I had plans of being a cool mom with an SUV. I had one kid and a Honda Pilot. Life was good. Then I was pregnant with #2, and my #1 kid developed a penchant for flinging open doors. Dent, dent, boo. So it didn’t take long before we were out minivan shopping.
The doors aren’t the only reason to move into the minivan, but they are certainly at the top of the list. Push a button, ta-da. It’s heavenly.
That was five years ago, and our former door-flinger now has three siblings, so we’ve played musical chairs with the many seating options of the minivan. There were some clear winners, and we appreciate the flexibility of making the van work for us.
(for reference, we have a 7-passenger Honda Odyssey and removed the second-row console)
Two Kids: The best of both worlds
With two, for everyday use, we put them both in the middle row and folded down the rear seats. This put both kids close and left a TON of storage space in the back. It was like a minivan/SUV hybrid. What does a mom need all that space for? A double BOB stroller and a Costco trip will fill that up fast.
Three Kids: Space, space, baby
This is really where I love the flexibility of the minivan. With three kids, we put the two older in the back and then took out one of the captain chairs in the middle. Completely removed it. This extra room was amazing. I was able to easily reach the one in the back that couldn’t buckle herself. There was extra floor space for changing diapers. And I could climb in, shut the doors, and had space to nurse comfortably.
Four Kids: The gang’s all here
There really aren’t any creative options for four in carseats. We’ve got the standard – two in the middle and two in the back, plus space for my lucky teenage nephew to squeeze in the middle of the third row on occasion. The rear-facing littles in the middle enjoy the entertainment of the big siblings in the back.
Other logistics to consider about seating arrangements:
- Convenience for loading – I have always put the baby on the side closest to the door to the house. That way I don’t have to lug the infant carrier all the way around the car in the garage. We’ve had some tight garage arrangements, so this makes it much easier.
- Car line – Our preschool has a car line, so I put both preschoolers on the right side of the car to be unloaded and loaded easily. I do not want to be the slow mom in the car line; those kids need to be in and out efficiently.
- Personality – We recently switched two of our kiddos because there was too much whiny “She’s looking at me!” and “She’s pointing at me!” going on between a certain combination. The new arrangement is slightly less convenient for buckling but is superior in sanity.
- Latch attachments and rear anchors – For installing carseats, we looked at which seats had latch hooks and also where the rear anchor hooks were located. Safety first! (with bigger seats and bigger kids, make sure you’re following the installation guidelines for weight limits; the latch installation isn’t always the best choice)
So don’t feel locked into the traditional seating set-up. If you’ve got a minivan, take advantage of your options, and maybe one of these will work for your family.