Pete Gilbert">

The Art of Parenting and Car Maintenance

The thought of having kids can be pretty intimidating. Part of the reason for that is, there is so much unknown about being a parent for the first time. Many people, before they become parents, have already had the experience of owning a car, so I made a list of ways raising a child is like owning a car. If you can take care of a car, you can take care of a kid, it’s a simple as that.

First, lets start with some very basic maintenance, oil changes. Every so many months or so many thousand miles, it’s a good idea to take your car in for an oil change. Every so many months it’s also a good idea to take your child to the doctor’s office for his or her well-child visit. It’s a great way to get your questions answered (by an actual physician, not by WebMD), advice and help on milestones to come, and vaccinations for your child.

You wouldn’t buy gas for your car from nasty, dirty gas station would you? Not all gas stations sell the same type of gas. Some places offer additives in your gas that can result in better gas mileage for your car. Just like not all food is the same for your body. You wouldn’t take your kids to that dirty greasy spoon restaurant would you? What about giving kids constant fast food? Put good food in their tanks and they will operate much better.

Pay attention to the warning lights. While it might not be so obvious as a check engine flashing on your kid’s forehead, if they seem to not be themselves, chances are there is something wrong. The other day, my six year old climbed up on her mom’s lap and fell asleep at a restaurant. That’s when her check engine light came on. Three hours later, after a visit to the doctor’s, she was diagnosed with strep.

Just like your car will rust if you don’t wash it, your children will crust if you don’t bathe them.

Wiping is important. Whether it’s windshield, nose or butt wiping, make sure they are all functioning properly. This one is a little tricky, it’s much easier to put new wipers on your car than to teach your kid how to properly, and COMPLETELY wipe his or her bottom.

Make sure your cars headlights are working properly. It will be tough to see at night if you don’t. Also, make sure you get your child’s vision checked, so they are able to see. Also, tell your child to actually try on his or her vision test, you don’t want your kid to fake having bad vision just because he or she wants glasses the way my daughter did.

For a car’s engine to properly run well, it needs to be driven for extended periods of time on the highway. Just like with your car, it’s a good idea to get kids outside often and for extended periods of time.

Don’t pollute the air. Keep your cars muffler and emissions in good shape. Teach your kids manners, have them keep their burping and farting in public to a minimum.

Make sure your car and your kids are both working to their full potential. I have a relative, for the sake of keeping her anonymous, I’ll call her “mom,” that has a really nice car, but doesn’t know how to use the navigation system in her car. You kids may have talents they don’t know how to use, help them learn what those talents are. As far as “mom” and the navigation system, I’ve tried to teach her, believe me.

Does your car have a cargo rack? Then use it. load it up , that’s what it was meant for. If your kids go to grandma’s house for the night have them wheel their own suitcase to the car. Let your preschool child carry his or her lunchbox to class.

Those are all my tips for taking care of your car and your kids.

The good news is, if you screw up taking care of your car, you can always trade it in for a new one. You can’t exactly do with with your child, but I guess you could always make a new one and try again.

-Pete

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