Carseat Hell

We’re on week 8 of having three kids and aside from fussy baby stuff, the two hardest parts of having three kids are the increased laundry and the carseat hell.

Thanks to modern invention and safety research, we are expected to keep our kids in carseats of some sort until they are 30 years old. Seriously, at the rate Lily is gaining weight (she’s 32 pounds at nearly 5 years old), she’ll be in a carseat forever. She’ll probably be legally driving a car before she’s “qualified” to get out of a carseat. Since you are supposed to keep your kid in a convertible carseat until they are 40 pounds, Lily is still in a 5-point harness and will be for probably another year. Because you are supposed to keep the straps super tight, I have to adjust her seatbelt almost every time we get in the car.

I’m glad we are working to keep our kids safer and I’m a big rule follower, but with three kids these safety restrictions are impossible. Lily is in the back row of our mini-van. I have to lean over another kid or climb back there in order to get her seatbelt on properly. She is able to put MOST of it on by herself most of the time, but often the straps are too tight from her previous time in the car for her to get it latched herself. She can’t loosen the 5-point harness by herself. It’s something I have to do.

Then there is the whole hell of getting her out of the carseat. For the longest time, she’s been able to unlatch the top by herself, but the bottom release button was too difficult for her little fingers to push down. So, when I go places, I have to spend a lot of time getting people in and out of carseats. Although I’m glad my kids are safer, I sometimes wish it was 1985 when you could get your kid out of a carseat forever at like age 2. I could have two kids mostly able to do their own seatbelts if not for modern invention. Think of how easy it would be to go out to the car with the kids and two out of three of them could just… sit and put on their seatbelts and we could leave. And then when we got somewhere, they could just get out of the car without help.

To dream the impossible dream.

All of the above was a prelude to my over-the-moon excitement last week when Lily undid her entire 5-point harness all by herself. Most parents may be horrified when their kids are able to take off their own seatbelts. I am exuberant. She knows to keep on her seatbelt while the car is in motion. She freaks out if I forget to help her with the seatbelt before we leave. Having her be able to undo her own seatbelt does nothing but make my life easier. She can pop out while I’m struggling with the other two kids’ seatbelts. Today she actually unlatched the top of Rose’s 5-point harness while I worked at getting Violet into a baby-wearing device.


But after unlatching herself two-three times in an afternoon, Lily’s muscles wear out and she can’t undo that stupid bottom buckle. It’s always when I least expect it and I’m halfway out with the other two kids and have to stop everything to climb into the car and stretch back to free her.

Why is this so hard?

If kids must be in carseats FOREVER, they have to find a way for the kids to get out of them a little easier. Those 5-point harnesses are sometimes hard for ME to undo. How is an otherwise self-sufficient 4-to-5+ year old with younger siblings supposed to do it? I suppose there are parents out there who want their kids trapped in the carseat, but if you have more than one kid to get out, carseats become a nightmare. Surely there is something that can be done to make this easier– besides limiting yourself to one kid OR not listening to carseat recommendations and moving her up to a booster or skipping the carseat altogether.

Remember when we just wore lap belts in the backseat? Or when there were no seatbelts? My grandmother tells me she used to keep her babies in a “car bassinet” loose on the backseat!

Those were the days.

It would be a total dream world until I got into a car accident.


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One Response to Carseat Hell

  1. Trigem

    Wow. That would be a nightmare.

    J hasn’t been able to undo her harness yet. She really has no incentive with two older brothers to do it for her. It sounds like she and Lily are about the same size. I don’t think the girl will ever get out of her car seat.

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