Car seats

Other car seats are available

Among the joys of having grandchildren, one going on four and one soon to be two, dealing with the car safety seats is not one of them. This isn’t going to be some anti-woke rant about mollycoddling children and how we managed without them when we were young. Far from it, they are an absolute must as the danger to a child in even a small accident can be great. No, I am all in favour of child safety seats. But they are a nightmare!

On the days that we look after the grandchildren we inevitably need to take them somewhere and so the seats need to be transferred from one car, or the garage if I am lucky, into my car. One is an isofix which clips directly onto some brackets in the adult seat, while the other uses the seat belt to keep it secure. They have been designed very well and are easy to fit – or so they are supposed to.

Given plenty of space, time and light they must be a doddle but try putting them in in the dark, when it’s cold and you can’t open the car doors wide enough because it’s parked next to another and it is a different picture. 

The isofix seat is so large that it just fits through the rear door in my car. I have to move the front seat as far forward as possible to get it in. It also has a telescopic leg which manages to extend by itself to an unusable length. Shortening it takes two hands, which you don’t have as one is still trying to support the seat or to stop you from falling over. Getting the isofix to catch requires you to prostrate yourself on the back seat, huffing and puffing to get everything lined up.

The other seat sounds more complicated as the seat belt has to be fed over the back of the seat (It’s facing backwards) though it’s fairly straightforward other than trying to find the seat belt catch when you can’t see what you are doing.

I know these sound like first world problems, because they are but I cannot believe that these seats were ever tested in the wild. They work perfectly well as intended but life gets in the way. When you are in a hurry they are a source of immense irritation and I am glad that the children are not around to hear what comes out of my mouth.

Please, please, please when you are designing something, get out and try it IRL. As a French colleague once said to me, ‘they work in practice but do they work in theory?’

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