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Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer hosts Works for me Wednesday, and this tip is in response to this article on Parent Dish.
One of my biggest questions when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, and my first child was only 10 months old, was, "How am I ever going to leave the house???" Now, I will admit that it usually takes at least 15 minutes for us to get out of the house, but I've made my own life a lot easier with the simple addition of a plastic storage tote.
I have a Honda Odyssey with the automatic sliding rear doors, and (currently) a 22 month old, and a 3 month old. When we're at home, I open both sets of doors, and my big girl climbs in to her seat by herself. How? Because I put a flat plastic tote (the sort that you could store under the bed, if you didn't already have 40 tons of stuff under the bed) in front of the seat for her, so that she has a "step." She first climbs into the van, then steps up onto the tote, then she gets in her seat.
Bonus - I also keep supplies in the tote - extra diapers and wipes, etc., for refilling the diaper bag. That way I don't need to carry every little thing with me every time we go inside the store. It's right in the car if I need it. This has lightened the diaper bag considerably.
So, I put the infant in her seat, then I walk around the car and I buckle my toddler in her seat, and I don't have to kill my back doing either. If my kiddo can climb into a van, surely Nolan can climb into a car, if he has a little step.
Here's the demo video we made this morning:
Of course, when we're not in our own driveway, I stand right next to her, holding the baby, while she gets into the car. Then I put the baby in her seat, and then I return to MG's side of the car to buckle her in (or I put the baby in the sling so that I have arms to buckle MG with).
As for getting her to go willingly into the car - I usually tell her that we'll stop and see the trains (which are on the way to virtually everywhere we go) or tell her where we're going. If it's no fun, I tell her that she can have a root beer if she's good. Bribes are a part of life. I don't mind using them to maintain my sanity.