Three weeks ago, l left my baby in the car.
It was Melbourne in December and Claire was 6 weeks old at the time.
Earlier, I had woken her from her nap so we could go and collect her older brother from childcare. She was still drowsy and as soon as I strapped her in she went straight back to sleep.
I drove ten minutes to my child care centre, parked the car and went inside to collect my son.
It wasn’t until I was collecting his bag that I realised something wasn’t quite right.
William’s educators had left some of his artwork for us to take home, so I was asking myself ‘how am I going to carry his bag, the artwork, the baby and hold his hand in the car park?’
That was when I realised I wasn’t carrying Claire.
I haven’t sprinted in many years, but I ran that day.
Thankfully, the weather was mild, I had parked in the shade and it was only a minute or two she had been alone in the car.
Nevertheless, how could I have done such thing?
Claire had not made a noise since I lifted her out of her cot. I had the radio on in the car for the news and was ticking through my to do list in my mind as I was driving. For those few minutes, I switched to auto-pilot. The habits of the past two years kicked in and I forgot I had an infant with me.
The distractibility of early parenting – we’ve all been there.
We all know how lethal it is to leave children and animals in cars. Every summer we read tragic stories about babies dying in these horrific incidents. Our governments and health institutions go to great lengths to remind us of the dangers of hot cars.