I usually grocery shop using my cargo bike. It has a large bag on each side that will hold the equivalent of a large brown bag of groceries or two of those Baggu bags, and a dual kick stand for stability. However, if I don’t load (and unload) carefully, the bike will still tip over from the unbalanced load. When I have milk, eggs, yogurt, bulk oatmeal, beer, and then a big, but light package of toilet paper (because let’s face it, that’s my typical Whole Foods load), I have to carefully distribute the weight for easier riding. There’s nothing like listing to one side for making a 3 year old feel unstable back there.
The last time I walked up to my bike with two heavy bags and started taking things out of bags to balance them on the bike properly, I stopped for a minute and thought about how really, we were in the middle of balancing the load in our family life right now. Summer is starting and my bigger kids are back home. My job contract is ending in two weeks (as is the extra income) and I’m planning where to go from here. Jeff is taking on management responsibilities at work and is heading into a busy season. We’re figuring out our summer travel plans, which are made more complicated by needing to rent a vehicle, but less complicated by not having to worry about our car being in good enough repair to make a long trip. There’s a puppy in the house who is still definitely a puppy. Dogs need to be walked. All the creatures need to be fed (including us). We need clean clothes. A clean house. We have social and volunteer obligations. Berries need to be picked. Mama needs studio time. Fun must be had. There’s a porch to sit on while watching the world go by.
There’s a lot to balance.
As the kids get older, there seems to be more and more added to the load. But, as they get older, their ability to carry more load grows as well. Right now, with all the changes in our life, most of the balancing is coming from shifting load to Gunnar and Annika.
- Gunnar gets himself where he needs to go under his own power – by foot, bike, or bus
- Kids are in charge of much of the pet duties over the summer
- Annika can play with Kit while I reorganize spaces for how we’re living now and prepare for following my work dreams (more on that later)
- The girls care for our little garden
- Gunnar and Annika can each handle their own lunches and take charge of one dinner a week
- Now that Annika isn’t riding with him, Jeff gets to work earlier and comes home earlier so he can be present more and help with dinner/dishes/shopping
Of course, as soon as the load is balanced, school will start and we’ll start moving the load around all over again – just like the other day when I made 3 stops on my errand running with each stop requiring a shift in the load (a beer growler and milk offset each other nicely). It’s good for me to be reminded that when the load gets heavier, that doesn’t mean it can’t be carried. It just needs to be rebalanced.