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Commuting with your Kid

I love my job. I love the town my family lives in. What I don’t love is how long it can take to get from one to the other. On a good day, the drive is about 35-40 minutes. On a bad day, it can be an hour plus and with recent road construction in my area, lately the bad days are outnumbering the good. The commute was a big issue when I was pregnant and trying to figure out child care. I loved the idea of being close to my baby all day long and being able to stop over on a moment’s notice but couldn’t imagine how the baby would do with the commute. At the same time, child care options near home were limited and I hated the idea of being so far away from my baby every day. If you’ve read some of my posts you know that ultimately we chose to go with the center near work. The commute was my number one concern from the beginning and, so far at least, I think I’m significantly more bothered by it than Liam is.

When he was younger, he generally slept the whole way both morning and night. Now that he’s gotten slightly older I’m generally serenaded by  baby babble for the morning commute while the evening commute serves as his second nap of day. I know that I got very lucky with a baby who is good in the car (from colleagues I know this isn’t always the case) and I’d like to think I had some magically advice for making it go smoothly (keep infinite amounts of snacks and pacifiers in your glove compartment?) but really, the biggest thing I think I’ve learned is to be flexible.

Sometimes he’s going to sleep the whole way home on a particularly long commute which then throws his whole nightly routine off. Rather than trying to keep him to his schedule, I’ve stopped trying to fight it and those days we stay up playing a little bit later. Some days he’s going to get a little hungry and fussy in the car and my backseat is going to end up looking like the aftermath of a food fight. So be it. And some nights, like Wednesday night this week, crazy weather will cause absolute gridlock traffic. This week I decided not to fight the traffic and headed to a Target right near work to wait it out. We were both soaked and tired by the time we got there but ended up having a pretty good time getting some snacks, picking up a few things we needed (and a whole bunch more we didn’t) and playing peekaboo down a few quiet aisles. Nothing like the sight of a giggling 11-month old covered in graham cracker crumbs to help put a good spin on a bad situation.

Any other moms with experience commuting with their child? Please tell me it doesn’t get worse as they get older like I’m afraid it might!



  1. Mary

    Organized Mom July 21, 2012 at 1:38 am

    When I was first pregnant, my commute was 90-120 minutes so taking my child into work with me was not an option. Traffic was already stressful enough without having to consider having a child with me. For me, the local center options to where we lived were horrible – I wouldn’t have left my dog there. So I choose a center “somewhat” on the way – about 35-minutes (only bringing my commute up to 105-135 minutes each way – ha!)

    Ultimately we moved closer to work but decided to stay at the center for a variety of reasons (comfort and price primarily). While we moved closer, from home to work is about 60-90 minutes depending on traffic. But I’m incredibly fortunate to work from home most days, which means my “commute” is now the back and forth to the center – about an hour round trip. The days I go into the office I’m back to about 90-120 minutes but the kids are only with me for the first 25-minutes. (Thank goodness!!)

    While my kids were young, we played a lot of games, sang a lot of songs, talked a lot and SCREAMED a lot (primarily when the sun was out). I tried books on CD which worked for awhile but eventually I became dependant on the iPod and iPad (the kids take turns – each gets 10-minutes and they swap). It’s sad to say but, particularly during the evening commute, the constant questions and talking were really hard. You just need some time to decompress.

    It DOES get easier though so hang in there. (At least it will get easier if you introduce electronics!) We still talk about their day, they still take time to eat snacks during both the drive in and the drive home but there’s a little bit more peace and quiet. The only issue we have now is that sometimes, instead of playing games, they both listen to music so I have the radio on, one child has one song on and the other another song – it’s too much so guess who doesn’t get to listen to her songs of choice?

    • Manal R.O. February 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

      Wow, i was ready to reply to your comment, when I saw that it’ve been almost 5 years.

      Thank you for making a little hope for my actual biggest problem:
      I live 1 hour and half from my husband, we see each other mostly once a week and the weekend.
      we were always afraid about me driving with our kid 3 hours a day, so we are thinking to live somewhere between my work and his. but it still gonna be 45×2 a day….

  2. Amanda July 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    My commute is between 45-60 min each way every day. I commute with both my kids 3 times a week, soon it will be with 3 kids. Luckily they are both pretty good in the car and are easily entertained with music, games like I spy and they both usually bring something special in the car every day. I also have a basket of books, 2 i spy jars and 2 writing boards between their car seats. It’s great now that they can both reach whatever they want in there. Most days the commute is good but there are days that my 2 year old doesn’t want to be stuck in his seat for an hour on the way home. For the most part it’s not bad but I agree with Organized Mom, sometimes I just don’t want to talk for 60 minutes. I want to unwind from my busy day. It could be worse, they could be screaming for 60 minutes. Like you I chose to have them close to work instead of home.

    • Manal R.O. February 9, 2017 at 6:03 am

      Hey amanda, thank you for this comment. It gives me too much hope for my current situation. THANK YOU THANK YOU

  3. Barbara July 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I have done a similar commute for the past year with my son who is now 3 1/2. We listen to music, books on tape, etc. He loves to look for construction vehicles. Potty training was a little challenging at first, especially when the weather got warm and he didn’t want to wear the pull-up in the car anymore. I took my chances and tossed a potty in the trunk just in case. The biggest thing I have learned though is to manage my own stress about the commute. I take a longer route through back roads in the morning because it is so much calmer and more pleasant than the highways. I don’t turn on the news station or traffic reports because I find they add to my stress rather than alleviate it. Although it isn’t the optimum way to spend time together, I do the best I can with it.

  4. Kate

    Kate July 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for all the advice/experience! It’s great to hear that others have done it successful even with older children.

  5. Carrie August 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I’m glad to find this post. In a few weeks, I will begin a two-hour (one way) commute with my four-month-old where we will live part-time in two different cities. (Half the week two hours away, half the week at home.) We chose to do it this way so I could go ahead and finish grad school in her first year, and to stay off the road more by going back and forth each day. Know of anyone/advice re: living in two places with infants? (Trying not to buy two of everything, but then some things are too much to lug back and forth each week) Thanks again for this!

    • Caty

      Caty August 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Carrie! That would be a great question to pose to our Online Community ( The Online Community is a space for parents to connect, ask questions, and share ideas and advice. Perhaps someone there has experienced a similar situation to what you’re describing.

  6. Manal R.O. February 9, 2017 at 6:01 am

    5 years later, i’m reading your post.
    Thank you!!

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