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How to change a tire with a toddler

Have you ever heard the expression that cleaning with kids in the house is kind of like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos? Well, trying to change a flat tire with a toddler in tow is a little like that. Plus danger.

Let’s say you’re driving down the road doing the classic mom surveillance — glancing every two and a half seconds at your toddler in the backseat to make sure he hasn’t managed to Houdini himself out of his restraints or, if he’s sleeping, to make sure he’s still breathing (I’m not the only parent who still does that, right?).

Then, you hear it… the dreaded “fwap-fwap-fwap-fwap.” The telltale sound of a flat tire. In case you cruise into this fate in your near future, we’ve put together a short how-to for fixing a flat with a toddler in tow. So buckle up, baby… you’re in for a bumpy ride.

1. First, you’re going to want to put on your blinker and ease onto the side of the road. Because cars have now transitioned from inconsequential things you barely notice when you’re driving to speeding projectiles of death hurtling toward you, you pull over as far as humanly possible without people wondering if you’re actually trying to cross into the opposite lane of traffic. While doing so, you must maneuver around mile markers, guard rails and about a million whys from your inquisitive toddler.

2. Next, put on your emergency lights and promptly put in frantic calls to your husband, father, brother and that one incredibly resourceful girlfriend who could out-MacGyver MacGyver. Naturally, because this is a time-sensitive and entirely terrifying situation, no one picks up. Once you accept that you have to go it alone, grab the vehicle instruction manual out of the glove compartment. Flip through the designated tire-changing procedure, reassuring yourself that if you gave birth to a 9-pound baby without an epidural, you can surely kick this flat tire’s ass.

3. Before getting out of the car, roll down the window nearest your toddler so you can maintain some semblance of eye contact. While cars and trucks traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour (or, you know, somewhere in that range) whiz by — nearly taking your blouse and resolve with them — locate the jack.

4. With the aforementioned jack in hand, check on your toddler, hastily pacify him with a handful of Goldfish and then crouch down to the deflated tire. Immediately curse (What? Your kid totally can’t hear you over the passing traffic) upon realizing you forgot to lodge heavy objects in front of the tires. Scanning the roadside devoid of anything heavy besides your hopes, you peek into your car. Your toddler sees you, prompting a crying fit and desperate pleas to be picked up. Locate his sippy cup so you can get back to your thoughts. What the heck are you supposed to do? Wedge a carseat in front of the wheel? Make a mental note to keep a bag of rocks in the trunk of your car at all times.

5. Grab the spare tire before heading back to the flat tire. Position the jack correctly, say a prayer that your definition of “correctly” is, in fact, correct and raise the jack until it is supporting the car. Make another mental note to step up your upper body workout routine, ’cause any more resistance and your arms would literally turn into jelly.

6. Pick up the lug-nut-remover, making yet another mental note to actually learn the name of the tool you are about to use to loosen the lug nuts. A wrench? That sounds right. Using the wrench, begin turning the lug nuts counterclockwise to loosen them. Promptly realize those little suckers are latched on there tighter than a tick. Become distracted by your toddler, who has managed to pull the wipes out of his diaper bag and is now throwing them out of the window like rice at a wedding. Pry the package of wipes out of his hands, then scramble to pick up the discarded sheets.

7. Turn your attention back to the lug nuts. Put your body weight behind that wrench, girl. Finally, you feel the resistance break. Along with your kneecaps, perhaps, which you fear will forevermore bear the pebbly indentation of asphalt. With sweat now pouring down your face, raise the jack until the tire is off the ground, simultaneously freaking out your kid. As quickly as your jello arms and pebbly knees can muster, remove the flat tire and replace it with the spare. Tighten the lug nuts, lower the jack and start putting everything back, all the while singing “Old MacDonald” to keep your kid from dissolving into full-fledged hysterics. Pack everything back up and retreat back inside the safety of the front seat and the oddly comforting familiarity of your screaming child.

8. Or… you could skip all of this hassle and choose Bridgestone tires. Then, the next time you get a flat, simply drive (if your tire isn’t too mangled) or have roadside assistance tow your car to the nearest Bridgestone, where they’ll take care of it for you. You know, minus the hurtling death projectiles.

More on being a super mom

What moms really think when cleaning up kid messes
8 Ways to manage sticky toddler messes
How to deal when your husband’s always on the road

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