With COVID-19 running rampant throughout Florida (and in our own backyard), the fewer people in my family who are out and about, the better. However, with two kids and a husband who’s on the road a lot, sometimes my little ones have to come along on errands. I’d much rather leave them home alone — but they’re too young to be home alone. So, I drag them along since they don’t mind being in the car (cue the endless movies, snacks, and air conditioning).
Then it comes time for the actual errand. It’s mostly things like running into the bank or the UPS store, grabbing to-go food, running into the gas station for a drink, returning something… you get the idea. By the time the kids get their shoes on, get unbuckled out of the car seats, get out of the car (very slowly), meander into the store or business, and be told three times to keep their hands to themselves, what should be a lightning-fast errand becomes a never-ending journey.
When I got a newer car last year — which has the ability to leave the A/C on, lock the doors, and take the car keys with me — I started running quick errands and leaving the kids in the car. We’re talking under 5 minutes. Note that Florida law states that “a parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes.”
Gasp! I know what you may be thinking — how dare I leave my kids in the hot car in the middle of summer?! Well, they aren’t in a hot car. They are sitting in an ice-cold car. And I am the one sweating because I’m bolting in and out of places.
How could I leave them in an unlocked car alone? The car isn’t unlocked. It’s locked, and I have the keys with me. And my almost 10-year-old knows better than to unlock it or roll the window down for anyone other than me.
How could I leave them alone out of sight? They aren’t out of sight. I will only consider doing this when I know I’ll have a clear view of them from inside a store or building. There must be a glass window or glass doors so that I can see the vehicle at all times.
Do I worry about strangers approaching the car? Of course. But my dark tinted windows make it nearly impossible to see what (or who) is inside, and I’m never gone for more than five minutes. I also have OnStar in the vehicle which is a little reassurance if they ever needed help.
I also try and run errands during off-hours so there are fewer people around, less wait times, and less worry. I will admit, I am anxious until I’m back in the car, but I’m more anxious having the kids out in a pandemic right now. There is no way my littlest one is going to wear a mask, so that’s out. And I truly feel this is for their own safety.
Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend this for people with toddlers or infants — but now that my son is almost double digits and knows right from wrong, and if he had to, could grab his little brother and get out of the car to come to find me, it’s honestly how I get sh*t done.