When I reached out to Julie Forbes about trying out the Parking Pal for this sponsored post, she told me she’d already been using them for months. Y’all know I love when we get to work with brands that we already know and love. I think a lot of you are going to 1. totally relate to the humor of this and 2. find yourself wondering if this might be a good solution for you. I love when this combo comes together.
It was one of those days. I woke up on a Sunday morning and realized we didn’t have a scrap of food in the house. I was only half-way through my husband’s two-week out of town work trip, I figured it would be hours before any of our college-aged baby-sitters would be awake, and our closest family members live 2,000 miles away. I put on my rally cap, and did what only the bravest of moms will do: I took all three little kids to the grocery store by myself. Gulp.
We managed to make it through there relatively pain-free. I only had to buy 3 of the 10 things the kids begged for, and only one carton of eggs got broken in the process. I’ll call that a success. Bonus points for the always-friendly Trader Joe’s employee who insisted on pushing my cart out to the parking lot. I was nailing this!
In an effort to hurry things along, I decided that it would be better to trick the kids than actually give them a defiable instruction. I walked out of the sliding doors with my one year old on my hip, and I excitedly said to my 2 and 4 year old, “Hey guys, who wants to show the grocery store employee where our car is?” They took off running straight for the car. Suckers.
I felt like I had it all together, when all of the sudden a 20-something year old dude, who kind of resembled Dax Shepard, yelled at me, “They’re going to kill themselves! You can’t let them do that!” Then, he turned to the kids, “You can’t EVER run in the parking lot. You’re going to get hit by a car!”
I was stunned. Surely, this must be a friend of the Trader Joe’s guy who was trying to make his friend laugh? But, judging by the way the store employee was staring intently at the wheels of the cart, and refusing to make eye-contact with me, I realized that nope, he was just as embarrassed as I was.
Sure, my kids were running through the parking lot. But, the only other businesses in this parking lot are a Forever 21 and a college bar. It was a Sunday morning. In a college town. The parking lot was deserted. I had my eye on the kids, and there weren’t any other cars near us. But still, it was mortifying.
Like anyone, I have my days when I don’t feel like I’m the best mom I can be. Maybe I feel like I have been allowing too much screen time, or I haven’t been reading enough books, or I’m not watching the kids’ diet the way I should. But, this… this was different. Some know-it-all basically called me out for not doing the only real job you’re supposed to do as a parent: keep your kids alive.
I confided in my best friend and told her about my embarrassment. She said, “Don’t give that guy another thought! He has no idea what it’s like to be home with three little kids all day long, while you’re pregnant, and you’re husband’s always at work.” She added angrily, “He wouldn’t last a day in your shoes!”
“Yeah! She’s right!” I kept telling myself. But, I couldn’t shake it. After several fake arguments with this guy in my head (who I now fully picture looking exactly like Dax Shepard), I realized, ugh, maybe he was right.
Maybe I was so worried about the current dirty dozen list, getting my kids into the Spanish immersion school, and teaching them phonic blends, that I was missing the big picture. I had never really talked to them about parking lot safety. I purposely give my kids lots of freedoms, so that they’ll figure things out on their own. But, when it comes to life and death, I realized maybe Dax (as I am now calling him) had a point. I was so busy sweating the small stuff, I was missing the big stuff.
I remembered seeing a product on the internet that I thought could help me and the kids. I googled, “parking lot circle magnet,” and up came exactly what I had been looking for, the Parking Pal Magnet.
The Parking Pal is a product designed by a mom who had kids about the same age as mine. Just like me, she would stress when she was getting the baby in and out of the car, trying to keep track of the other two. So, she designed the Parking Pal. It’s a brightly colored circle magnet that you can stick on your car. The kids put their hand on it as they’re waiting for mom or dad, and you have every child corralled in one spot.
I bought two of them, along with the Parking Pal book, “Cars Are Big, and I am Small.”
When everything came in the mail, I read the book with the kids. It was a great way to have the conversation about parking lot safety, and what they should and shouldn’t do. The kids each picked out their magnet and we put them on the car.
They instantly got it. I was shocked that I didn’t even have to remind them to go to it. They were so excited to touch “their” sticker. It quickly became a game of, “who can get to their magnet first.” While walking, of course.
Months later, the kids are still into “their” magnet, and things are much calmer and safer in the parking lot. Many other parents love the magnet too, and have been asking Parking Pal for a more permanent solution. So, Parking Pal will soon be adding a Parking Pal decal to its website. Like all of Parking Pal’s products, this too will be made in the U.S.A.
They have also come out with a Penalty Pal, so parents can designate a spot for Time Out. My kids have grasped the idea of the Parking Pal so much, I may have to give it a try.