Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fuel for family

We try very hard to constantly assess how we are living and identify areas that we can reduce our impact on the finite resources of this planet.

We do fairly well in many areas but there is one thing I feel very guilty about.  Our use of fuel for transport.  We try to keep it in check by buying food in bulk and growing what vegetables we can.  This reduces our need to run to the shops.  I also often get Hubby to pick up groceries we might need as he comes home from work.  However there are many more events in our days that require us to travel.  We drive in a large and very old car that uses gas.
Our last trip to visit my daughters!  We eventually made it!!
We have weekly visits to the library and swimming lessons.  And then there's our family.....  the closest family are my parents.  They live forty five minutes driving time from us.  Hubby's parents are an hour away.

My precious adult girls live two and a half and three and a half hours away respectively.  To visit Lou Lou is a huge task.  It makes for a very long and tiring day to complete the five hour round trip plus visiting time.  I often feel like a nap when I arrive!
As for Rosie, I don't find it possible to visit her and return home in one day.  That would be seven hours of driving.  It takes us a couple of hours to get organised to even make the trip because with three children in tow, I need to pack drinks, food, books etc.

So if I want to visit Rosie, I always stay at least one night.  I don't want to miss the special moments that are represented in these photos.  My granddaughters are beautiful and changing every day.  I want them to know us.

I would have loved to live close to my daughters.  I always imagined being the kind of grandmother that was called upon regularly.  I would have loved to look after my grandchildren while my daughters shopped, went to the doctor or had a night with their partners.  I'd love to be an everyday part of the little girls' lives as they learn to crawl, walk, start kinder, learn to read.  I'd love to be able to support my daughters on a practical and emotional level as they journey through the tough task of parenting.  I'd love to enjoy their company just for fun!  So, for me, there is a real sense of missing out because of the distance that separates us.  However, I understand my daughter's choices to live elsewhere.  They made good decisions and are living good lives.
So given that I can't have my dream of children living in my local community, I choose to visit as often as I can (which is about once every couple of months).  This uses a lot of fuel.  At least they live in the same direction so that I can usually make each trip count twice.

There are also many other things that take me out in the car locally.  I have so many things I want to learn and be involved with!  I attend workshops, swap markets, local farmer's markets and visit anyone willing to teach me new skills.  Only this week, I was lucky enough to be invited to visit a biodynamic dairy goat farm.  It was a drive of forty minutes but I didn't want to miss the visit for the world!
Do you do better than me in the fuel department?  Maybe it doesn't bother you or maybe you've found a solution.  It is something I have a real dilemma over.  I know I am choosing to justify driving whenever I want to do something badly but that doesn't make it right.  I would love your thoughts.  Keep in mind, in our rural situation, nothing is nearby and bikes are out of the question on our tiny, dirt roads with three children to take with me.


Lynda D said...

I think you are doing fine. You more than make up for this carbon usage in other areas. Dont feel guilty, just enjoy your many activities with and without your children.

Barb said...

I echo what Lynda said. The fact that it worries you puts you ahead of the rest. We also live out of town and do similar sorts of things. Shop once a fortnight, group errands together, and I visit my elderly folks 2.5 hours away every fortnight staying one or two nights. I notice some of our local neighbours going out 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 times a day. Stupid.

rabidlittlehippy said...

I'm a true hermit and rarely leave the house to be very honest. It makes me happy enough but for my home ed kids I need to get out more. We also drive a large car (Mitsu Delica diesel) and I hate that it's not very fuel economical. Still, we need a large car and 4x4 so this was the car that fitted us best.
I've just changed my daughters dance class to one in town which is a 1 minute drive (if it's not fine enough to walk. I hated the long uphill haul from Bacchus Marsh to Ballan. :(
My hubby catches the train into work each day and walks to the station and he too picks up shopping on the way home. It works out more in shopping though as he picks up small amounts most nights. There's got to be a balance somewhere.
I think it's a hard call but the reality is that yes, fuel is going to get dearer as it runs out. The amount of fuel 1 family uses is negligible in the sceme of things but yes, when multiplied by however many families. I'm not sure there is a happy medium as there is a price to pay either way. No driving means no socialising and that's not much fun nor is it healthy but driving everywhere makes for happy people and a sad planet.
I think you're doing a good job and being conscious of the situation is most of the battle dealt with. I can only say well done on thinking about your fuel use. That's more than most people do besides from an affordability point of view.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I look on fuel as I do money. saving on little things to enable spending on larger things occasionally. For us this means using the car little on a day to day basis and then making sure each journey takes in several tasks. We then travel to the west country once a month throughout the summer to go sea fishing. This trip is 500 miles around. we do have a pretty economical car/van which runs on diesel, but clearly means using a lot of fuel.
If I had daughters living away I feel sure that we would forgo the fishing as keeping in touch with children and grandchildren is more important. You offset your fuel bill in many other ways with your lifestyle.

africanaussie said...

Visitng both of my dear daughters means a long plane of course I only get to visit every couple of years :( I do love skype, and am hoping that with my grandchild (due next month) he will grow up recognizing his Aussie Grandma! It is a different world these days, not many kids grow up with a grandma just around the corner anymore. You are doing a great job!

Linda said...

Lynda, thank you. I just want to be sure I don't become complacent and rest on my laurels.

Barb, your neighbours must seem like mice scurrying around! A bit of planning makes our days so much nicer.

Hi Rabidlittlehippy, you are in the same position as us. We have to have a seven seater so the options aren't great.

Gill, I love that you plan for fishing in summer. Sounds lovely. I haven't mastered fishing. I never catch anything!

Africanaussie, I shouldn't whinge, should I. That must be tough, being so far from family. As you say, thank heavens for Skype!