No-Car Days

No-Car Days

Fun fact: we Americans each spend an average of 293 hours in our vehicles every year. That’s 12+ solid days out of 365. I don’t care how good the music is or how fancy the upholstery is, that’s just way more time than I want to spend sitting in a car during my waking hours.

The hubs and I honestly did pretty well at minimizing our use of cars during 2016 and the first part of 2017 (our oldest has been a decent biker for years, so that helped).

Bike in snow
A demonstration of C’s usual zeal for no-car days.

Buuuuut… work and weather and a baby and four schedules instead of three and a million other things, and now I find myself in the car for way more time every week than I really mean to be. Boo.

So in my ongoing efforts to challenge my own mindset and habits, I’ve decided that me and my family will make an effort to embrace more no-car days this year. And Baby J is getting a bike trailer ASAP now that his neck muscles are not so wobbly.

Important notes:

1. A no-car day really means no gas-powered vehicles. Skipping the use of our own cars just by taking the bus or taxis isn’t what we’re going for. A no-car day means we’re walking or biking to everything we need to do.

2. No-car days never mean we sit at home watching movie or TV show marathons all day. In fact, unless the weather is downright dangerous (think large hail and lightening), we don’t watch shows or movies until after dinner when all homework is done and everyone is ready for bed.

3. Our house is a normal neighborhood house tucked up among lots of other houses, a couple miles away from most services. Our offices are 4.5 and 7 miles away (one-way). We are also at the very top of a hill, so leaving the neighborhood by foot or on bike requires a commitment to a significant workout when returning home.

Sidewalk with white-flowering trees.
This sort of thing can’t be properly enjoyed from a car.

Our No-Car Day Log

Here is what yesterday looked like for us:

7:30am – Coffee, fresh fruit, and homemade breakfast burritos are made and enjoyed in a very slow and lazy fashion. C whines about our plans to walk places, eventually decides he will scooter instead of walk, and then promptly gets dressed and starts asking why we can’t leave immediately.

10:20am – Departure for gym. Baby J loves his new-to-us jogging stroller.

11:15am – Gym workout!

12:45pm – Leave gym and walk to grocery store. Purchase potatoes, milk, onion, and baby formula. Stuff all items in the stroller and the one backpack we brought. Walk home.

1:45pm – Home. Eating lunch and making the potato dish for dinner. C decides to help with the cooking and tries to chop onions with his eyes covered “because they make you cry!” Baby J naps. Everyone else relaxes, plays chess, and then helps to air out the house when the potato dish drips all over the bottom of the oven and fills the kitchen with smoke.

4:30pm – Pack up potato dish, veggies, dessert and drinks on stroller to walk to our friends’ house.

5:00pm – Delicious food and lots of laughter with neighborhood friends. Kids decide that throwing salt out of the tree house is a good time, and get caught sneaking salt shakers into the back yard.

7:45pm – Home. Baths, bedtime for Baby J, clean-up time.

8:15pm – C gets to watch his long-awaited dragon show and listen to his audiobook for a few minutes. Hubs and I watch a movie.

9:00pm – Lights out!

Conclusions

We covered over 5 miles together (and plenty of hills), not including our workouts at the gym. It would have been WAY easier to justify the use of the car because of the baby or the heavy bag of potatoes we needed from the store or the hot casserole dish and glass containers and ice cream we were transporting to our friends’ house… but honestly ditching the car was SO. MUCH. BETTER. For our bodies and our minds and our wallets and the environment and (most importantly?) for us as a family.

If you haven’t done it in awhile, give the No-Car Day a try. Even if you hate it, you’ll be a little more fit and the kids will be a little more tired at the end of the day. You’re welcome.

 

 

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