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Commuting With Babies

Commuting With Babies

By Amalah

So my favorite boss in the whole world left our company in the suburbs to work in the heart of our large city. She has offered me a SIGNIFICANT pay increase and a wonderful career opportunity. It’s the kind of situation I just can’t (and don’t even want to) pass up. The problem is that I’m a single mom of the sweetest little 4 month old boy and I don’t want to negatively impact his life. He is currently in daycare from 6:30am to 4:30pm every day. And while I’m sure I could find childcare that would take wonderful care of him for the extra 90 minutes that my commute would add (so almost 12 hours of every day) I don’t know if that’s the right choice for us. I could move into the city but I don’t feel like that is a good fit either. So now I’m strongly considering bringing him on the train downtown with me so we can spend the commute time together and he could be in daycare in the heart of the city. Am I crazy? Do people commute into the city with little ones?

Thanks!
Jen

Girl, if you can dream it, someone has done it. And likely lived to tell the tale just fine. YES, people commute into the city with babies, toddlers, children. On trains, subways, buses, bicycles. People commute out of the city, from ‘burb to ‘burb, there and back again…all with their children in tow. You do what you gotta do.

I don’t think your plan sounds crazy at all, especially once you add up all the positives here:

• Great boss
• Great career opp
• MOAR MONIE$
• 90 minutes of one-on-one time with your baby that you would otherwise probably spend playing Candy Crush, or simply staring blankly into space thinking about your baby.

So I say go for it, or at least decide to give it a trial go. See how the new job goes and how you feel about the commute in general in six months or so. See how you like the new city daycare compared to the old one.

In the meantime, focus on streamlining. Consider commuting with your son in front-carrier like an Ergo for now and put off schlepping a stroller on the train. (That’ll probably come later once he’s a toddler, although who knows! He might become a seasoned, totally chill traveler just since he’s getting an early start.)

Store as many baby-related accessories as you can at the daycare and invest in a really good (i.e. lightweight, utilitarian, compartmentalized) bag to pack everything else you need for the day: bottles, wallet, laptop, lunch, etc. Try to avoid carrying a diaper bag plus a separate purse or laptop bag, and instead look for something that can pass as professional that will also hold an insulated bag for bottles and/or a few other necessities for your son. I’d personally probably go for a backpack so my hands would be free (plus there’s nothing more awkward than having your bag slide off your shoulder and beaning your fellow commuters in the head), and then swap my wallet to a wristlet style so I could still have something small and cute-ish for coffee runs, lunches with coworkers, etc.

If you pump, leave your pump at work in a desk drawer and store the parts in a plastic bag tucked inside a discreet lunch-style tote in the company fridge with your pumped milk. There’s really no need to haul the parts home for sterilization every single night.

If your daycare needs a restock on diapers, formula, baby food, etc., try to buy that stuff in the city and drop it off during your lunch hour or when you pick him up — basically do whatever you can to keep your commuting load down to the absolute bare minimum. If you tend to be a little scatterbrained in the morning, tape a checklist by the front door and go through it before you leave. Keys! Formula! Laptop! Baby! Pack up whatever you can the night before.

I’d also recommend that you still keep a closer-to-home childcare option on hand. Will his current daycare or a nearby at-home center allow for the occasional drop-off if you’re sick or can work from home, or is there a friend/relative/neighbor-with-a-nanny who can help out? From experience, I can say the daycare-close-to-work arrangement can work just fine (no rushing/fighting traffic to make the pick-up time, the ability to stop by during the day for whatever reason, etc.), but there IS a drawback if, say, Mama gets the norovirus and wants to die but has to spend the day being Mama because the daycare is oh so far from home.

But don’t stress about it. You’re going to be just fine. Every situation has pros and cons, but I think the potential pros are definitely worth making this leap. Good luck and much success!

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Oscar's mom
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Isabel Kallman
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what a precious capture. Thank you for sharing it.

Jeannie
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Jeannie

I live in a city with lots of commuters, and I work at a place with on-site childcare, and LOTS of people commute across this city with their kids, by car or transit, to this daycare. So yes, totally do-able, and definitely worth a try. And that extra time with him might be great! The only downside is not having care at home when you’re sick, but if you have a Plan B for that you’ll be fine (and frankly, in a pinch, TV isn’t so bad if you need it to get through a sick day. It’s not like… Read more »

metcodon
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metcodon

I have been a lurker here FOREVER but this is a topic so close to my heart I cannot help but leave a comment.  My husband has been commuting with my daughter since she was 3 months old.  There is a day care in his building and we just could not pass that up.  Amy’s advice is great.  Here are my additional 2 cents.   1. a great urban stroller is so important (especially if you live in a city that is pretty friendly to the disabled, like Boston or DC).  We have a Valco Snap stroller that weighs 13… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

I’m always surprised at how many people don’t have emergency snacks for their kids with them at all times. It’s an instant activity and it keeps their blood sugar (and therefore their mood) up. I don’t leave home without at least a bag of pretzels.

Lea
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Lea

Great advice so far. And I understand not wanting to move the WHOLE way into the city, but is there a halfway suburb that makes sense? Just throwing that out there.

z
Guest
z

Do it, it’s totally fine.  I do it with my daughter, she loves it, and my nephews are totally jealous that she rides the train every day.  Twain!  Twain!  

Rachel
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Rachel

I commute about a half hour to my work (by car because texas has laughable public transportation) and I chose a daycare near my work for a variety of reasons. It’s so nice to be close to him, I can nurse at lunch and be ten minutes away if he needs to be picked up. The extra hour I spend with him now is nice, even though he’s rear facing in the backseat and I can’t really interact with him. A train ride would be awesome because that’s extra bonus time with the kiddo, who is at a really fun… Read more »

Joy
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Joy

I commuted with my son for 2 years while he was a toddler.  This was in Tulsa–and I was driving rather than using public transportation, but the stress of traffic and whether I would make it back to his suburban daycare in time for closing was terrible, so I moved him downtown with me.  The only times that this was a little inconvenient were if I was working in another part of town, or taking a day off, and still wanted him to go to school.  

Myriam
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Myriam

I do not commute with the kids, I chose to live in the city and got childcare close to home. HOWEVER, that’s because that’s what works for us. I didn’t want a long commute, we were planning for a second kid at the time and I had a 50-week maternity leave (thanks Canada on that one!). It would not have made sense to pick a daycare close to work when I was planning on sending my first one to daycare while on mat leave with the second. I really think your plan is the one that offers you the most… Read more »

Jess
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Jess

Ha! Amy totally described me when youngest was an infant!  For his first 18 months I put him in a daycare across the street from my (downtown, urban) office building so that I could dash over at lunchtime (to nurse), and then around 12 months old I stopped that because it interrupted his day negatively.   Once he was a little older, we moved him to a daycare closer to home, but downtown was SO convenient!  The only issue was when I wanted to work from home/needed a sick day but still had to get the kiddo to daycare. I… Read more »

Tiffany
Guest

My baby LOVED the bus! So much to look at! So many people making faces at him! Yes to all this great advice- backup care close to home is important because you WILL get sick and you WILL want to let the trusted pros care for your child so you can get some damn rest. Streamlining, shipping of supplies, all of that… but this is totally doable and I think you should go for it. 🙂

MR
Guest
MR

If your commute is a bus or a train, then yes, take baby with you and find a daycare near work! You can spend that time with your little one, and it will be great. If that is a commute of you driving, DON’T DO IT! That isn’t extra bonding time with your kid when they are stuck in the back and you are dealing with bad drivers. That’s stressful when there is the inevitable traffic jam and you are stuck with a crying infant in the back that you can’t console. But, a train or bus is completely different… Read more »

Amie
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Amie

If you’re not driving, I would definitely do it. I commuted 90 min each way for the first two years of my daughter’s life, while she was in daycare near home. It was brutal, and I resented that commute so hard. I would get home at 6pm and she would need to be in bed by 6:30. I wouldn’t have felt like I missed so much if she had been on the train with me.

Rachel
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Rachel

I understand if you definitely don’t want to live in the city, but you could consider finding a closer suburb. Or if you just aren’t sure and can afford it, I’d recommend trying to find a rental for a week or two, like on AirBnB or something and giving it a dry run. You might be surprised how much you like it. I can’t speak to commuting with babies specifically, but I used to commute for about two hours of every weekday, and when I switched to a closer job, it felt like I had twice as much time. If… Read more »

Hillary
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Hillary

Another hearty endorsement for your commuting together plan! My first kid and I took 2 buses for a 40 min commute to and from my job (daycare was in the same building). A few lessons learned – I cannot believe I cloth diapered the whole time. Baby in a ring sling, plus my backpack, plus my back of dirty diapers? Wow, a lot of work and I should’ve just used disposables! Sometimes she cried. And screamed. And I got dirty looks from the fresh 20 somethings on the bus (I was not only the oldest person on the bus at… Read more »

Dani
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Dani

I too am excited that I can finally chime in 🙂  I live in Brooklyn and have commuted to Manhattan with my son since he was 12 weeks old. He is now 17 months. The commute is about 35 minutes door-to-door and very manageable unless we hit train trouble, in which case everyone is an ass hole and I am ready to move to Cleveland :).   We loved the daycare that was close to my office, and as a bonus I could drop one pumping session per day, and walk over there at my lunch break and nurse him… Read more »

Melinda
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Melinda

Look at you working & single mamas getting it done!

It might be because I’m 36 weeks pregnant, but I’m sitting at my desk trying not to cry at how wonderful this question and comment thread are.

So proud of all of you doing the hardwork for your babies!

Melissa
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Melissa

I drive an hour each way to/from work, and this is my first year without one or two little passengers in the back seat; my parents watched my first son as a baby, and we eventually found a sitter and a preschool near my work as well. I loved that I could attend preschool events more easily, and if either boy became sick, I was close by as needed. As I drove, we would sing songs and tell stories- it was such a nice time with my boys, and I’d do it again if I could! (Both boys are school-age… Read more »

Danielle
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Danielle

Medela makes bags for sterilizing pump parts in the microwave. You just put the parts in, add water, and run in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Easy to keep at work and not have to drag pump parts around!

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Chiming in to agree that commuting with baby is awesome. When I realized my best daycare option was around the corner from my office I was honestly dreading the idea of commuting with her, but boy was I wrong. Going back to work was a tumultuous time for me, full of career-related setbacks and challenges at home, and when I look back on it in a few years I think I will see it as a time when I was a bit sad, but the commuting with her, that will be the parts of this time in my life that… Read more »

Hannah
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Hannah

From the other side… We chose a daycare for our oldest son that was on our way to work, but outside the downtown core. We were feeling pretty smug about it, until one day when there was a bad & sudden snowstorm right at evening rush hour. The public transportation in our city kinda sucks, so my husband and I drove downtown together in one car. There we were, stranded in bumper-to-bumper not-moving traffic, for THREE HOURS (normally a 15-20 minute drive).  By the time we got to the daycare, my little guy had been there for 12.5 hours and… Read more »

Kara
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Kara

I’ve tried this both ways, and I’ve found that even though the commute can be hard here and there, it’s was worth it for me to spend the time with my kids. I also found it’s easier to focus on work when I’m physically closer to my kids. Maybe this is silly, but knowing I can get to them quickly during the day is reassuring.  I’d also suggest also consider being aware of prompt care options or if your pediatrician’s office has a clinic near daycare/work. A commute with a sick baby is tough, but it’s tougher when you know… Read more »

Laura
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Laura

This situation you describe would be eliminated if the day care is within walking distance from work (as it sounds for OP). Our day care is right next to our home, and I work downtown, so I could potentially have the same issue as you, where I am stuck in traffic and can’t get to my baby.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Oops, I replied to the wrong comment, ignore me!!

LC
Guest
LC

Wow!  I was really expecting all of the comments to be the opposite direction.  I have a 90 minute commute (mostly train, but it does include driving to the train station and a mile walk from the downtown station to my office).  There is an excellent and affordable daycare center in my building which starts at age 2, but I’ve been hesitant to consider switching my 2 year old because it’s a long time on the train every day and a long sometimes cold walk to my office.  I might have to reconsider.  My husband currently does drop off and… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

The drive to the train station and train part are fine. But, you’ll need/want a good stroller that can help with the cold walk part. You’ll have lots of stuff to carry, and won’t want to make that walk longer because it slows to toddler pace. Make sure whatever stroller you have accommodates all your bags and can handle the weather, and you’ll be fine! LO will just need to be bundled up, but little kids love being outside, even when it is cold.

bekala
Guest
bekala

Childless commuter here, chiming in to say that I see a fair number of kids on my commute (light rail, 30 mins one way), and I second, third, fourth, what others have said.  I’ve seen babies in carriers/wraps, toddlers in strollers, and older kids (3-4 yrs), all on their ways in to day care with their parents (and a co-worker regularly sees a mom with her 2 kids on the ferry!), and I can only think of one instance in the past 7 years that wasn’t fun for anyone, and it was clear that the kid was just having a… Read more »

chopk
Guest
chopk

I just have to add to this comment list – and thank you to all the other working moms for reinforcing my decision!  I used to live in the city and was about a 7 minute drive from both daycare and work.  It was the jackpot of all commutes.  We moved to the burbs and I put my daughter in full time care at our new community, and got a nanny for my son.  It was pure hell trying to drive like a bat out of hell every night getting home to them!  I ended up putting my daughter back… Read more »

Jen
Guest
Jen

Thanks everyone for your great responses!!! I’ve decided to take the job in the city for sure, and now I feel so much better about my options for child care. It’s great to hear that it really does work for you.