You may have seen on my social media profiles, that I have been backing a very important campaign, promoting the use of car seats. #CarseatFullstop is a much-needed campaign and while I may be part of the extraordinary team who is working hard to create awareness, I am in no means a superhuman and I have made some pretty careless mistakes.
During the period when we were waiting for the bank to reposes our car, there was a lot of uncertainty as to when they may come to collect the car and we had to be prepared that at any time, they’d be here. At first, they said today, then tomorrow… and eventually, they never came. In preparation, we stripped the car of all our things, including the car seat, not expecting to drive our car ever again. In the midst of the waiting, we had to go to the shop, a mere 2-minute drive away, so we thought – no biggie, Ax can sit in the back.
Very quickly, we had undone the habit of Axl getting into his car seat and almost 3 months later, we still struggle to get him in. I am not talking about a whine for 2 minutes, him giving up, buckling in and off we ride. Nope, I am talking about 30 minutes of death-screams that lead to hyperventilation, vomiting, kicking and neighbors poking their noses out of the window, to see if I am beating my kid.
I am the first to admit that I am not a perfect mom. I had Axl when I was 20 and had very little knowledge on car seats, breastpumps and all the other accessories that accompany a pooping, bundle of joy. I didn’t know the importance of car seats and while we always have had one for Axl, since birth, I sort of approached it as an optional thing, until I started seeing a friend’s outrage at careless parents. It wasn’t until we were pulling out of our complex, when a car came centimeters from knocking us (Axl wasn’t in the car, FYI) that I realized I needed to start taking this whole thing a lot more seriously.
So instead of harping on about the things you already know like how your kid should be in a carseat no matter what, I am going to answer the excuse a lot of moms have been using. How to make car trips easier for the kid who refuses to buckle up.
Introduce your kid to music that is fun and encourages actions like, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” They tend to get caught up in listening to the songs, singing along and doing the actions that they completely forget that they’ve been strapped in. We’ve also allowed Axl to play with a tablet or cell phone, as long as he sits in his car seat. We have created a secret folder on our devices with new games, videos, and music that he can only play while he is in the car, that way the game doesn’t lose its novelty too soon. If your child is still too young to participate in these sorts of distractions, consider hanging toys, mobiles, mirrors and white noise.
I realized that it can be sort of frightening being strapped into something that you have no idea what it is, so we allowed Axl to sit and play with his car seat inside. We encouraged him to use his car seat as a chair while he ate lunch, we played games like taxi-driver, race car driver and anything that would make him familiar with the car seat so that it isn’t the most terrifying experience to happen daily.
I noticed that Axl started getting anxious when he picked up on my nervousness of having to go through the whole tantrum ordeal, just to buckle him in. I started turning it into a game, approached it with the “high-pitch” excited voice that gives him the idea that it is the best game ever and he is only missing out if he chooses not to participate.
Praise and Celebrate
When your child does eventually calm down, celebrate it! Dance, jiggle, reward them with a sticker, or something that your child really enjoys. I remember when I was a kid, at pre-school there was a birthday chair and a naughty chair. There wasn’t anything special that set these two apart, but it was evident in my teacher’s tone just which of the two chairs, you wanted to be in. The same applies to a car seat, make it a big deal and kids will volunteer to be sitting in their car seats.Keep special toys and snacks in the car
Keep special toys and snacks in the car
Reserving special treats, snacks, soft and small toys and games that are only to be used when your child is buckled up, is a great way to encourage them to sit in their car seat as it takes the attention away from the car seat and gives them something else to focus on. Remember to consider that should you have a car accident, EVERYTHING becomes a weapon so pay special attention as to which toys you include in their special toy bag.
#CarseatFullstop has proven that there is no excuse for not having your child strapped up. If you can afford to have a car, then you can most certainly afford a car seat. It’s natural for the campaign to make you feel uncomfortable because as moms, we already tend to feel like we’re failing and don’t want to be made to feel like we are putting our sweet peas in danger, but just consider that you can save your child’s life by simply strapping them up.
Head over to #CarseatFullstop for more information, tips and advice on choosing the right car seat, how to install them and see why the campaign has the support of award-winning local parenting bloggers, media and brands.