I'm a commuter mom. I travel 45 minutes every day to and from work praying for no accidents/traffic/severe weather/or changes. And I do this commute with my tiny children. Trust me, it is no easy feat. In fact, it takes some pretty serious skill to learn to commute with your baby in tow. One might even call it a superpower.
Whether you commute by train, car, bus or even just walk, here’s how to deal with your baby...and still get to work on time.
0-3 Months: Enjoy your maternity leave, but get ready. (Hopefully it lasts this long. You deserve it.) Who cares about your commute yet? You do, because soon you'll have this tiny baby for an extended period of time and you'll also be going to work -- stressful! Don't fret, instead prep! Get a few preventative items like a car seat mirror if you’re a driver, and many extra pacifiers. Try a leisurely practice run. Then try it out during commuting hours. You'll likely realize you’ll need to add plenty of extra time to your morning commute.
4-5 months: A rocky start. The beginning of your new commute may be rough. You're not alone in feeling that major loss the first time you drop off your baby. You'll look back at the empty spot in your car or stroller and do a choked-up double take that the familiar little head is not there. It’s normal.
For the beginning months of your commute, try to make adjustments with your baby so that the commute coexists with a natural sleep time. Although this may seem like a huge feat because your baby may not be '”scheduled,” you'll quickly see the benefits of waking up and feeding your baby 20 minutes earlier so he/she passes out while driving!
It’s also normal to stop while commuting to “check on” that sleeping baby because you're certain something is wrong if he/she is silent for this long. Also normal: stopping on the commute because he/she has never cried this much for this long. Remember: safety first, drivers! We know a crying baby can be distracting, but don't turn around while you're driving. Stop as many times as you need to feel comfortable. It will get easier.
6-9 months: Get ready for toys. You'll need toys for your daycare and toys for your home; you'll also need tons of toys for your commute. Good toys at this point would be anything you are comfortable with your baby having in his/her mouth. My superpower suggestions? Teething books and rings hanging from the car seat or stroller with teething toys attached. Warning: if your child gets caught in a ring, that could cause serious commuter screaming and mommy sweating. But probably no other harm.
10-12 months: Ambiance matters. Do you have particular music that you listen to or have from a music class you attend? Do you sing to your child regularly? Is your child on any more of a routine at this point? The more you can naturally reflect your child's typical ambiance, the easier your commute will be. And double down on those teething toys… your baby can now throw and kick them so plant several in her carseat to help prevent meltdowns.
13-18 months: It's lovey time. Whatever your child is lovey-ing at home NEEDS to be easily accessible on your commute. Maybe it’s a life-sized stuffed animal, a sweet blankie or just her thumb -- in which case, don’t forget to take off her glove or mitten! Always bear in mind the previous months’ lists too.
1.5-2.5 yrs: Surprise! The element of surprise will take over the time that used to be used as a commuting nap. Maybe it's a new sheet of stickers or a new stuffed animal, or a new car/train/truck, or another lovey, or a book, or a sibling. Look, baby! A new present! Just for you! The choices are endless and can be cheap and ordinary.
You’re also entering potty training stage which could require a traveling potty (oh the joys) and many, many stops along the way. Possibly to make pee pee in the traveling potty in the trunk of your car. Or next to that grown man that's making pee pee on the subway platform. But oh, commuting mom, that’s a whole nother article.
Good luck, and may you find your own commuting superpowers quickly and easily.
Image via Estella, maker of that adorable NYC Train Baby Pillow. Go buy it here!