woman in the throes of hormone-overload-due-to-pregnancy! I remember after arriving home from the hospital with my first, my Mom, who was staying with us, was kind enough to answer the phone one afternoon. It was a florist calling to ensure that we were home so they could deliver flowers. My Mom casually made a nice comment that “yes, both Mom and baby were home”… and I practically ripped my mother’s head off…. how dare she tell a stranger that I was home with a new baby! They might want to come and kidnap him! Yes- I seriously did do that….. all in response to an Oprah show I had seen during my 9th month. I should have taken an Oprah-sabbatical back then!)

However, I now know that parenting many children under the age of 5 offers its own set of challenges. And while I would not normally recommend that someone ever leave their child alone in the car- I think you are the best judge of what’s right for you, and for the safety of your kids. As long as you exercise extreme caution about locking kids in a car on even a slightly-warm day (please see this About.com article that explains the dangers… nearly 500 kids have died since 1998 after being left in a hot car- even when outside temps were only in the 70′s)… then you should do what you feel is right.

And learn to ignore the crazy looks from the other Moms. Everyone has an opinion on how you parent your kids… and they always seem too quick to share it! Rather than judging you, the best thing that someone could do would be to offer to be a “pick up” buddy for you (an excellent Mom to partner up with would be another Mom of a baby the she has to haul into the preschool too for pick up). You could each take turns going into the school to pick up the preschoolers while the other Mom hangs out by the cars with the babies who are still strapped into their car seats. I know that this is something I did several times with other Moms at my preschool when I still had babies around!

You know, there is a whole group of Moms “out there” that refer to themselves as “free range parents”… trying to stop the mounting craziness of never allowing their kids out of their sight. While I do not fully subscribe to this type of parenting, I do like to educate myself on how a more “free range” parent might look at a situation. Lenore Skenazy writes a blog called Free Range Kids, and I think it is an excellent blog to follow. I think that you might enjoy it too.

Okay Momof6 readers: What do you think about Sarah’s dilemma…. should she bring both babies into the preschool each time in order to pick up her 2 boys? Or should she leave the babies in the car?

Thumbnail photo credit: deovolenti courtesy of flickr

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

lisa miraglia January 20, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I like the balanced approach to your response. I think finding a mom to partner with at pick-up & drop off is the way to go. We live in a time where we do have to be more cautious. I don't like the idea that many people know this is your routine. It only takes one disturbed person to take advantage of your situation...2 kids in the car, 2 in her hands, clearly juggling a lot. I apologize for raising the fear factor but it's important to be aware. Is there any chance the school could help by walking your children to the door?
Sharon Rowley January 21, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Thanks Lisa! I actually received a follow up comment from Sarah over at my blog Momof6, and she was relieved to hear that the Moms responding were sympathetic to her situation and were withholding the typical "Mom judgment" that can be so deflating to a Mom struggling to manage 4 young children.
William McCormack January 21, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Safe in car is fine In eyeshot is perfectly fine

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