A friend of mine and his wife are expecting their first baby. They are in that nesting mode of getting all the crap they will need to raise a baby from infancy through toddlerhood all the way to a pre-schooler. This got me thinking back on some of the things I wish we would have done differently.

My youngest of three kids just turned three. He's still in diapers but is working on potty training so I think its finally safe to say that my wife and I are done with babies. We are veteran baby raisers. But when it came to "baby stuff" I wish we had done some things differently so I decided to write about it. I'm not saying everything I write here is the correct way of doing it. This is merely the way I would have done it if I had it to do over again based on my experiences as a dad of babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and schoolers (??).

This was originally going to be one post but I decided it would be easier to do a little bit each day instead of one big long piece of keyboard vomit. So the first of the series (I'm writing a series? Sheesh!) is all about the car.

Buy the Last Car You Need As Soon As Possible

When you have that first baby almost any vehicle will do the trick. Really. Right before our first baby was born I owned a paid for Chevy Cavalier and a paid-for Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle. I sold those plus we had some money saved up so we bought a 5-year-old full-size sedan with only 28,000 miles. It was perfect for one kid, but I could have dealt with the 2-door for a while longer.

If you plan on having more than one kid, just upgrade to the bigger vehicle right away. And by bigger, I mean a minivan or a medium-sized SUV, like a Chevy Tahoe. Don't get some vehicle with a hatchback and think you're getting a family car. What you're actually getting is a 4-door car with a taller trunk, that's all. It will get you by for the first kid, but no better than the 4-door sedan would. With two kids you will probably want to upgrade again, especially if dad and/or mom is tall. Why? Because the infant car seat doesn't fit behind the driver or shotgun seat occupied by a tall person. It wasn't long after our second was born that we got a small SUV. But then the third came along right after that so in hindsight, we wished we had gone bigger right away. That's why you should get the last car you will need as soon as possible. Then you're already prepared.

Some people, like my wife, have a thing about minivans. I don't know why. They may not be sexy, but they suit their purpose the best and most economically. Sure, Suburbans are great, but even a three or four years old used one costs half as much as a house for some people. A minivan costs way less, gets better gas mileage, can be had with all-wheel drive, and most of them have really handy doo-dads like power doors.

Another consideration with the vehicle you get for hauling your kids around is spacing. Sure, we are a family of five and had a vehicle that seats five, but there are times when the three that sit in the back seat don't get along. In such close proximity to each other one could pull another's hair or bounce a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle of another's face. Putting space between them eliminates most opportunities for sibling antagonization.

Of course, your budget plays the biggest factor in whether or not you are able to upgrade your vehicle. But if you are able to upgrade, upgrade to as close to the last vehicle you will need after all your future children are born as you can afford. If that means you plan on four kids but can only afford the two kid small SUV, then do that.

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow I will convince you to not get a diaper bag. Really.

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