Me and My Children, Car-Free

Since the decision to move to a car-lite lifestyle I have not had many days where it has just been me and the children. Those are the days I was thinking of when we were shopping for a bicycle. It was most important to me to be able to transport four children by myself in order to run errands, go on play dates and enjoy our extracurriculars. I knew I had the option to stay home, but the reality was we wanted to go to the library, park, friends, grocery, ice cream shop, comic book store, doctor appointments, post office, and pool.

Originally I thought we would drive to get groceries and with our current cargo bike and trailer options, we no longer think of taking the van. I originally thought we would drive to school, and turns out we are, although I am constantly thinking of ways around this. It was my intention to keep a vehicle, but as we over come each challenge I find a car-free lifestyle as a potential reality. Marshall University introduced a car share program this fall that would allow for a five passenger option only, yet we still have rental cars/vans in Huntington. We certainly like the convenience and option of having our van in the drive way, but when we have the opportunity to walk or bike, I take it. I look forward to spring 2012 where I can reflect on this year.

In July, Brent was out of town for three weeks. During that time I drove one day a week to do all my errands and we enjoyed our time at home and went for a couple of short distance rides. The days and nights of single parenting were emotionally exhausting and I didn’t care to add any additional and unnecessary challenges. When Brent returned we began our car-free month, Brent started back to class, the children back to school. We were working on our routes and our systems for getting out of the door with six people on ten wheels (four bikes and a trailer), or by foot, or by bus. Then came September and we found a rhythm with driving the children to school in the morning and biking most every other location and time.

October came and went and here we are seven days into November and today was a day where I had four children home and Brent was at work. We have been enjoying a spell of warm afternoons and plenty of sunshine here in West Virginia. We spent the weekend outside raking leaves and watching the children play tag with the neighbors.

Our Day Together
We began today making biscuits and oatmeal cookies. My friends came over to swap our meals, then the children and I loaded our bags and rode to the park to meet up with pals from school. London and Elliot are strong enough and have the endurance to bike most every where we need to go now. Carrying Oliver in the iBert and Avery on the deck behind me is my normal load. We are adapting well. I left the kitchen covered in flour, pans and cookie crumbs and enjoyed four unplugged hours under a brilliant blue sky.

When it was time to go we needed to refill our water bottles. The park had closed all its restrooms and turned off their drinking fountains for the winter, but the tennis center around the corner was open so we recharged there. It would have been, months ago, that I would have looked at the hill around the tennis courts as impossible. When I was running with my friend last year, it was a hill we dreaded and only ever walked up. Today, London, Elliot and I, with Avery and Oliver and all the bags on my bike, rode up the Ritter Park hill. London was crying, we were all panting. We stopped once to catch our breath and looked to see how far we had come and how little we had ahead of us. Elliot and I felt accomplished and excited. London threatened me and begged me to promise to never ever do that again. She’s my child who dreads anything uncomfortable, yet she did it. She was given the option to meet us at the fountain by going around the flat side, and she chose the hill. I think, under it all, she was proud.

We rolled on home and everyone enjoyed a cup of ice cream and a bit of time on the Wii. Oliver was asleep in the iBert before we got to our street, so I tucked him into bed and sat down to do what I do at my computer. When I get up I will tend to the kitchen and begin on dinner and then read stories with the children. I can’t say that all our future holiday breaks and summer term will be this relaxed and smooth and glorious, but I am very happy that we are able to move through our day together, with out an agenda. Extremely grateful I am getting strong enough to lead and encourage my children anywhere they need to go. Proud of myself for remaining true to my convictions and for choosing to be uncomfortable because it is more rewarding. This is our simple life. It is what we make of it.

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Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 7 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 This week
75.4 868.7 12.6 659 Since August 14, 2011
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7 thoughts on “Me and My Children, Car-Free”

  1. Hi, just found your blog through Minimalist Mom, your bike experiment is so inspiring, I definitely want to do something similar when the weather warms up here again in MN! I was too chicken to try biking with my baby this past summer, but she’ll be over a year next spring so hopefully we can make it work out then.

    1. Thank you so much, and welcome! I am following a family bike blogger in WI right now because I am very curious about winter cycling: He just started blogging, but I will be waiting and watching to see how things go. I also follow Carfree with Kids, b/c they cycle Boston winters, which no doubt are not a MN winter, but I love the possibilities:

      We were hesitant about taking the baby out on the bikes or trailer until after 1yr b/c of all the things we read online, but now I have a whole new opinion and outlook on babies on bikes and I swear if four weren’t enough I would have another just for the baby-on-bike experiences. I would also love to try cycling while pregnant. Oh the missed opportunities :)

    2. I went to college in MN and have a few friends who still live there and bike year round. They have ‘snow’ tires they put on during the winter. :)

  2. Love the ginko leaves! I used to walk the Ritter Park hill when I was pregnant, but have not braved it on foot since Etta was bor. My legs hurt just thinking about doing it on a bike! High five to London and the rest of the crew!

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