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baby bunching during a gas shortage

Posted Oct 14 2008 5:00am

OK, so it's not directly related to Baby Bunching, but it's probably something many of you can relate to.  I've cross-posted my post today on Deep South Moms below.

Today's lesson relates to errand running with your Bunch.  Read the aforementioned post first.  Just think of this as a case study in Baby Bunching errand running.  Watch and learn!

There are several lessons to be gleaned for Baby Bunchers here, and believe me, I learned them through trial and error.  They are:

  • When possible, only plan errands and outings for Happy Time (see explanation below).
  • Don't push your bunch.  When estimating how much longer you think you have before things go awry, subtract half an hour just to be safe.  This is along the same lines of the advice to plan to leave 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.  Unfortunately for us, this translates into Baby Bunchers essentially only have 15 minutes out of each hour that regular people have.
  • If you see things heading downhill, STOP AND FIX THE PROBLEM.  In the story below, it was tempting to push my screaming Bunch into Target thinking that I could power through the errand (and believe me, I've done it in the past when I was younger and less wise in the ways of Baby Bunching).  Instead, I took twenty minutes to rectify everyone's hunger and thirst problems BEFORE forging into Target.  Sure, it made a 5 minute errand take half an hour, but everyone was happier and less stressed in the store.


The Gas Shortage:  A Mom's Eye View

1_2 There has been a gas shortage in Atlanta for going on two weeks now.  I have three children under the age of five, so I haven't seen the evening news or read a complete newspaper in five years, but I understand that it is attributed to two causes:

  • Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which recently pounded the Gulf Coast back-to-back, temporarily shut down/slowed oil production for the two main pipelines that serve the southeast.
  • Georgia was in the process of moving to a different type of fuel, which required re-formulated fuel supplies.

The refineries are in the process of coming back online and our Governor issued a temporary waiver for the reformulated fuel, which is supposed to help, but so far I haven't seen a change in my neighborhood gas supply.  This is sad for a couple of reasons - primarily because it is a pain in the butt, but also because it is a frightening glimpse into the future as predicted by the documentary Crude Awakening, which details what will happen when we completely deplete our world's oil supply with our gluttonous oil-hogging ways.  Scary, scary stuff. But I'm not on a globally oriented environmental soapbox today, I'm sticking to practical implications of the gas shortage for the little guy here.

First off, I have a newborn that has reflux and hates, hates, HATES his carseat.  He has been known to scream bloody murder from here to Kennesaw and back (about 45 minutes each way) NON-STOP.  For this reason, it is not fun to drive around for 20 minutes or more looking for a station that even has gas.  And then wait in line for 40 minutes or more to actually acquire said gas for my gas tank.  All the while praying that the fumes I am running on (literally, not figuratively as most moms use it) do not run out, leaving me stranded on the side of the road with three small children.

Second, it is a bummer because getting gas is supposed to be a "freebie" errand when you are running errands with small children. Meaning that it takes less than 5 minutes and you do not actually have to unload anyone from their carseats.  Much like the bank drive-through, the dry cleaner drive-through, returning library books in the drop bin, or the drive-through stamp window at the post office, you count on being able to get gas on the way to somewhere else and not actually carving out time to make getting gas an outing.

Third, when getting gas takes anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour, you use up valuable "Happy Time".  This is the carefully orchestrated (and very limited) timeframe that mothers of small children have when all of the children are actually fed, watered, and rested AT THE SAME TIME.  This is very precious time in which either a fun or productive outing may occur, but not both.  Do not kid yourself into thinking you will make it to the park and then the grocery.  Happy Time will only last long enough for one of the two stops.

Yesterday, the gas shortage messed me up big-time.  After waiting three days to get gas because I was dreading the prospect of squiring my screaming newborn around town while looking for gas, I was finally on fumes and had to find gas.  In a stroke of luck, I located some within 5 miles of my house and waited in a line that was no more than 15 minutes long to get it.  Newborn and his three year old brother slept blissfully through the entire event.  Success!

Now on to the real purpose of our outing - getting diapers at Target. We arrive at Target about 40 minutes after we left home and I begin loading everyone into the cart.  Newborn has decided that he now eats every two hours instead of three and is wigging out.  Pre-schooler, who rarely takes a nap anymore, has sacked out in the car due to the heat and inactivity and is NOT happy to find himself in a Target shopping cart.  He is now groggy, hungry and thirsty.  And also crying.  I am so screwed it is not even funny, so I load everyone back into the air-conditioned car to address hunger and thirst needs before running into Target for what is a FIVE MINUTE errand to get diapers.

Almost two hours after we left to get diapers, we returned home exhausted.

And that, my friends, is how the gas shortage affects moms.  Talk about a crude awakening.

An original Deep South Moms blog post. 

Cara writes about parenting her three boys on Baby Bunching, The Fox Factor and at Atlanta Parent Online.


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