How we’re preparing to have a kid behind the wheel this winter

Parenting

We live in a rural area of southwestern Ontario, and the winters can be brutal. It’s not uncommon for schools to be cancelled and roads to be closed due to extreme winter conditions. In fact, driving can be so bad that people tend to avoid scheduling major events during the worst part of winter, just in case there is a winter storm.

Given our precious cargo—a.k.a. our four kids—my husband and I have always been extra cautious when it comes to driving in the winter. This year, even more so: My stepdaughter recently got her license, which means she will be experiencing her first year of winter driving. While it’s great that she can get herself to and from work and help chauffer the younger kids to their extra curriculars, as a parent this new freedom adds to the extensive list of things that we worry about.

What if she gets stuck? What if she ends up in a ditch? What if she slides when she comes to a stop sign? Does she know about black ice? What if something happens and her phone is dead? The list goes on.

Jamie Scrimgeour shares her winter driving tips now that her teen stepdaughter is getting behind the wheel

The reality is, kids grow up. They go out into the world. All we can do is ensure that they are prepared for those “what ifs”. And no matter who is driving, it’s important to ensure that your car is winter ready. In partnership with Michelin, I’m sharing a few things that we try and do before the first snow fall so that we don’t find ourselves unprepared (and unsafe) when winter hits.

1. Ensure there is a phone charger in the car

With four kids, it seems like phone chargers are always going MIA, but we’ve made a point to ensure that there is always at least one in the car. We want to have the ability to call for help if needed in case of an emergency.

2. Pack a blanket plus extra hats and mitts in the back

We want to make sure that we have extra layers for warmth if we slide into a ditch. Plus, we’re a hockey family, so it’s nice to have options for the arena!

Jamie Scrimgeour shares her winter driving tips now that her teen stepdaughter is getting behind the wheel

3. Keep a spare pair of boots in the car

In the winter, we don’t always want to wear big heavy boots when we’re out and about—but we do make sure that we all have boots in the car, just in case something happens and we need to walk for help. Having to walk through the snow on a rural road wearing inappropriate shoes would quickly make a bad day even worse. (Not to mention the risk of frostbite!)

4. Load up on extra windshield washer fluid

I can’t even tell you how many times I ran out of windshield washer fluid as a young driver. Of course, it was always on days when cars were constantly splashing slush on my windshield. This is extremely dangerous, especially when there’s no gas station nearby to fill up. After finally learning my lesson, I always make sure there is a full container of wiper fluid in the back!

Jamie Scrimgeour shares her winter driving tips now that her teen stepdaughter is getting behind the wheel

5. Use reliable and trustworthy winter tires

Driving on snowy and icy roads is no joke. The first time I put winter tires on my car instead of all-seasons, I was floored by how much safer I felt. With extra traction and long-lasting tread, the Michelin X-Ice family of tires is specifically designed for driving in extreme winter weather conditions. They did wonders for my confidence as a winter driver—and now they’re going to do wonders for my confidence as a parent.

As with anything in life, driving in the winter is all about being prepared! While having all of these precautions in place doesn’t completely ease our anxiety about my stepdaughter being on the road, it does gives us peace of mind to know that if something were to happen, she’ll be safe and warm.

Read more:
50 essential winter activities for families
3 smart tips to help you plan your next winter road trip

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