Are you a multitasking machine? Most moms are!
While driving a car feels like second nature, there is a false perception that we can successfully multitask while we’re driving.
Moms have mastered the art of messing with the radio while they put on their make-up and hand some napkins to their messy kids at the same time… all of this while driving a high speed machine!
And while that might sound impressive, it distracts from the most important task at hand: driving. Really, the only thing that should be on your mind when you’re behind the wheel is…you guessed it…driving. Your life is at stake and it’s easy to overlook that in the midst of your daily routine.
Do as I say, not as I do. Don’t you hate it when that saying can be applied to you? I know I do. We can’t tell our kids, “Don’t text and drive,” while we are so darn distracted. I can hear my daughter now,“Stop being a hypocrite, Mom!”
For better or worse, your children will emulate your actions. The apple rarely falls far from the tree. You can expect your kids to be as focused (or distracted) as you are as a driver. Want to maximize your safety and your children’s, too? Watch out for these 5 driving mistakes most moms make. And no matter how innocent these sound (#3 in particular) they really aren’t.
1. Getting a late start
You push the snooze button too many times. Your children refuse to get out of bed when you ask. You’re afraid of being tardy, because it’s your boss/teacher’s #1 pet peeve.
People in general don’t make good decisions when they are in a rush. If you’re worried about being late for work or school, you might drive aggressively, run red lights, and break the speed limit. Bad idea.
For one thing, you could get “caught in the act” and pulled over by a police officer. Then you’ll be super late (and potentially broke depending on the cost of your fine). For another, these behaviors increase your risk of a traffic accident.
How can you prevent this situation? Embrace uncertainty. You never know when your kids will put their clothes on backwards, spill orange juice all over themselves, drop (and break) a plate, or throw a temper tantrum at the worst time possible.
How long does it take to get ready for the day when everything that can go wrong does go wrong? Set your alarm with that amount of time on mind. Sure, you’ll be early most of the time. That’s fine. Toss a book in your purse and read a chapter or two before you clock-in.
2. Multitasking in the car
If you apply the advice from point #1, you can easily remove the need for multitasking in the car.
Also, you need to understand “multitasking” does not mean what you think it means. You’re not literally doing two things at the exact same time. You are shifting focus from one task to another.
It’s impossible to look in the rear-view mirror and put on makeup while you scan the horizon for threats. You can go back and forth between those activities. But you can’t do both simultaneously.
Every second your eyes aren’t focused on the road is a second when something bad can happen. You’re driving 65-80 MPH on the Interstate. Suddenly, the big rig in front of you slams on the brakes. If you don’t react immediately, you’re dead (and so are your passengers). Is it worth the risk? No.
3. Checking on your baby
This might sound cruel, but you should never turn around to comfort your crying baby. Why not? It’s another form of multitasking. How will you see a deer crossing the street when you’re not even looking at the road? Spoiler Alert: You won’t.
I know it’s hard to resist your motherly instinct, but it’s in your best interest. If it makes you feel any better, remember your mini-me is probably fine. Children cry for many reasons: hunger, boredom, and tiredness to name a few. Did you notice how none of those issues are life or death situations?
If you must check on the baby, pull over first. You’ll do a better job of comforting your child when you can concentrate 100% on her needs. Also: get in the habit of keeping a spare pacifier and toys in the backseat. Children are less likely to have a fit when they have plenty of stuff on hand for distractions.
4. Driving when exhausted
I know what you’re thinking: “Come on, Audra… I’m a busy parent, so every day of my existence embodies the definition of ‘exhaustion.’”
That’s a fair point. Still, it’s unsafe to drive when you’re so sleepy that you can barely hold your eyes open. Studies show sleepy driving is just as bad as drunk driving; and I don’t know about you, but I shouldn’t be trusted with a car key after a few shots of tequila.
Don’t be afraid of pulling over to take a nap. Even ten minutes of sleep can make a big difference in your energy levels. Make sure to set an alarm, though, because going past thirty minutes might do more harm than good. Also, don’t forget to lock your door and park in a safe, well-lit place.
5. Letting stress frazzle you
There’s no doubt about it. Driving can be uber stressful! As a New Yorker, I know a lot about that. I’m convinced some of our taxi drivers have a death wish. Still, you can’t let it get to your head.
Anxious drivers make more mistakes than relaxed ones. Save some soothing music on your iPod. Take a few deep breaths when you start to feel nervous. Give yourself a mantra to repeat when it gets really bad. Here’s an example: “I am a calm and cool driver. Nothing can frazzle me.”
Would you add any mistakes to this list? Do you have any tips I didn’t mention that might help busy moms make better driving decisions? If so, tell us all about it in the comments.