Dad's Guide to Buying a Family Car
The one thing that men love most when their partner is pregnant? An excuse to spend hours on the internet looking for a new car.
Our resident Dad, Pat Fitzpatrick, advises other Dads on the top 4 issues they will face.
It is a magical moment in any man’s life. You sit with your arms around your partner, waiting for the indicator on the Clearblue pregnancy test to deliver the result. The result is positive. A whole range of emotions sweep through your brain. The main one being, I have an excuse to spend a month on the internet looking up people carriers. (Well, if she can do it for a buggy, why can’t I do it for a car?)
But what should you buy? It was easier a few years ago. Then there was only one answer to the question of a new car. The answer to that was of course, Nissan Qashqai. Judging by the number of them on the road, that seemed like the answer to every question around 2011. I’m surprised there aren’t a few five-year-olds out there called Qashqai. (As far as I know.) Things are trickier now. The Qashqai seems to have been replaced by the Hyundai ix35. The Hyundai says a lot of things about the owner. I have a sense of style. I have a few bob. My mother will be delighted because she’ll think it’s a Range Rover.
The one thing you are not allowed to do is drive a second hand car. Not now that you can buy a new car with one of those PCP leasing deals. Ignore the fact that they seem a bit dodgy and you should be banned from signing any form of loan application while surviving on two hours’ sleep. Because there is one thing we all learned from the property crash. Nothing can possibly go wrong when loads of Irish people sign loan deals that seem too good to be true.
Which Car Seat?
Ever wonder why families have three different brands of car seats in the back? Have three kids yourself and you’ll soon figure it out. The first born gets a car seat designed by a team of scientists lured from N.A.S.A. The seat is so tough that Conor McGregor refuses to fight it. It is made in Scandinavia, because Scandinavians are better than us. It costs more than the car.
But it’s carrying a precious cargo, so who cares? Well, you do when the second baby arrives and you google ‘childcare costs in Ireland.’ So, when it comes to buying a new seat for the first child, they usually end up in a brand called El Cheapo Seato. It might be made in Mexico using child labour for all you know. But it’s only €150, so maybe better not to ask. The good news is that it passes all the safety regulations. The bad news is it doesn’t have any hipster credentials and, really, what’s the point in having kids if they don’t make you look cool? (They so better look after us when we’re old.)
Anyway, along comes baby number 3 and you need another seat for the first born. There is a strong temptation to see if you could get away with strapping him to the roof rack. You’d try it too if the neighbours weren’t so pass remarkable.
All this is a long way of giving some short advice. Go with El Cheapo Seato from Day One. That way, everyone gets a decent seat.
Whose Car is it Anyway?
There is a scene in The Simpsons where Nelson laughs at a man driving along in a car that is clearly too small for him. The only thing I can say for certain about this man is that he is probably a new Dad. And he ended up with the banger. Here’s how that works. Man has nice big car. Man and partner get pregnant. Woman gets nice new car. Man sells nice big car so they can pay for it. Man gets her old car. It’s neither nice nor big. Look, you’ll be lucky if you ever get a run in that new people carrier.
Outside of the ‘putting the baby to sleep’ run (see below), there are only two situations where you will be allowed in the driver’s seat. When Mom hasn’t had time to put on her makeup before leaving the house, or when there is a bit of parallel parking to be done. (Come on Moms, we all know it’s true.) Bear this in mind when you start your search for people carriers on the internet. And make sure you have enough money left over to buy a decent car for yourself. Otherwise, you’ll just end up driving around in a 1998 Micra wondering if you would have been better off getting a vasectomy. And there’s bound to be a Nelson judging you from the side of the road.
Will I Ever Sleep Again?
No, you won’t get a full night’s sleep until your youngest child hits 2. But your child will sleep much better in a comfortable car. This matters more than you could imagine. When all else has failed (a bath, In the Night Garden, Calpol, Neoclarityn, a couple of books, cursing), you can always just put them in the car and go. It’s also a great solution when your toddler starts to fight the midday nap. Some of the sweetest hours as a new Dad are spent cruising along a motorway while your pride and joy is asleep and legally restrained in the back.
In fact, any political party looking to appeal to new parents in Dublin should just offer to turn the M50 into a full circle. You could cruise around that baby all day long. But then the tide turns. You know this has happened to a couple when you see them in the car, jumping up and down and making faces at a two-year-old in the back. There is no need to call the Guards. This couple are just trying to step their little darling from taking a late afternoon nap. Because little and darling are not the two words you would use to describe the child when he is still bouncing off the ceiling at 11pm that night.
(Actually, little is still one of them, but darling is so out.)