Back in May of 2008, I read an article that Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer wrote for BlogHer, entitled “Ditching the Second Car?” This could be thought of as a slow choice; maintaining only one vehicle instead of two could simplify and slow down a family.
But I think U.S. families around me have a hard time imagining life with only one vehicle, so I asked my good friend Trish Southard, who has been making-do with only one car for a while, to write about that experience for NotSoFastBook.com.
Meet Trish (who, by the way, is also a contributor to the “Live from the Slow Zone” section of Not So Fast):
During our years in Tucson, our small group read a book by Randy Frazee entitled Making Room for Life. The Navigator staff couple leading the group asked us to read and implement Frazee’s recommended changes in every area of our life.
Our first challenge was purchasing a home within walking distance to our daughter’s school and the market, and within bike-riding distance to work and church in good weather. Our perfect location would also have the junior high school athletic fields and tennis courts where our daughter was able to take private tennis lessons less than a block away. Our previous drive was 30 minutes in each direction. When we finally bought our home, it fit our criteria perfectly, situated within walking distance, just as we hoped.
The second thing we did when our second vehicle finally died, is choose not to purchase another vehicle. Instead, we chose to “do without” for a season of life, thus freeing ourselves from the additional expense and hassle of a second car (car payments, fuel and repair costs, insurance). We now have less windshield time, and more family time. We recently moved again and determined that our new home needed to fall into similar categories to be a “go.” As I walked home from work today, it took me exactly 16 minutes.
These steps have had hidden blessings of sunshine in the occasional cloud of inconvenience. The first is time — time on the road and time together. Windshield time has been reduced dramatically, and we have stopped going in all different directions. Instead, we more frequently move in the same direction as a family—laughing, exercising and simply enjoying each other’s company as we are “forced” to physically be in each other’s presence and one another’s lives more often. It’s wonderful! We communicate each day about our various errands, talking through our day instead of living out our lives separately.
In our new home, the school, tennis courts, restaurants, market and work are also in close proximity to our neighborhood. We find that walking anywhere or riding our bikes not only provides refreshing time together, but also models to our daughter a way of life together—a smarter, simpler lifestyle for our teen that in a big metropolitan area looks more like small-town living and values.
Our daughter had a flat tire recently. Undeterred, she rode her skateboard beside me as I rode my bike to the new breakfast spot that opened nearby. We have ridden our bikes to the orthodontist, our family doctor, the post office and the library, all in ten minutes or less, usually less. I even rode my bike to pay my recent speeding ticket at the local police station; and no, I wasn’t riding my bike when I received the speeding ticket. It was my first ticket in twenty-three years.
My husband keeps our one car in tip-top shape, keeping up with maintenance and repairs. A nice treat is that all the money we save from not keeping up a second car frees up plenty of funds to rent a car when taking long trips out-of-town. When attending a women’s retreat in Dallas, I was able to rent a very nice sedan for the weekend from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
My encouragement to you? Park a car for a day or a weekend and try living a simpler life. Work up to a month and perhaps permanently, if possible. Methodically move towards a slower and healthier lifestyle, creating a tight-knit family in today’s jam-packed world. Free yourself up. Financial benefits? Yes. Smaller carbon footprint? Yes. Better family relationships? Yes. And most of all, and of all relationships in your life, free up time to cultivate your relationship with God—make room for life lived in Christ.
Resting in Him,