Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Jumping to the Minivan

Our minivan was in a coma and we bought the Big Van. I love the Big Van. We were able to haul our entire family to Florida and New Jersey each twice in it. We have put our minivan back on the road. I am enjoying the minivan, especially its nimbleness in parking lots.

In one of the online groups that I belong to, a woman was pregnant with her fourth child. She had no choice but to jump to the minivan before the baby was born. She was asking for advice on which minivan to choose. Inspired by her quest, since it wasn't so long ago, I am going to share our jump to the minivan.

My first minivan was a 2003 Ford Windstar. I was pregnant with my third. I had flown out to New Jersey because a friend had an emergency. I needed a way to get around New Jersey. I also needed a minivan anyway. I bought my minivan in New Jersey.

I want to pause and talk about why I jumped to the minivan when I was expecting my third and not my fourth. My Nissan Versa at the time did not fit three car seats big enough for my babies. When my third was born, my oldest would not quite be 2.5. He was no where near ready for the booster. I could have perhaps used a Chicco KeyFit (the smallest rear facing car seat) but the weight capacity in them at the time (they have since reengineered and allowed more weight) was small. It would just buy a few months. I would say that most families who have three kids in three or four years as opposed to two and a half would be able to get away with the skinniest booster (the Ride Safer Travel Vest) in the middle. Most families can wait until the fourth to jump to the minivan.

I loved my Windstar! When I was pregnant with my fifth, a drunk driver hit us and totaled it. I still miss it! We replaced the Windstar with a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country. I lost my deductible, because of course the man that hit us didn't have insurance. It is part of his restitution order. I'm still waiting.

I remember when I jumped to the minivan, it felt big. Prior to the minivan, I only drove little cars- a Jetta, 3 Corollas, and a Versa. I drove my husband's pickup a little, but I never felt comfortable in it. The minivan felt like a bus, but now it feels small. I am a little car person and if I had been able to make the car seats work, I would have been happy staying with a little car.
Her's what my minivan looks like at Mount Rushmore.
We converted our current minivan, the 2005 Chrysler Town and Country, from a 7 passenger into an 8 passenger. Our minivan was a simple seat style, not a Stow n' Go. The far rear three passenger seat was able to be moved into the middle position. The minivan had holes in the floor that would fit the three passenger seat in the middle. Someone gave us a three passenger seat from another vehicle. It snapped into the floor in the spots from the manufacturer. Viola! Our seven passenger minivan was now eight passenger. I checked with my insurance company at the time (Liberty Mutual) and our current insurance company (Farm Bureau) and they were both fine with it.
This isn't the best picture, but it's real. You can
see the tan three passenger seat in our gray minivan.
You can also see my daughter climbing in the minivan
through the trunk, our seat covers, and the baby's rear-facing
seat. I always loaded the rear-facing baby from the trunk.
Most minivans do not come in such simple seat styles. If you have a growing family, getting another year or so out of a minivan, delaying going from the minivan to the Big Van, is a huge savings. I would recommend a minivan with a simple seat style like mine so the conversion can be done easily. There is a company in Lakewood NJ that manufactures special seats to convert a 7 passenger into an 8 passenger by putting a seat into the very middle spot.

I'm a huge fan of the minivan. I hope that I have helped you to discern your jump to the minivan. I discuss a lot of the minivan's features in my other blogpost, here.

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