Commuting With Babies
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?
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!