The Commute.

by Elizabeth Horn 


Don't tell anyone, but, my work commute can sometimes be the most relaxing part of my day.


Like the other working lemmings on the Interstates and highways every day, I stop and go, I merge, and, I wait at traffic lights while I wonder where all these people are going.


While I have to maintain a facade of exasperation at the whole thing in order to keep my worker "street cred", as a parent, it's not a bad deal to be able to ride in your car alone, and, listen to what you want to listen to on the radio.

After I drop the kids off at school. I'm on my own. Freedom! OK, at least I can think my own thoughts and not have to referee arguments for at least 20 minutes, that's free enough for me on some days.


But, more importantly, my commute to and from work is vital to me in order to change modes from home to work and back.


Before I had kids, I had a friend at work who had small children. I remember her deciding on a daycare that was near her home, but, wasn't near where we worked.


I asked her about it, and, she said that she just "needed the mental time" between work and home. Being childless at the time, I just dismissed it as another weird thing that people who had kids did.

Now, I get it.


I can use the time in the car in the morning to put aside thoughts of Legos, a teen text messaging me into bankruptcy, and, the syrup laden kitchen table. I try to organize my thoughts for work, so, by the time I get there, I'm ready to go. I sometimes even listen to voice mails, and, check e-mail on the way so that by the time I hit my office I'm ready to go. It just helps me feel less frazzled, and, be more efficient with my time once I get there.


Conversely, at the end of the day, I can use the time in the car to wind down a little, even in traffic. I call my husband to discuss what we have going on for the evening, and, we decide if anyone needs to run errands. I also talk to the kids briefly to find out how their days went, so that I know a little about what to expect when I get home.


It's just kind of nice to not have to talk to anyone for a few minutes, and, I can even sing along with the radio if I want without someone telling me to, "Stop it."


It all may seem like a small thing, but, in the course of a busy day in the life of a working mother, little bits of time spent alone, courtesy of working, can add up, and, I have learned to appreciate it over the years.


However, besides the mental benefits, the best part is that I can even make a quick stop for a drink or a treat and nobody will know. I can eat a snack in peace, and, I can drink a Diet Coke without someone asking for a “sip” and then finishing it off.


I recently took a new job with a 30 minute commute. It was a very difficult decision to leave my 10 minute commute behind. Now, I couldn't be happier! Luckily, I'm not in bumper-to-bumper traffic, so I can drive without having the stress of that. But, I never realized until now the importance of having that down-time you refer to. I actually feel pretty relaxed by the time I get home and because of that, I'm a much better mother!


This is so true! I actually enjoy the time in the car on the way to work and back. It gives me time to catch up with friends on the phone (with a hands free device, of course). Without that time, I would never connect with friends. I also love that I have time to crank my iPod as loud as I want.


I love listening to NPR and 93.7 Bob FM when I go into the office. Granted, I don't go to the office very often. And I get Starbucks before I go. Sometimes I miss my exit and I don't even stress about it. One day on the radio it was all tunes from 1984. It was like I was in a time machined and went back to junior high for an hour.

Mom to 3


Amen to this post! I listen to books on CD during my commute--it's about the only time I get to do any "reading for pleasure" these days :)


I totally get this. Working in St. Paul the commute was the best part of my day. And truly, I don't at all mind being the chauffeur for things and didn't mind being the mom who had to pick my kid up and run her everywhere for all of the things she was involved with when we lived out in the country (and the subsequent waiting in the car before, during, and after events and/or practices) because it gave me down time for reading, writing, and crafting in the parking lot or in schools.

I LOVED that car time. And I miss it today!