Is it Time to Give Up The Minivan?

I'm not ready to give up my people mover

When is it time to give-up the minivan?

OK I have a big decision to make and I need your help.

For 18 years I’ve been driving a people mover. A minivan. For the last four years, its been a six-seater Ford Flex, but it still the same. To tell you the truth, even though I love the car, it’s huge. Like very difficult to parallel park. And, my teenagers hate driving it. They say it’s embarrassing. They’re lucky to have access to a car, but making them realize that is a whole other conversation.

I digress.

My lease is up soon, and I’m shopping for a new vehicle. I’m leaning to another SUV with comfortable seating for 7, while my husband is encouraging me (rather vociferously, I have to say) to downsize to a five-seater. Because you know, we don’t need that many seats anymore.

I don’t think I’m emotionally prepared for this eventuality.

I have three children. So, if I have a five-seater car, we could never road trip ever again. I don’t think it would be a good decision to line up my giant babies in a row and drive them anywhere for more than one hour. It would be carnage.

Buying a smaller-ish car/SUV would mean that family-life as I know it would be over. At least that’s what it means to me. Is that even rational?

My 16-year old son (who is biased and obviously campaigning for a chick machine), said

So you want to buy a car for the ONE time a year that we might go somewhere all together in the car for an extended period of time?

YES! Precisely.

The guy at the car dealership, who obviously has a vested interest in pushing me to the most expensive car, said

So you want to buy a car for the ONE time a year that your family might go somewhere all together in the car for an extended period of time?

YES! Precisely.

I said to my husband,

I need space for my people. You know that.

My husband said,

You know that we have one off to university, and Ben goes in another year. You know they’re growing up and leaving, right? You know you don’t have people in the same sense of the word, don’t you?

Shhhh. I walked away, shaking my head.

I couldn’t wait until my carpool days were over. I can assure you that I have less than no desire (is there even such a thing?) to drive a bunch of other people’s kids around. I don’t want the seven seats so my kids can drive their friends around, using up my gas, and leaving their curious waterbottles filled with ‘orange juice’ in my back seat.

I don’t want the seven seats to haul other people.

I want the seats because I want to haul my people. My babies.

I’m not ready to accept that my babies are not babies anymore.

Is there a 12-step program for Mothers-Who-Aren’t-Ready-For-Their-Kids-to-Grow-Up-Yet?

MWARFTKGUY. That’s catchy, right?

It’s weird. I love all of the accoutrements of having teenagers. I don’t need to pay a babysitter. I don’t have parent-teacher interviews or toys or tiny packages of anything. I have tons of free time. I don’t have to cut food up into pieces. I don’t have to drive people everywhere at all hours. I don’t have to go to birthday parties! I have my bed to myself. I can supervise decisions instead of making them. Did I mention I will never carpool again?

There are so many benefits to having older children. But, these same benefits are also negatives (except for the paying a babysitter…)

Sometimes I want to meet-the-teacher, or have someone suck all my time, or have warm bed cuddles or make absolute decisions. Sometimes I want to eat birthday cake that some kid spit all over when blowing out the candles.

Sometimes I want to drive them around. In a 7-seater vehicle.

Getting a chariot built for five means I’m accepting the inevitable. It’s symbolic of time marching.

I cannot wrap my head around the possibility that in less than five years, it will be like it was in 1993-me, the man, and the dog (well, we have two dogs now. So almost the same.)

Maybe I should extoll the benefits of being part of the boomerang generation. My son did say that when he grew up he was going to live in my basement. He was four at the time. But, kids do say the darndest things…

Anyways, please help. Do I downsize my car or do I give myself four more years to accept the way-too-quick passing of the Sands of Time?





  1. I have a rather unhealthy emotional attachment to my people mover (aka mini van) so I am right there with you! In fact, my argument would be that I want to be moving other people’s people, too. I want to be the mama who’s driving my kids’ friends and (gulp) sig figs around. But WHO AM I KIDDING!??!?! They will no have interest. Sigh.

    • OK you think you want to drive the teens around at all hours, but that will wear quickly. Actually, knowing you, it won’t.

  2. Cindy @cincoencasa says:

    Yes. It`s time to give up the Minivan.
    Maybe it`s easier for me to say that since we never had one, and we have 3 teens, but our 5 seaters have always served us well. Rent a van `for the ONE time a year that your family might go somewhere all together in the car for an extended period of time`, that`s what we did.
    I never wanted a van, my husband did `we`ve got three kids, we NEED a van!` No we don`t, and no we didn`t. We do have 2 cars, and many times for birthday parties both cars would be filled with kids going to the bowling alley, the movie theatre, go-kart track..but we would`ve still needed a 2nd vehicule even if we`d had a van.
    My 16 and 15yr old sons are both tall, and my 19yr old daughter takes up a lot of space in the car with her `stuff`, but it`s `cozy` as I like to put it, when we go somewhere all 5 of us together. Can`t go far like that mind you, but it is doable.
    Step away from the minivan.

    • So, don’t you want life to be easy instead of do-able? I’m still not sold on ‘cozy’ when driving places with children, no matter how old they are.

  3. I’m with Cindy on this one. Rent a big rig when you take a family road trip, but for the rest…I see you in a snazzy Mini. And your 12-step program name is a bit short, non?

    • There’s no way a mini. Seriously? I could slide under things in that. And, we could NEVER go anywhere together in a mini. Like even to the mall. Where would I put my huge purse?

  4. I say keep the van. I love mine. It’s my badge of Mom Honor. And btw, I love driving other kids around. This too will end, I know, so I am preserving my (their) youth with my choice of car for as long as I possibly can.

  5. GREAT post and I can relate, but in a different way!
    I grew up driving a minivan and we currently own a Ford Windstar. We are in the market for a new vehicle and I want to get one that seats three rows of people.
    I have two children, but they will likely start to have friends that we will enjoy carting around with us. Occasionally I will drive my niece to come stay with us for a visit etc. etc.
    It’s a hard decision and my hubby says the same thing, “You want a HUGE vehicle for the once or twice a year that we need more space?” Well….YES, yes I do! I want to be that Mom who is willing to cart around 6 other kids 😉 Maybe it’s because deep down, I wish I had 6 kids of my own!

  6. We too are in the same position. I have a van that seats 8, because I have three kids and if each wanted to bring a friend there would be enough room. Well, in January the youngest is switching universities, so we will officially be empty nesters, at least until summer break. So do we get rid of the 8 seater van, no, because yesterday after taking all the extra seats out, it was filled with the new bathtub we bought. I have replaced my children, who are no longer children with things.

  7. Love this post. My kids are still little so my friends and I are always having the conversation “should we get a minivan?” I don’t have one yet, but my parents do, my sister does, and my brother does…’s only a matter of time. I’m a horrible parrallel parker (my way of dealing with this is just not doing it), so a minivan scares me! I can’t fathom not wanting to let a minivan go, but hinsight is 20/20, talk to me in 10 years when my first born is going off to college and I’m sure I’ll be holding on to every little peice of them I can. I don’t even have a dog!

  8. Ugh, I hated my parents’ minivan and will never go that route! Subaru station wagons for us. Still a bit “family truckster,” but small enough for me to drive comfortably — including parallel parking, they are zippy and handle great, seat 5, and have trunk space and a roof rack for all the stuff.

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