being a mom

10 Things A Minivan Needs Before I’d Be Caught Dead Driving One

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If you are like me, a relatively young mother still desperately clinging to her last whiff of cool, you might be fighting the whole minivan thing. I have several friends who tout them as a life-changing phenomenon that they could never do without now that they are acquainted with its magic. Despite their cheery infomercial-like diatribes about the greatness of their Honda Odyssey and it’s built-in DustBuster, I remain unconvinced. I only have two children so for now, my small SUV is fine but we are getting a new car sometime in the next year so this has been on my mind lately. I do want another row of seating as we are getting into the years where our older child wants to bring a friend when we go somewhere or when I will need to take a turn in the carpool. Logically, I know the minivan is probably my best bet. Stubbornly, I remain skeptical of it’s supposed wonders. Because of my lukewarm feelings about minivans I would need them to have more than a few extra cup holders and automatic doors to woo me. See below for my list of fantasy minivan features that might convince me to own one.

1. Partition to block out whining children

2. Car seats that fold away at the push of a button so you can stop struggling to remove them

3. Fully stocked passenger side mini bar for those really long trips

4. Crumb-sensing Roomba that operates on its own

5. Censor button on the radio so you can listen to Lady Gaga without teaching your kids to say bitch

6. A nanny that pops out for trips exceeding two hours

7. Jet packs for when you are running late

8. Your angry face silk-screened on the back of the seats to keep them in line so you can stop turning around and making yourself dizzy

9. Hidden closet with full changes of clothes for the whole family for those times when someone ruins their outfit

10. Megaphone to get kids attention so they can’t pretend they don’t hear you

(Image: Monkey Business Images)



  1. Aimee Ogden

    May 29, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    We are mini-van shopping right now and it is breaking my poor, desperate-to-believe-I’m-still-even-slightly-cool heart. Not that my ten-year-old Vibe is extremely cool to begin with, I guess, but yeah, jetpacks would definitely help ease the transition. 🙁

    • Valerie

      May 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Yeah, I am delusional if I think my Honda CR-V is really any better in the “cool” department- I should probably just give in. My daughter is BEGGING for us to own a car with “magic doors”. Le Sigh.

    • Jennie Blair

      May 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      I’m the jerk who would tell her to pay for it.

    • Aimee Ogden

      May 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      MAGIC DOORS. Those are a big selling point to me, since our garage is stupidly narrow and getting car seats in and out is a ridiculous hassle. Also if we had automatic doors I could pretend I was a Jedi, so, bonus.

      We’re looking at the Mazda 5, which is at least the mini-est of minivans – we live in a city, so I really don’t see myself navigating one of those school-bus-sized monstrosities downtown! But even though it’s small it’s still pretty clearly van-shaped. Maybe I can paint some flames on the side to make it more of a Coolmommobile, I bet that won’t embarrass the kids at all once they’re in school.

    • LadyClodia

      May 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      We have a Mazda 5 and I love it; it’s all about the sliding doors, and I like that it’s not too big. I just have nerdy decals on mine, and actually the decals embarrass my 5 year old more than anything else. “Why can’t we just be normal, Mama?” “Sorry, kid, that wasn’t in the cards for you.”

    • Rachel Sea

      May 29, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      One of my cars is decaled to look like a Star Trek shuttlecraft. It is a litmus test for friendship that people not side-eye me for it.

    • LadyClodia

      May 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      That is so awesome!
      My 5 year old really doesn’t like my “kneel before Loki” family decals. My 2 year old likes it, though.

    • mrs.pigglewiggle

      May 29, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      I used to sell Mazdas and the Mazda 5 is great! It drives like a car, has decent pickup, and the interior space is well laid out. Were I be able to go back in time, I would definitely have purchased one over the Passat I bought. But it killed me to have to sell my two-seater Chrysler crossfire to buy a mom car. Every time I have to move that babyseat I have deep regret for my unfounded vanity.

  2. Alene

    May 29, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I am to the point where I actually really want one. Because life is awful and sad.

    • Valerie

      May 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      So very sad.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      May 29, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Awesome article! Crafty shit. I *would* actually cave and drive a real minivan if it had this shit. Angry mom face made me laugh b/c I DO make myself dizzy!

  3. Jennie Blair

    May 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Score one on the we are only having one kid, our Xterra will have plenty of space for the car seat and other random crap. It always makes me sad when someone brags about their new mini van or crossover.

  4. Cruelty Cupcake

    May 29, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    We’re thinking about buying a minivan too and it breaks my heart. I’m only 27!!! I keep trying to talk myself into thinking this van is cool, but I know it isn’t. Life sucks.

    • Natasha B

      May 29, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      We have a Toyota Sequioa. Hubs works for Toyota, so when it was in for the frame recall, he pulled a brand new Sienna off the lot for me, and I got to drive it for a month.
      I actually kinda missed it when I got my Beast back. (And the total at the gas pump). If you have to go minivan….it’s the least terrible, in my opinion 😉

    • Cruelty Cupcake

      May 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Good to know! I drive a Jeep so I don’t HAVE to succumb just yet, but I’m one of those lunatics who is planning on making my toddler rear-face until he gets married…and my backseat just isn’t roomy enough for two rear-facing babes.

    • Natasha B

      May 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Yep, those rear facing seats are no joke. The two yo and 4 yo seats are huuuuuge! We did switch the 2yo forward facing around 16months, but she would get so hostile whenever we strapped her in. Life has vastly improved since then.

  5. Bethany Ramos

    May 29, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I’m pretty much never going to own a minivan, #sorrynotsorry. Right now, we are making it work with one car for a four-person family with two babies. So far, so good!

    • Jayamama

      May 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      I’m in the same boat. I have two kids under three and I’m going to stay in my car as long as I can. If I do have to upgrade, as the hubs and I have talked about having one or two more kids, I’ll go to an SUV. I’m not looking forward to it.

  6. val97

    May 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I’ve been driving the same old little civic for over 15 years. Somehow we’ve managed – my husband has an economy car too. When my son gets his license, he gets my honda, and I’m going to buy something completely impractical.

    • Valerie

      May 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      My husband has drove Civics for that long too! He has a 2012 now but he drove his 1998 Civic alllll the way until that point. They last forever!

  7. SunnyD847

    May 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I love taking my kids’ friends places plus the soccer team and my GS troop. I didn’t want a minivan so I got a big SUV that holds seven. I wish I’d gotten the minivan. I drove one for a week when my car was in the shop and it really was waaay better.

  8. Lee

    May 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    My first vehicle from 16-21 was a mini-van. It was amazing. I am still sad it died. I can’t wait to get another one. When I got a new (to me) vehicle back in September it sadly did not make sense to get a van at the time. Some day.

  9. Kay_Sue

    May 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    We need a minivan. We seriously need one. And I refuse. It’s pure stubbornness, but I just can’t. I can’t.

    Although I will admit to being intrigued by that one they advertise with the built in vacuum…

  10. Maria Guido

    May 29, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I’m ready for the minivan. Let’s just embrace this whole #momlife thing. Next stop – mom jeans and maybe a perm.

    • Valerie

      May 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm


    • SmrtGrl86

      May 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Omg I LOVE my minivan. Only vehicle I can use to haul 1 human bab, 2 dog kennels full of goat, bags of feed, a german shepherd and my husband. I still pretend I’m cool when I drive it too, windows down, old school Eminem blasting, I turn my eight month olds hat backwards so we look legit too. 😉

    • Andrea

      May 29, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      Mock all you will, but I love my minivan. I force the kids to sit in the way back seats so I can barely hear them. My Odessey has awesome sound and a DVD player which means the brats are entertained and quiet on long trips. It fits absolutely fucking everything in it. And moms with kids in tow in STUFF. Lots and lots and lots of crap.

  11. Natasha B

    May 29, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I love my ‘sexy beast’ with all my heart (and wallet, obvs, cuz filling an 8passenger SUV is no joke) buttttttt…..when our Toyota Sequioa was in for a recall and hubs pulled a new, loaded Sienna off the lot for me….I kinda missed it when it went back. Kinda. I got over it quick though.
    And honestly, it was more of a hassle switching the seats around in the minivan than in the SUV. And I’ve never seen a minivan where you can fit three kid seats in the middle row, unlike mine. We’ve got two big ginormous toddler seats and an infant base across the middle right now, which still leaves the back row empty. Beat that, minivan moms.

  12. 1Hell

    May 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    My mom had a two door Chevrolet SUV (forget what kind) when my sister was born. One day, when my sister was about a month old, she nearly dropped her trying to get the child into her carseat.

    We got a minivan the exact same day.

  13. Momma425

    May 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    The ONE TIME I took my daughter’s change of clothes out of the trunk of my car…she decided to go ahead and spill a full cup of chocolate milk ALL OVER HER LAP this morning while I was on the freeway. I need that full closet in my car. FML

  14. Alikay

    May 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    All the moms at my school who are desperately trying to hold onto their youth/coolness get the huge SUVs with custom rims. Whenever I see them I picture them saying,”I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.” I wonder If they realize they are the equivalent of a balding guy with a Miada.

    • Jennie Blair

      May 29, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Like the one on the credit card commerical with the mom cut bumping to some “hip hop” at the gas pump

  15. Megan Zander

    May 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hold up. Do they REALLY make a car that has a built in DustBuster? Because if so I don’t care what it looks like, I’m IN.

    • keelhaulrose

      May 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Honda Odessy has a vacuum built into the back, but test use it because my husband says the first-run models were junk, but perhaps they’ve improved it.

    • Guets

      May 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      A friend of mine actually bought a vacuum that plugs into any car lighter (I think) for like $50 and she said it is the shit.

  16. Zorbs

    May 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    It actually pisses me off when 1 kid families “need” a minivan. No. You. Don’t.

    • shadow

      May 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      omg my parents had a minivan when I was little…I’m an only child! They were only planning on me, too, so…wth?
      My ex’s mother (who is a whole different story) got her minivan “for the kids”, but now all three boys are grown and out of the house, and no grandkids. She still insists on keeping the minivan so “everyone can ride together!!!*(^*^&*(!!!” When it came time for a new car last year she got ANOTHER minivan.

    • Andrea

      May 29, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      My kids are 14 and 11, We bought our latest minivan 3 years ago and even though I love it, I told my husband that will be the LAST minivan I ever drive. Like EVER. I don’t care if my two kids end up giving me 14 grandchildren. Transporting them won’t be my primary responsibility.

  17. keelhaulrose

    May 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I’m not going to lie, I freaking love my minivan. Especially since we put the DVD player in the back…long trips are no problem with the Bubble Guppies staving off the boredom in the back.
    And the fold-away seats. More than once I’ve folded my older daughter’s middle seat away and put her in one of the back seats so she couldn’t bother her sister. Absolutely magical, not having to constantly check the mirror and say “will you please get your hand away from sissy!” Plus those compartments under the seats are perfect for hiding Christmas presents beause my daughter can’t figure out for the life of her how to get in there.
    And the seat is far enough back kicking the back of my seat is totally not an option. And I can fit the “I’m shopping for nine people in two houses” Costco run in there with the kids.
    I’m seriously not giving that thing up anytime soon, and when I replace it, it’ll be another freaking minivan because I can’t go back until they’re older.

  18. Shannon

    May 29, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Mid size SUVs ftw, then. Decent mpgs and it doesn’t crush my dignity the way I know a minivan would.

  19. allisonjayne

    May 29, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Hell, we don’t even have a CAR. We had folks telling us we would absolutely need a car once we had a kid. NOPE! I live in a major city close to transit for a reason. I walk or bike basically everywhere, and I fucking love it. The closest thing to a minivan I want is one of those big-ass dutch cargo bikes.

  20. Clarissa

    May 29, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    My husband says we will never own a minivan because they are death traps. Apparently they roll easily. We’re not even at the point of thinking about a bigger car now though, cuz we’re still TTC for #1. If we end up having more than two, we’ll get an SUV.

    • clarissa

      May 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I should probably mention he’s 6’6″, so the odds of him being able to safely drive a minivan are slim

  21. guest

    May 29, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I get honestly perturbed when I have to be behind a minivan on the long ass one-way road I frequent; they’re SO SLOW seeming. Is it a driving-slower-cause-the-kids-are-in-the-car thing?

  22. LadyClodia

    May 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I have a Mazda 5. It’s not technically a minivan, but it is essentially a small minivan. It has sliding doors, and I love it.

    • LadyClodia

      May 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Plus look at how happy this damn car is.

  23. LPerniciaro

    May 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Get a Tahoe, an Acadia, a Volvo! You don’t have to cave to the minivan! #staycool

    • LadyClodia

      May 29, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      I used to want a Volvo precisely because they weren’t cool. Then Twilight happened, and they became really cool, and that dashed my dreams.

    • Jennifer Freeman

      May 30, 2014 at 9:11 am

      I had an XC90 before and loved it but it didn’t have the cool tech features that I lusted after (because I was being cheap when I originally bought it, to be honest) so we switched to a Pathfinder. It has the tech features I want, rear seats that slide forward/fold/recline back, and a third row. It’s also cheaper than my Volvo was.

  24. Rachel Sea

    May 29, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I miss station wagons.

    • LadyClodia

      May 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      There are so many awesome station wagons still in Europe; we rented an great BMW wagon while we were there. It makes me sad that they don’t sell them in North America.

  25. Guest

    May 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I told my husband I wanted a van to make it easier for my dogs to get in and out. He thought it was a good idea because I could drive him around while he watched dvds in the backseat. Bonus: It may come in handy when we have kids one day.

  26. Angela

    May 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    We don’t have a minivan because we just have 2 kids and so it’s hard to justify spending more when we can get by with less. I can’t help but get kind of eye-rolly though at the notion that owning a minivan will hurt your image. Maybe it’s hard to understand because I’ve never been cool. You can’t lose what you never had.

  27. Guest

    May 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Maybe I’m just not as into cars as other people but does anyone really give a shit what someone else drives? (Unless it is a disgusting rust bucket or a loud squeaker etc.) I just could care less. I don’t think anyone’s cars look “cool” anyway..minivan, mazda, whatever. Even if you have a Mercedes I just think you’re a rich douche. Point A to Point B is all that matters.

  28. Linzon

    May 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm

  29. Alicia Kiner

    May 29, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I had a Ford Focus that got 17 miles to the gallon… on the highway. And not one mechanic out of 4 places could tell us why. When I finally convinced my hubby to trade it in, he was all we need a minivan. Nope nope nope. I learned how to drive in one and I hated how it handled. We have two kids, and since I had a hysterectomy in November, we won’t be having anymore. I wanted an SUV. I had been doing research and I knew I wanted one that had third row seats, but I was hoping to get better gas mileage than the Focus. I went for a Kia Sorento. We’ve had it for two years, it just hit 19000 miles, and I average about 25 mpg. And it seats 7. I’m good. 😉

  30. Ginja

    May 29, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I was just starting to feel bad that I never considered a minivan and then I remembered that it sometimes floods where I live. Not wash-the-car-off-the-road-flood, but more like the gutters are clogged and we have at least 6-12″ of standing water over a good portion of my daily commute, along w/stranded cars. I floated my beloved Grand Prix trying to get to the sitter one day and got a used Tahoe soon after (I needed ground clearance folks!). Never looked back.

  31. MLSKC

    May 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Nope nope nope! Hubs bought a new Fusion last year, we checked and made sure 2 car seats and a 10 y.o. will fit. That car is good to go if & when we have a third. I drive whatever my company says I can drive, and there are no minivans in our fleet. I just cant-visions of my parents old uncool family Aerostar haunt me.

  32. Grace

    May 29, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I don’t get the big deal with mini vans. As a 16 year old myself, I love our mini van. If I have a lot of friends or or something and want to drive all my friends to the mall, I can. I freaking HATE driving anywhere with my best friends family because all they have is a Camaro. It’s tiny, too low to the ground (I get motion sickness in cars) and just cramped. Not a fan.

  33. Kat

    May 30, 2014 at 12:07 am

    I wish I had my Oldsmobile station wagon from last year. That or an SUV or hatchback. Never going to get a van. Only one child, & keeping it that way. Car pooling? Not in my lifetime! My special excuse 🙂 . Too much vehicle for my life. It’ll just end up getting cluttered. I had a mattress in my Oldsmobile. Yea… No van for me.

  34. Alex Lee

    May 30, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I like answering questions with questions so:

    1. Is your spouse more handy than handsome?
    2. How close is the nearest Home Depot?

    I live in the suburbs and the nearest Home Depot is 5 minutes away. EVERY weekend, it seems I’m folding the rear seats down and hauling off 10-foot sheets of plywood and lumber for “projects”. The additional cargo space inside beats trying to tie everything to the roof of the sedan.

    This does not apply if you already have a pickup truck – I have a special place in my heart for pickup-truck-driving-women.

    3. How many children are in this scenario? (projection: 5-8 years)
    4. Is your nose in proper working order?

    You WILL go on extended family trips and you WILL consider driving instead of taking a plane, train, bus, or boat. One thing that a minivan affords you is separation. Separation is significant if the number of children equals two or more. With my two, the teasing and whining starts within a 5 foot radius. If there is actual touching (like there would be in a hatchback), then the teasing turns to fisticuffs and the whining escalates to screaming. All of this makes the parents quite upset and there is no cool factor to be had afterwards.

    Children are also malodorous. Not all the time. But sometimes. And those sometimes are REALLY exceptional to the point where you start questioning which planet they originated from. In a confined space like a Volkswagen Passat, the odors are extremely concentrated and every kind of car air-freshener just assaults you with every drive. In the minivan, you have the atmospheric cabin space to diffuse the offending smells until they can be attended to properly.

    It’s much cooler in the van.

  35. PAJane

    May 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    If your children learn to parallel park in a minivan, they’ll be able to parallel park anything. And for that they will thank you for the rest of their lives.

  36. Leafyleafster

    May 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    My dad went ahead and bought me a minivan when I was pregnant. My beloved Grand Prix had a smashed in passenger side from loaning it to a family member, they got backed into by a neighbor during an ice storm. I knew I needed to replace my vehicle before baby came, just hadn’t done it yet. Dad buys a used minivan from one of his friends and just brings it over one day. I never wanted to be a minivan mom, and in doubt I’ll have more kids, but my Dad is just so sweet, what was I supposed to do? At least it’s an older black boxy one, so all I needed was a spoiler and a red stripe to make it look like the A-Team van.

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