Today went a bit better (relatively) and I realized that it is not really the car I miss, it's my bike. A normal weekday has me riding three miles from where the carpool drops me. Riding alone, able to zip along whatever route I choose, able to complete errands between or after classes before picking my son up. Sometimes I go home on my own, arranging for him to be brought later in the afternoon. Buses do not offer that kind of flexibility, nor does full-on, non-stop single parenting. I didn't choose to be a single parent, and I certainly didn't choose to be suddenly and unexpectedly without any form of childcare. A car wouldn't really fix any of these issues. Although a car would have allowed me to go to therapy this week, and bitch at my therapist, rather than y'all.
So, in addition to getting a reality check about my need to expand my network of parenting support, I gained a new appreciation for the plight of bus commuters --especially those traveling with kids. Although I have a Trail-A-Bike for my son, it is not reasonable to expect him to be able to bounce out of bed and onto a bike, nor is he up to riding all day, all over town. And so I offer what little wisdom I gave gained so far . . .
Tips for Bus Commuting with Kids:
*Pack snacks -lots, more than you can ever imagine needing. Cheese and veggie sticks, mixed nuts, fruit, etc. If you add frozen berries to plain yogurt in a reusable (Tupperware-oid) container it will stay good all day. Bring juice in a reusable plastic container --you can freeze some of the juice in an ice tray and add the "juice ice" to your container of ice, allowing you and your kid to enjoy fresh, cold juice all day.
*Bring maps so the kid can "navigate" can sometimes help with boardom. Packing along the commic section of the morning paper also works
*Many light layers.
*Those mini folding umbrellas are lifesavers, as are “emergency” rain ponchos that come folded up smaller than a salteen cracker. Collect them and keep them on hand
*Reading material and art supplies can help keep the kids busy during stops and long waits. Let the kids carry their own cargo in a comfortably fitting back back.
*Rolling back packs, like those used by students, and folding "Granny Carts" can save your back and your sanity
*Really consider what errands need to be done, and if they need to be done today. I am finding that I need to really scale back what I think can be done in one day.
*Organize errands along the bus routes: today we went to the yarn store, The Boy's Tae Kwon Do lessons, and the video rental store, because they were all along one bus route. We delayed a trip The Boy wanted to make to get trading cards, so that we can do it as part of a cluster of errands on another bus rout on another day. One problem with Monday was we tried to do things in several different parts of town, requiring several bus transfers. kids, dont try it!
Several of these tips apply to traveling by bike with kids. More than anything I am learning the importance of having a LARGE network of folk to call on and lean on, otherwise one finds oneself considering putting one's child up on eBay. ;)