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to feel nervous and anxious about driving with my two young kids?

(81 Posts)
artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 15:07:08

I used to be a fairly confident driver in my twenties but after a long spell in London where I never needed to drive at all, I now find myself scared and panicky about driving. I do force myself to do it occassionally but find myself making excuses. When my eldest (they're now 3) was a baby, I'd take her out if I had to in a tiny Smart Car but would only go on journeys I felt sure of.
Now we have a huge people carrier (7 seater)(between my partner and I we have 5 kids) and I am a complete wreck every time I have to go out in it. DH paid for me to have a few refresher lessons in it but still I feel scared. It is a thousand times worse when the babies (3 and 1 yr old) are in it. Not because they distract me, although they sometimes do but because I am TERRIFIED of having an accident and killing/disabling them. I cannot think if anything significant that has made me feel like this but it started to happen around the time my eldest child was a few weeks old and DP expected me to start driving with her in the car.
It also doesn't help that we don't have a drive and have to park "the beast" often quite a way from the house..not easy getting the buggy and two little ones safely in/out of the car in a bust street.
Am I being a pathetic wimp? I'm underconfident of my own driving ability and wary of everyone elses.
Do I keep forcing myself to drive or give up?

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 15:08:09

Sorry about lack of paragraphs..typing in a hurry before battery dies.

Sunfleurs Tue 13-Oct-09 15:10:31

Keep doing it.

I have severe panic disorder and about 6 weeks ago for a month or so I could barely leave the house because I had massive panic attacks whenever I did, couldn't even take my kids to park.

I read loads of self help books and saw my GP and they all said the same thing, you have to keep on doing it, let the anxiety maximise and keep going no matter how hard until your body and mind recognise that there is nothing to actually be scared of. Its not easy though but it does work. I still feel panicky and anxious a lot of the time but at least I am not agoraphobic, which is what I was getting to be because I kept making myself do the things that scared me.

Maybe see your GP, this sounds like Anxiety Disorder to me. Does anything else worry you like this?

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 15:18:32

I'm a naturally anxious person unfortunately. I also tend to be a little neurotic and am a worrier.
Mostly my feelings are controllable but I promised a friend I'd visit her place this week (she's visited me twice already) and although it's days away, I'm worried about driving to the point that looking at my kids gives me a lump in my throat because I'm scared stiff I'll put them through an accident or worse. The journey is only a 15 minute one invloving a fairly ok dual carriageway.
I'm pathetic.

MrsBadger Tue 13-Oct-09 15:49:31

sunfleurs is right

Like you I had a long London interlude where I didn;t drive at all, and was very anxious about restarting when we left London - hated driving DH's car to help out on long trips etc, took the bus whenever possible etc

Eventually the reality of life in the sticks with dcs meant I had to drive - DH practically forced me to buy a car and I made myself drive every single day, even if it was only to get a paper, as I knew if I skipped a day I'd never do it again...
Put it this way, if it takes (say) 20 trips to overcome the fear and become a confident driver, that's only 3 wks if you drive every day, and once the fear has gone it has GONE and you will be fine.
But if you avoid it and wuss out and let the fear build up between trips it might take years, or you might never get over it.

My mum never learnt to drive and to be quite frank it is a PITA - she is fine for day-to-day stuff but in emergencies and crises (eg impending birth of dc2 hmm) she has to be ferried about, picked up from stations etc and ends up being more of a burden than a help...

MummyDoIt Tue 13-Oct-09 15:53:19

Do keep at it. I learned to drive late in life (late thirties) and was very nervous to start with. I was okay pottering about town but terrified of motorways or long journeys, especially with the DSs in the car. Then DH got ill and couldn't drive so I just had to get on with it. The first few times were awful and I was so nervous but I gradually got used to it. I drive absolutely anywhere now, think nothing of a four hour journey on motorways and couldn't imagine not being able to do it. Do persevere - you'll feel so proud of yourself when you achieve that confidence.

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 16:02:51

I used to drive up and down motorways between the south and the north where my family live, often in less than reliable cars.
Now the thought of a motorway drive has my stomach in knots.
My DH is a fast, confident driver. He's used to London driving, having driven all over the city all his life.
Now a trip down the road has me anxious. I get flustered fastening the kids in their seats then sit with my hands clammy and my heart racing. Am

Am terrified of "forgetting" something or a lapse in concentration.
When I was pregnant I offered to drive DH somewhere so he could have a drink. The car at the time was manual (I had been used to automatics) and I "forgot" the pedal postion and tried to break with the clutch and crashed into (luckily I suppose since it was a minor bump) my dad's car infront.
Luckily our present car is an automatic but still...

dollyparting Tue 13-Oct-09 16:06:37

When I was learning to drive, and I was nervous and timid, I had a fantastic instructor. He showed me that it you drive confidently then other people will get out of the way. It was so true.

Another truth is that you car is massively more protected now than ever before, so even if you did have a bump, the car is designed to crumple up, with the metal taking the impact and you and your dcs getting no more that the kind of shake you'd get on a funfair ride.

Having said all that I can understand exactly what you are going through because I suffer from vertigo, and recently had to drive over a really high mountain pass. I could feel myself starting to sweat, hyperventilate and panic. So I used "anti-panic" techniques e.g. count down from 100 in 3s...100, 97, 94, 91 etc or recite every second letter of the alphabet.... a, c, e, g, ... These approaches tie up the part of your brain that is trying to panic, keeping it busy, and leaving you calm. You don't need to worry because it is a totally different part of your brain that is active to enable you to change gear, brake, look at traffic lights etc.

happywomble Tue 13-Oct-09 16:19:09

I would try and go out driving on your own a bit in the evenings when your DH is looking after the children. If you are feeling ok driving on your own that is one step.

Then when you are going out with the children ensure they are all safely strapped in, put some cheery music on and focus solely on driving the car. Try not to think of the children in the back but watching the other traffic on the road.

I passed my test, didn't drive for years and then started driving again when pregnant with my youngest. It makes such a difference knowing I can take the children to places by car in the week. I also feel more confident generally knowing I am able to drive and not solely dependent on public transport or my DH driving me everywhere.

I think once you start you will remember how to drive very quickly and you will feel less anxious.

Milliways Tue 13-Oct-09 16:26:01

Sorry, but I read this as being anxious when your kids start driving! That is when you definately ARE allowed to be nervous grin

Hope you manage some quiet practice soon to get your confidence back up.

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 16:38:01

Another thing, when we're out with DH driving, we see so many dangerous things from other drivers, people pulling out without looking, forgetting to indicate, changing lanes with no warning....I'm amazed there are not more accidents and the majority of us are never invloved in anything serious.
I hate the risks involved.

freakname Tue 13-Oct-09 16:44:59

I think it's another one of those things that shift slightly once you become a mum. I remember feeling incredibly responsible for them and worrying about something happening in the car.
It's not so much my driving but like someone else said you see the way other people drive (not indicating, cutting you up at speed) and think OMG they could cause me to have an accident even if I am being as careful as I can be.
I don't have problems in town but I still leave all the motorway driving to DH. I hope I will conquer this soon though.

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 17:20:07

Freakname, this is partially what panics me. You never know when someone could put your life at risk or at the very least, wreck your car and shake you up.
I wish I could practice my driving more, especially in this big car. The only good thing is it's quite battered already (2nd hand Ford Galaxy) so the odd scratch, dent isn't a problem.
It's just loading the kids and all their kit into the car is such an arse, even more so if it's parked right down the end of the street and in the evenings I just want the kids off to bed then to relax and wind down.
I live in a roughish part of London too and there are a lot of young lads driving around like maniacs.
I guess as the kids get older public transport with them will be easier but there are still places that are difficult to get to by bus.
I wish I couldn't drive then I wouldn't feel such a stupid wimp...fact is, I do have a driving licence but I'm too wet to make use of it.

freakname Tue 13-Oct-09 17:43:20

artless it does get better so don't give up. You really need to be mobile with young children or you end up with limited options.
Are there some things that could remain in the car? What exactly are the difficulties loading/unloading them? Maybe we can help you work out better logistics?

mumblechum Tue 13-Oct-09 17:49:47

The only way around this problem is to practice, practice, practice.

If I were you I'd spend several hours a week driving without the children, as it seems to be carrying them around that freaks you out.

A couple of weeks of accident-free driving later, I'm sure you'll be able to cope with them in the back.

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 17:52:26

We have an expensive double buggy and DH won't let me leave it in tha car in the street as we apparently (we've just moved here but DH grew up here) live in a dodgy area.
We're living with family at the mo to clear some debts. Not ideal and it also means I don't really know the roads etc but I do have a TomTom.
Freakname, I'm making excuse really. Yes, it is a hassle carrying kids/buggies to the car but it's doeable.
We are in an area with plenty of playgroups, a gps, park, nurseries within walking distance so we are getting out and about but I wish I didn't have this phobia/fear.
It's so crap making excuses to other driving mums not to drive over to them....I feel like a complete loser.

artlesschaos Tue 13-Oct-09 17:56:42

yes, mumblechum. It is having them in the back that freaks me out the most.
I'm scared of killing them in an accident or another driving killing them.
Funnily enough I don't worry about other people driving them places, it's just me.
It's a complete lack of confidence too. Whether that's justified or not, I don't know.
My hesitance and nerves probably don't make myself the safest driver.
DH says I never go fast enough to kill anyone! blush

freakname Tue 13-Oct-09 17:57:53

You soon get a bearing of a new neighbourhood, even if it's only one or two routes. Honestly don't give up. It won't go away on it's own.

AngryFromManchester Tue 13-Oct-09 17:58:43

go a small journey every day
then make that journey longer and longer

never put pressure on yourself to go further than you are comfotable to begin with

and remember experience only comes from experience

you can do it girl

mumblechum Tue 13-Oct-09 18:06:05

Angry's right.

I'm afraid your dh is also right, imo it's often the slow, indecisive drivers who cause the most accidents.

notevenamousie Tue 13-Oct-09 18:06:27

Don't drive then. It's the most dangerous thing you can do with your kids in the name of good parenting. I just don't think it's worth the risk if it can be at all avoided. It's appropriate anxiety I think, and it's fine to say that it's not a risk you are prepared to take. I don't put my dd in the car except in emergencies.

mumblechum Tue 13-Oct-09 18:09:45

You can't say don't drive, Mousie!!

How on earth can anyone live a normal life, assuming they don't live in a city centre, if they can't get around independently?
I work a fair way from home so spend 2 hours a day on the motorway plus the best part of an hour on narrow country roads as well.

I know someone who can't drive, tho' they have a family car and she's completely stuffed, can only go to things within walking distance which is just crazy.

happywomble Tue 13-Oct-09 18:10:49

It was observation of some other people's bad driving when they gave me lifts that made me sort my own driving out. If you are driving you are in control and can drive within the speed limits and the correct distance from the car in front. If other people give your child lifts they may be less cautious. There are risks walking too.

gloiredemonpere Tue 13-Oct-09 18:11:17

Get DC's to drive you around instead! Children take so much for granted these days. You can have loads of fun in the back seat, you can start a fight over nothing, spill Fruit Shoot over the car seats grind crisps into the upholstery and say "are we there yet?" 800 times an hour it will soon make you forget your nervousness. You can come to My Dinner Party too on Fri Night (I will send a car around at 8:00, its BYO and we will have Patlor Games!

notevenamousie Tue 13-Oct-09 18:21:58

You have to make a few changes - but personally, I think it is worth it. I'll drive myself, but not dd. It's just not safe.

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