We live more than a half hour walk from school. Too far for little legs.
To carry our weekly shop home on foot would require muscles like a contestant on World’s Strongest Man.
To go out for the day requires five people worth of coats, snacks, spare clothes and the obligatory toy for the car ride. Imagine how much more we will need to carry once our little lady arrives!
Therefore with another baby on the way my gorgeous, cheap to tax and run, easy to park and fun to drive MINI Countryman just doesn’t cut it anymore.
You’d think just buy a seven seater right? There’s enough of them out there; Grand Picasso, Renault Scenic, Mitsubishi Grandis to name but a few. However unless you have particularly short kids or are fond of roof boxes none of these cut it for a family of five or more. Don’t get me wrong, the two pop up seats in the boot are brilliantly convenient when you need to pop a couple of extra bums on seats but for anyone who needs permanent use they just aren’t big enough.
Firstly you lose half the boot space if not more. Secondly the poor bum that has to fill the handy pop up seat better hope it has no legs attached or at least wear some flight socks to encourage the blood circulation to the feet. Thirdly you need to have at least a basic yoga level of flexibility to manoeuvre in and out of the seat, whether you do that via a decidedly ungraceful leg over the back seat and out through the boot or by wedging yourself out behind the slightly inclined middle row is up to you but neither can be completed effortlessly by anyone older than six.
My husband and I searched high and low for the ideal replacement for the MINI. The husband already has a Volkwagen T5 that seats five but it is used for band transport and is not built for Isofix child seats or family travel.
So after many visits to various dealerships and endless hours on the Internet we finally decided to stick to what we know and go for another VW. In all honesty the only comparisons looked more like the sort of transport provided by town Councils for community day trips. Call me a snob but with my mismatched rabble of different sized nutters I don’t need any help looking special when we go out! I have to also admit we are a little biased as we both love classic VWs but it was by far the best choice.
We ended up with a VW Transporter Caravelle and although it’s a hell of a size jump from my little MINI the kids love it and we no longer have to worry about space. I can fit my double pram, car seats, kids, friends and luggage all in with ease. The seats even swivel and a little picnic table pops up if we need to stop to refuel the small people’s bellies. The downside? The ridiculously high price tag. Not just for the VW but for any comparably sized vehicle with a good safety rating and equal amount of space. Compared to these ‘family-aimed’ hatchbacks that retail for between £7,000-15,000 the £30k+ price tag seems more suited to high flying business types who regularly work on laptops in VIP airport lounges, not a couple of mid-thirties parents with their entourage of offspring. Don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful that we are in a position to be able to have such a vehicle but I also appreciate that many are not.
So the point to my story? In a society where it is growing more and more commonplace to have three or more children why are the car manufacturers not catering more towards this? Surely they understand that the concept of a three hour motorway drive with any number of children is not a pleasurable experience for any parent? Even less so when some or all of those children are cramped and uncomfortable. No parent needs the extra hassle of desperately trying to cram in the variety of equipment and luggage required to go anywhere for a length of time with small children either. But if you don’t have a spare £30k or a very impressive credit rating the only option seems to be to continue cramming your family and worldly belongings into your reasonably priced yet clown-like undersized vehicle and enduring the cramps and moans every time you go anywhere!