Anyone who has visited Atlanta and driven on the interstates probably knows our great city isn’t the best when it comes to traffic. And I’ll be the first to admit that one of my least favorite things is sitting in the car trying to get from point A to point B. So when my husband and I were house hunting four years ago, our top priority was to live close to our respective offices. We found a great in-town neighborhood, and my commute comes in at only 5.5 miles. Two years later our son was born and our child care search ended at the Primrose School of Midtown, a mere two miles from my office. But given this is Atlanta, the 7.5-mile drive home from school takes me and my son about 30 minutes each day. So we’re spending roughly two and a half hours a week in the car together for our evening commute alone. This is a lot of time!
When Lukas was an infant I felt this “drive time” was wasted time. Half the days he would fall asleep on the way home. The other days he would cry and fuss or otherwise just sit in his car seat while I drove in silence and fretted about our missed time together. Thankfully, soon after enrolling at Primrose we received Rhythm and Notes® with music from The Music Class® CDs, part of the Primrose Balanced Learning® approach. I started playing them on our car rides, and the happy music always seemed to soothe my son when he was upset. Over time, I could tell that he enjoyed listening to the songs because he would start clapping along to the beat (and I often found myself singing “Mommy ducky goes quack, quack, quack” in the middle of my work day, but that’s another story!).
Over the past two and a half years I’ve changed my view on our daily commute. I now cherish this one-on-one time with my son. As he was learning to talk we used the time to sing the ABCs together. I would point out various objects we passed on the road to help him learn new words. Before long my little guy would point out that, “no mommy, it’s an excavator, not a bulldozer” (Do all little boys share his fascination with machines?), and now we use this time to talk about our day. It gives us an opportunity to talk when we have each other’s undivided attention, without the distraction of toys or that blinking light indicating a new email on my phone. At only two and a half years old, Lukas is limited in the conversations he can have – we mainly discuss what he ate during the day, who he played with on the playground and what he learned about at school – but as he gets older and his vocabulary improves, I imagine this drive time will continue to be a wonderful time for us to connect.
So if you’re spending more time in the car every day than you prefer, don’t view this as wasted time. Connect with your children and take the opportunity to engage them in conversation or sing songs together. Drive time is prime parenting time if you just change your outlook! I’ve also learned (the hard way) that having plenty of books and snacks on hand is extremely helpful, especially on days when it’s raining and the drive lasts much longer than normal.