Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Navigating Parking Lots with Children Doesn’t Have To Be So Hard

The Necessary Evil of Running Errands
Some people pay to have their groceries delivered. Like most of you, I am not some people. I hit the stores with my own two feet. And, in an effort to keep our weekends clear to enjoy time with my husband, I often shop with my young children in tow.

"It is good for them," I figure. They push the miniature carts, which I fill with items off our list. Sometimes it is hair-raising to see them heading toward a shelf of glass jars or a stranger's ankles. But for the most part it is a way for them to participate meaningfully in life's work.

What's the Rush?
The most stressful part of running errands is getting my children safely from the car to the store and back. Drivers are often preoccupied with their own lists of things to do, their own passengers, or otherwise not paying close attention to their surroundings. They might be arriving late to an appointment. For one reason or another, we cannot depend solely on the drivers to keep the parking lots safe.

Hold My Hand!
So I insist, "Hold my hand." Some of us have one hand per child, some of us don't. And it seems common to hear young children protest. They crave their freedom and try to insist upon it at inappropriate times. What if there was a place to park that offered a bit more space to separate our children from moving traffic? Would you choose it?

Blood-Pressure-Reducing Safe(r) Havens = Sidewalks, Cart Corrals or Grassy Islands
Of course! I have started parking strategically and you can, too, if you know what to look for!

  • If there is a spot where I can park at a sidewalk that leads directly to the front door of the store without pedestrians having to cross traffic then that is where I park. 
  • If that is not an option but there is a "floating" sidewalk in the middle of the parking lot, then I aim for that sidewalk. 
  • Some parking lots don't have any sidewalks/walkways for customers. In those cases, I look for spots next to a grassy island
  • Cart corrals are good spots, too.

When I started using this parking lot strategy, shopping with my children got a lot less stressful. However, it isn't foolproof!

There Is Still Teaching/Parenting To Do
Children still run. They still require your attention in these dangerous places. You will still have to watch them, give them verbal cues, even hold their hand sometimes. However, a sidewalk or patch of grass can provide a teeny tiny peace of mind. And I take every opportunity to make life's chores simpler. Don't you?

Rethinking a Lot
Parking lots are so ubiquitous that you might not realize that there are engineers who think about them deeply and brainstorm ways to make them better. Urban designers and governmental planners consider everything from environmental impact to functionality. They aim to solve problems of humanity and it is up to us to take advantage of their work!

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