Car seat? Check. Diaper Bag? Check. Purse, makeup bag and gym bag? Check, check and check. You have gathered everything that you need for your day, you have your little one by the hand, and now you stand on the corner, desperately trying to hail a cab in the Windy City. Have you allowed an extra 90 minutes in your schedule for this? If you haven't today, tomorrow you will. Riding in a taxi in Chicago with a toddler is an adventure in itself.
Display Your Carseat Proudly
This is not merely a suggestion, it's the law. In Illinois, your child is required to ride in a child safety until he is 8 years old. Taxis are not exempt from this law, and you can bet that the taxi drivers are aware of this fact. If they see you standing on the corner, waving like a lunatic, with your little man standing next to you, they will immediately look to see if you have the car seat. If they don't see it, they won't stop. Set it right in front of you, or if you are especially coordinated, hold it in the air with one arm while waving with the other. Even if this doesn't get a cab to stop, you'll provide entertainment for those who pass by. It's always nice to do something for others.
Allow for Extra Time
Gone are the days of running out your door, gracefully waving your hand in the air, smiling as the first cabbie who sees you stops, and hopping in the backseat to be whisked away to your destination while wistfully staring out at Lake Michigan. Now you get to enjoy the experience of waiting for a brave driver to stop. Once this has happened, you then can begin securing your toddler's seat in the cab, loading your bags of bags of bags into the backseat and helping secure your child into the safety seat, not even noticing Lake Michigan. This entire process can take 5 minutes or more, so make sure you have plenty of time -- and patience.
Bring Something to Keep Your Child Occupied
Now that you have actually found your taxi and successfully loaded everyone and everything inside, you can just sit back and relax until you reach where you want to go, right? Not exactly. Make sure that you have a few interesting activities to keep the little one next to you occupied during the ride. A picture book, magnet drawing board or finger puppets should do the trick. This will help prevent a meltdown and also help curb the stream of questions he likes to provide you with every minute of every day. Also, you might want to add an emergency barf bag to the list of things you carry. Taxi drivers in Illinois can charge a $50 vomit clean-up fee. If your little guy is prone to car sickness, keep a bag on hand -- or in his hands, depending on how green he looks.
Make a Reservation
There are at least four reliable cab companies in Chicago, and each one has a large fleet of taxis. Calling ahead and making a reservation will help alleviate the stress of having to try and flag one down. If you know you are going to be taking a cab the next day, make the call. This will make you happier and will make your child happier. Imagine how much better your day will be when you don't have to spend the first two hours just getting to where you want to go. Also, think of what you can do with that extra time in the morning. You can have an extra cup of coffee, let your little guy watch one more cartoon, and, wonder of wonders, fully blow dry your hair. The possibilities are endless!