Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Now That the Dust Has Settled: Post-Move Logistics Update

I think it is time to update my strangely popular series of posts on the day-to-day logistics here in the Cloud-Snarky household. (Hmmm... I should perhaps turn that order around and have it be the Snarky-Cloud household, and make Snarky Cloud the name of my next band...)

Anyway, I promised I'd update once we'd settled into a routine after my company moved. Well, my company moved in December, so I think it is time to acknowledge that this is my new routine.

First, the details of what changed:

My old office was roughly 11 miles from my home. Google maps tells me that it would take me 15 minutes to drive there right now, and that was indeed roughly what my morning commute was most days. Some days traffic would be a little worse, and my morning commute would take 20 minutes. On a really bad traffic day (i.e., rain, an accident, the stupid golf tournament) it could take 30 minutes. I do not think my morning commute ever took more than 30 minutes.

My evening commutes were harder, because the traffic getting out of the area in which I worked was truly horrendous. I dealt with this by shifting my schedule such that my commute home (after picking up Petunia from day care) was roughly 20 to 30 minutes and it reliably took less than 10 minutes toget to day care. On Thursdays, I did not pick Petunia up (Mr. Snarky did, so I could go home and exercise) and the drive was reliably 20 minutes. On a really bad traffic day (heavy rain, accident requiring lane closures, some jackass setting fires in the freeway median), the commute could be as long as 45 minutes- but that was rare.

My new office is roughly 15 miles from my home and requires more non-freeway driving. However (and this is the saving grace), there is not usually much traffic. After much experimentation, I have found routes that make my drive to and from work take 30 minutes most days. I'd estimate I get a 30 minute drive to work 4/5 days per week and a 30 minute drive home 3/5 days per week. The other days, something random happens somewhere along the route (today, it was a stalled school bus on the surface street I take from the freeway to my neighborhood) and my drive takes roughly 45 minutes. It has rained once since we moved to the new office (yeah, we're in a severe drought), and that day, it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to drive home, even though I left a little early. Mr. Snarky cannot be relied upon to leave early when it rains, so he and Petunia also got home late- very late. Our entire routine was messed up and everyone was grumpy. It was a really rough evening. I think that if it had been raining the next morning, I might have quit my job.

The other thing that has changed in this new configuration is that my work is now nowhere near day care. Driving between work and day care takes roughly 20 minutes and is out of my way, so if I drop Petunia off, the drive to work takes an hour. Therefore, Mr. Snarky does most day care drop offs and pick ups and I take Pumpkin to and from school (which is 2.5 blocks from our house). On days when Mr. Snarky has an early meeting, Petunia watches TV until his meeting is done and he can drive her to day care. I am not thrilled about this, but it doesn't happen often, so I've made my peace with it.

So, with that long preamble out of the way, here is the new routine:

The Base Weekday Schedule

Both grown ups get up at 6:20, unless Petunia has woken up earlier. If she has, I get up with her most times, because by the time I wake Mr. Snarky up to get up with her, I am awake already. I use the time to catch up on blogs, so I only half-resent the early wake up. I'm staying up later at night for reasons I have not analyzed, so the old routine of getting up at 5:55 for a short run has been dropped.

Petunia almost always gets up as soon as I get up (another reason to drop my attempts to get up early). I wake Pumpkin up at about 6:45 if she hasn't gotten up earlier.

We all have breakfast, the grown ups shower, everyone gets dressed... the usual morning stuff. We all leave the house together sometime between 7:40 and 7:50. I walk Pumpkin to school. This takes me about 20 minutes, round trip, because although the gate to her school is only 2.5 blocks away, the room her before-school program is in is literally as far from the gate as it could possibly be, which is the equivalent of another block and a half. Also, there's sign in, etc., etc. But I like this 20 minutes, and driving her would only reduce it down to maybe 12 minutes... so now I walk. Mr. Snarky drives Petunia to day care. Since he works around the corner from where I used to work, I suspect it takes him 30 minutes or less (15-20 minutes to day care, 5 minute drop off- day care is far more efficient at this than the school program is, 10 minute drive to work).

We work/go to school/play at day care all day. I leave at 4:30, get home between 5 and 5:15, and walk to pick up Pumpkin. Then I make dinner. Mr. Snarky leaves at 5, picks up Petunia, and is home by 6, when we eat dinner. He refuses to time shift as much as I did (he likes his lunch breaks too much), so he spends more time in traffic than I used to.

I usually do work-related reading while I eat my lunch, and take a 20 minute walk most days at lunch time. One day per week (usually Tuesday or Wednesday), I have a short workout in the company gym instead of the walk. The new building includes a decent little gym. I wasn't going to use it (I am a manager, and female, and a little heavier than I'd like... and either you get why or you don't, maybe I'll explain further in a future post), but then they installed a really nice heavy bag and I decided "screw it, I want to hit that." So I spent roughly 30 minutes figuring out an acceptable work workout outfit (again, either you get this or you don't...) and now I go hit/kick the heavy bag for ~15 minutes once per week. With cool down, changing and showers, this takes 40 minutes. I may be able to shave that down to 30 with practice.

(Aside: I will someday write a post about the reactions of the men I work with to learning that I like to kickbox and/or to seeing me hit and kick the bag and realizing that I really meant kickbox and not cardiobox. But this post is already too long and I'm only up to lunch time.)

On Mondays, we both leave work a little early (4:15 for me, 4:30 for Mr. Snarky) and pick up our assigned kids for swim lesson. Mr. Snarky picks up Petunia, changes her at day care, and drives to swim lesson. I pick up Pumpkin, bring her home to change (it is on the way), and then drive to swim lesson. I drop Pumpkin off, and then drive home and make dinner. Mr. Snarky stays with the girls and they get home at about 6:20.

On Thursdays, I go for a jog by Mission Bay. Except for that awful Thursday when it rained, when I came home and did a dance workout in my garage. This is made possible by the fact that we pay our Chinese teacher to go pick up Pumpkin, walk her home, and give her an hour long Chinese lesson. Pumpkin loves this part of the new routine. The downside is that there is no flexibility- I get my workout time on Thursday, and if it is raining, well, I can figure something out. There is no just switching the workout to the next day.

On Fridays, Mr. Snarky leaves work at about 4:15, picks up Petunia, and takes her to soccer. They get home at about 6:30. I come home at the usual time, and make dinner. We almost always have Boboli pizzas on Fridays because I am just done with real cooking by then. Most Fridays, I have to give myself a pep talk just to make a green salad to go with the pizza.

If there is time after dinner, we play/read/fall down internet rabbit holes, as our fancy takes us. At about 7 p.m., the kids have bath. We alternate nights giving bath. The grown up not giving bath works/blogs/takes the trash out/does the finances/whatever.

After bath, I give the kids snack and make the next day's lunch for myself and part of the lunch for Pumpkin (Mr. Snarky makes the rest in the morning). I pack a snack for Petunia who insists on taking "lunch" and eating it as soon as she gets to day care.

After snack, the kids watch a show or we play a game or they just play- it varies. Then at about 8:15, Mr. Snarky gets their teeth brushed and we each get one kid to sleep. This involves reading stories, and if you are getting Petunia to sleep, lying in bed with your back to her while she "snuggles" (a.k.a. "gently kicks") your back. I read short stories or tweets during this time. Mr. Snarky sleeps. The parent who got Pumpkin to sleep (read her stories, kiss her goodnight, turn on music, spray "monster spray"- i.e., Febreeze- and leave) does the dishes.

Then the grown ups work, blog, read, watch TV, play video games... whatever.

I try to go to bed at 10:30, but usually don't get to bed until 11, as you'll confirm by checking the timestamp on this post. I have no idea when Mr. Snarky comes to bed most nights, because I am usually asleep.

Weekends

We continue to have Friday Night Beers. That is sacrosanct.

Gymnastics is now at 9, which sucks for me sleeping in (i.e., I don't get to) but is great for leaving us more family time in the day. I usually take the kids to gymnastics and Mr. Snarky stays home and does laundry.

Every other week, we also have a 30 minute Chinese lesson for both kids. That is sometimes on Saturdays after lunch and sometimes on Sunday mornings.

I sleep in (sometimes until 8! or 8:30!) most Sundays. If our schedule permits, Mr. Snarky goes for a run once I get up, while I sit around and drink tea and write. The kids play and interrupt me roughly every 15 minutes.

I do the grocery shopping Sunday afternoons. Usually.

We plan out our weekend during Friday Night Beers, and try to always include at least one "family fun" thing, which ranges from a trip to the park to a trip to Legoland to riding a ridiculous bike around Coronado.

We do a lot of chores on weekends. Or at least Mr. Snarky does, because he refuses to pay someone else to do our garden work. I haven't been able to determine if this is because he actually enjoys the gardening or if it is another one of his weird "I can do it so I shouldn't pay someone else to do it" things.

Mr. Snarky cooks dinner on the weekends. We usually have my sister around for dinner one night (or sometimes go to her place for dinner instead). We sometimes have other people over, too.

And that's it. The sick kid routine is unchanged. Petunia gets sick less often now, although she did just get sent home with a fever today. She is also more willing to let the grown up who stays home do a little work- particularly if that grown up is Mr. Snarky. She likes me to "snuggle" her on the sofa (which again means "let her put her feet on me") and I like to sit and keep her company, so I don't argue too much.

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So, what do I think of the new routine? I'm not sure. I love walking Pumpkin to and from school, but I miss picking Petunia up and watching her play soccer.  I don't care for the longer commute at all. I know that it is not long by many people's standards, but... we sacrificed a bit on both space and neighborhood to buy a house in a location where our commute wouldn't be too long. Now I have the smaller house and the more boring neighborhood, and I still have a long commute. I'd be lying if I said this didn't annoy me. I also hate the ever-present risk of a much longer commute. I always allow 45 minutes for the commute, and I think that I'll need to allow at least 1 hour 15 minutes on rainy days.

I'm not sure what I'll do. I like my job, and I would not be able to find another similar job right now. So I am trying to decide how much, exactly, I hate the commute. It feels like I drive for such a long time, and it feels like wasted time. I've tried audiobooks, but I don't like them. There is not a lot of traffic, but there is some traffic, and I kept missing important bits when I had to focus more intently on the road. Also, I like to highlight while I read, and you can't highlight an audiobook. I might try podcasts next, but right now, I'm just listening to music I like and trying to enjoy the drive.

I dislike Mondays the most, because I leave work at 4:15, and don't get home to stay at 5:30, and must then start dinner almost right away. We're considering having me stay and watch swim lessons (which would be fun!) one or two times per month, and then going out to eat afterwards. This scrunches our bath/bedtime routine, so it is not without cost. But it might help make Mondays less unpleasant.

So what do you all think? Am I just being a commuting wimp? Anyone with a long commute want to suggest ways to make it less sucky? Other suggestions for optimizing my routine? Want to share the best/worst parts of your routine? Just say hi? Leave me comments!

35 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:44 AM

    Commuting time is a big problem in my experience especially if you have to go in everyday. From reading various blogs and looking at the schedules of my friends and colleagues, it looks like those who manage well have short commuting times.

    I think readers are interested in logistics because logistics is very difficult when both spouses have equally challenging jobs. - S

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    1. I think 30 minutes is the limit of my commute tolerance. If my commute was 45 mins most days I would probably be working much harder to find a different work situation.

      It would help if I could work from home, even one day per week. But my company doesn't officially allow it. I can do it occasionally, but not enough to make it a part of my regular routine.

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  2. Sarah (@SarahHCarl)4:59 AM

    It's been a long time since I've actually had to drive to commute, which I suppose is an advantage of living in big cities (read: Chicago) and Europe. Right now I cycle about 15 minutes to work, or if it's raining I have a 30 min walk (in the rain, which is a different type of suckiness - but at least it's exercise). However (and this is a personal thing), I am a big fan of podcasts for this type of situation. My favorite right now is This American Life. You still have the problem of occasionally missing something when you have to concentrate, but it's usually not enough that you can't follow the gist of the story. Actually, now that I think of it, podcasts serve a similar function to me as short e-books (a la Tungsten Hippo), in that they are interesting enough to hold my attention but I can usually get through them in one sitting, so I don't have to worry as much about getting interrupted. I think the key to dealing with annoying, "wasted" time like commuting (or waiting in the lab during successive 5 min incubations, etc.) is finding something that you enjoy listening to enough that you can actually look forward to it for its own sake, as a small treat, even as you admit that it's not the most productive possible way to spend the time. Good luck!

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    1. Y'all have convinced me to try podcasts!

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  3. There are a lot of similarities between our schedules, but my commute isn't that long (the city is smaller). A difference is that I try to cook for 2 days at a time as much as I can.

    I like my commute as it's me-time, I wouldn't mind if it were a little longer, as it's just me with my thoughts plus the radio. I work about 20 min from home, as does DH, and the younger two kids are on our way to/from work; the oldest walks home when he's done and chills until we get home. On Sunday I cook for Sun and Mon, so I stay late at work (till 8 or 9) and DH takes the kids and feeds them what I cooked; on Friday he takes them to Food Court because they all like it and I stay and work late again. Tue, Wed, Thu we each pick up our own kid (me the toddler, he the 1st grader whom he takes to activities). I either cook Tue dinner on Mon night or leave early on Tue, then we eat that on Wed too, and I cook something quick on Thu.

    Workweek: I get up 6:15 with the eldest kid, whose school starts at 7:30; I read blogs and catch up on email while he's getting ready (I could probably exercise indoors during this time), pack him lunch and drive him to school (it's snow here 6 months of the year), get back to wake the little guys up about 7:30 and give them breakfast, do my bathroom routine and we all leave about 8:15, usually 1 kid each.
    I go to bed too late, often after midnight, I need to fix that. Weekends: I am up with the kids, hubby (who stays up later than me, on the computer) sleeps in. I like this time with just the kids in pajamas.

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    1. I am looking forward to the time when my kids can help with the cooking.... I think Petunia is showing an interest.

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  4. I highly recommend podcasts. I stay at home with the kids, so I don't have the commute, but I do have a lot of boring household chores that require incentives. (Even in my working biochemist days, I hated doing the dishes.) I listen to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Freakonomics, Science Friday, various gardening podcasts, and friends keep recommending RadioLab but I haven't worked it into my schedule yet.

    My youngest will be heading to kindergarten in 1.5 yrs, but it's hard to imagine full-time work even then. My husband has a fairly demanding job, 8-5:30 most days with the occasional evening, weekend, and 4-day work trip. With kids in school, my working full time would mean paying for after school care and probably a cleaning service. The oversupply of educated people in my city means a PhD might make 40k, and I've only got my MS. It's not impossible, just daunting. There are some distinct advantages too: no scrambling for daycare or begging to work from home on snow/sick days. More time to volunteer, pursue gardening interests, cook interesting meals, and do house projects.

    Anyway, thank you for the logistics update, it's very helpful to see how two working parents manage life!

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    1. We pay for before and after care provided onsite by the YMCA. It isn't anywhere near as expensive as day care was, so it feels like a bargain to me- but it isn't super cheap. We pay for a cleaning service, too, but I consider being able to afford that a huge plus- I don't enjoy cleaning at all!

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  5. Zenmoo7:23 AM

    I am very sympathetic about the Change in commute. I have to say the greatest source of happiness for me in Christchurch vs Perth is the reduction of my commute via childcare drop off went from 17km in Perth to 4km in Christchurch. If I'm going straight to work, it's just 2km which is a nice, easy and interesting walk of about 20min.

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    1. That is awesome!

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    2. Zenmoo10:11 AM

      It really is. My husband also works a bit less than 10 min walk from my work, so we usually do drop off together and park in between. We aim to have lunch together once a week. I usually pick M up from preschool by myself just before 5 and DK gets the bus or walks home. His walk is closer to half an hour, but the bus is just 10minutes (not very frequent though). I am so NOT looking forward to this changing when we go back to Perth. Although the commute should be better as M will be at a school enroute to work rather than 3.5km past it.

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  6. I like these posts because I don't have kids yet and I find it interesting to envision how my spouse and I will fit kids into our daily routine.

    Commuting is a pain. About a year ago I went from a 25 min walk to work (which was lovely, except not really so lovely in the winter) to a ~60 min commute, mostly on public transit. My husband has about a 45 min drive in the opposite direction so our current location makes sense, but it is still not fantastic. Public transit commuting has its ups and downs. I can still be 1/2 asleep in the morning because I don't have to focus while driving, but a crowded subway on cold, wet days when people are sneezing on you is generally unpleasant. We are planning to move soon but haven't found a more convenient, yet still affordable area for us.

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    1. One of my colleagues lives near the new office location and walks to work (through open space/canyon park, even!) and I am sooo jealous- but not jealous enough to move. Walking to work is a lovely thing.

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  7. Jennifer9:24 AM

    I have a pretty long commute - 30 minute drive to public transit, plus about an hour in combined waiting for train/sitting on train/walking from train to office. I think because it's broken into two parts, it doesn't feel that long. I generally read on the way in and at least part of the way back (usually it's too crowded for the first several stops to be able to even hold my Kindle at reading distance) and listen to NPR during the drive, until I get to daycare for pickup and then I switch to music or silence. Often I find myself just lost in thought, though, rather than listening to the radio. It's a nice time of day for me to do that.

    I don't really have any suggestions for making it less sucky, though, since I don't find the commute itself sucky, just the fact that it eats up so much time that I wish I could be using for other things.

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    1. I *think* I'd like the commute better if it could be at least partially on public transit, but that isn't really an option for this particular commute. And sometimes things that sound better in theory don't turn out to feel better in practice....

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  8. I believe that you cook dinner most or all weekday nights? I would suggest alternating or being more flexible with this since your commute is now longer. Also, cook in big batches...i.e. a large pot of soup, crockpot meats/stews, etc... so that can last at least 2 meals. Oh, when I had a long commute, I would try to do errands at lunchtime from hair cuts to grocery shopping. Not sure if that can work for you but it helped me a lot.

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    1. I'd love to include more crock pot meals! I have yet to find a crock pot dish that works for us- it has to be something that fits into a meal that has at least one component each kid will eat.

      We have leftovers on Thursday and pasta with a sauce from a jar on Tuesdays. So it isn't like I'm cooking masterpieces. I am just usually tired and wish I didn't have to do anything in the kitchen at all!

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    2. Cloud, have you looked into hiring a personal chef who will cook meals once a month in your kitchen while you're at work and load up your freezer? A couple of friends at my previous job swear by this, and it's not as expensive as you'd think and certainly cheaper than eating out. You can find some leads on Yelp.

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  9. When I do the drop-off/pick-up from school, it's about an hour from work-school-home (or reverse) so I feel your pain about the drive time! One comment is about kids having a bath every night-- my 7 y.o. has a bath or shower 3x/week, so several weeknights don't feel as "scheduled" and we have more time for play, reading, etc. Just a thought-- maybe it's a key routine your children love, but if not you might consider if nightly is crucial.

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    1. We let them skip for special outings, but the evening routine works best for us if there is little variation- because then the kids are less likely to argue about the next step!

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  10. I was very depressing this year (academic year, not calendar year) when I realized that my morning commute averages 60 minutes. The kids' school is in the opposite direction from my work and the house, and by the time I drop them off and get to the highway, I'm stuck in gridlock for almost a half an hour. I've tried multiple different routes, to no avail. When I drive directly to work, it takes 20 minutes, max. My husband isn't here during the week so there isn't any trade off possible. It's exhausting. I'm so tired of it! I'm thinking of moving them to a school that's on my route, just to make my life more bearable. Mornings in general. We wake up between 5:30-6, I get up 6 or 6:15, and then it's non stop rushing until we leave the house c. 7:30. I hire someone to do pick up for me, which is a life saver, & a huge financial drain.

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    1. Oh man, that is depressing. Is there anything keeping you at the present school beyond the fact that your kids have friends there? It is hard to decide to move your kids when they are happy where they are, though- several people have suggested we move Petunia's day care, but that would be a true last resort for us.

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    2. We tried to move schools! But we couldn't get any financial aid. And the little one isn't kindergarten age yet, so moving to the nearby public school isn't an option that will help us yet.

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  11. My commute is about an hour in each direction--slightly shorter in the morning if I'm driving. Whenever possible, I take the bus; it gives me the "me" time that is otherwise missing from my day, since I can check social media accounts, read, or blog (not that I'm doing as much of that as I'd like lately).

    Would you be able to do any of your work-related reading in the form of podcasts or audiobooks, so that you could shorten your lunch and leave a few minutes earlier? Not all workplaces are open to that, but I've found that 10-15 minutes can make a big difference, since you're off-cycle on everyone else's departures.

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    1. I have a great deal of schedule flexibility, but I don't think it matters when I do the drive- traffic is light, and I am basically going as fast as I'd want to the entire way (unless there is a stalled school bus or something...)

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  12. I leave the house at 7:20, drop DC1 off at 7:40 and roll into work between 7:50 and 8am (depending on if there's a train). I think it takes longer to do the reverse trip, but I don't pay attention to the time because it doesn't matter when we get home.

    We spend the home commute chatting about the day and whatever is on DC1's mind (usually video games or Pokemon or right now Big Nate).

    The DC2 preschool commute (now that she's at the new place) is shorter and in the opposite direction. DH has been doing it because she wants to nurse when I pick her up and throws a fit if I say we have to wait until we get home and they have a tiny parking lot so I don't want to take up a space for too long.

    If it weren't for private school, it would be a 15 min straight shot for me to get from home to work and back, so long as I avoid rush 15 min.

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  13. I live in the SF Bay area and I think about my commute a lot. I commute by train+bike, which takes a long time but I view it as productive because I can work/read/chill on the train and get exercise on the bike. I'm pregnant, though, and it will be interesting and challenging to see if I will be able to keep this enjoyable but long commute when child care factors in. My husband, who has a similar but shorter commute to me (his company has shuttles from train), thinks we should have a nanny instead of sending baby to day care precisely because our commutes are long.

    It will be interesting to see if we can manage to stay where we are when baby arrives--we love where we live, but it's not close to work. Both our jobs allow us to work from home when necessary, though it's not something either of us do regularly now. I am hoping that I will find a way to make more productive use of my time on the train and count that as work time, since if we do go with a day care I will most likely have to leave work an hour earlier than I do now.

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    1. Yeah, that's tough. The child care decision is a hard one. The option to work from home is huge- but also be prepared for the fact that it is hard to get work done when home with a sick baby. It gets much easier when they are older, though.

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  14. I have a 30 minute commute each way but I don't mind for two reasons:
    - it's a beautiful ocean-view highway commute vs. my old downtown urban grid-lock commute which was also 30 mins but covered less distance and was much more aggravating from a road rage POV
    - if I don't have client meetings scheduled I work from home. This means I only do the commute (usually) 3 days a week. If I do 4 days or (god forbid) 5 days in the office I am definitely MUCH more tired at the end of the week and I think it's safe to say that it's the commute that drives the fatigue factor. If I have 15 client meetings divided over 3 days in a week, I am less tired at the end of the week than if I have the same number of meetings over the whole week.

    I'll check back in the fall. At the moment we have a nanny who handles our drop offs and pick ups from school, but our Younger is going to full day preschool in September and our nanny is moving on. We'll be saving a ton of money but we're going to have to stagger our schedules so that one of us handles drop off (probably me) and one to handle pick up (probably Huz). Luckily the kids will be at the same school which makes it easier. But school is 30 mins IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION from my work. So I will be driving 30 mins to drop off, and then an hour to work. But, only 3 days a week. I'm going to try to organize it even better so maybe I will only have to do 2 days a week.

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  15. fivefeet nine4:02 AM

    When I lived in upstate NY, I used to listen to NPR while driving. I sometimes would actually choose not to drive on the freeway since that took a lot of concentration and I'm nervous at high speeds - the combination of radio and non-freeway actually meant that I would be fairly relaxed even if the drive was a bit longer. I hated similar commutes where radio reception was spotty or the programs not as good. One thing that helped my temper was to eat a yogurt before starting out, ridiculous as that may sound.

    Here in Zurich (moved when baby was 4 months old, now he's 2) we don't have a car and use public transport. We live 7 minutes walk from husband's lab but my work and kid's daycare is a good 30-40 minute commute with connections and walking. Would have much preferred to use the daycare 5 minutes from home, but this one is so good that we're not changing it. But the commute kills me, especially when there's a traffic disruption somewhere between our hilltop and the city center -- then it can take an hour or more door to door (home to daycare). If we stay longer than the next year, we're seriously going to have to consider moving AND buying a car. Simple day to day stuff like grocery shopping is a major pain without one, esp'ly since stores are open only until 8pm M-F, until 5 or 6 on Sat, and closed on Sundays (and you either have to buy stuff practically every day during lunch or go with the kid and his stroller - UGH).

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  16. Anonymous9:36 AM

    A 30 minute commute probably feels that much worse just because it's longer than it was before. I drive 20 min to/from work each day, and then with parking, it can take 25-30 minute door-to-door. Fortunately, we take back roads and the traffic is pretty consistent. 30 min of driving would definitely start to feel long. There were stints in the summer when the kids went to special summer camps that were 10-15 min in the opposite direction, and the total commute came out to 45-50 min, and that really sucked. I empathize.

    It could be worth considering moving before the kids are completely settled in a school routine.

    I think the key to audiobooks is to cycle through 3-4 of them until you find one that you legitimately LIKE. When that happens, it's a pleasure to listen, and doesn't take nearly as much focus to... stay focused.

    Our schedule is constantly changing because the kids have seasonal activities. Football season was intense. Basketball season is much more chill. I do hate that leagues/coaches have no problem informing you two days before that there's an upcoming practice/game/etc. Who has time for last minute scheduling?! Why is there no parental revolt when this happens?

    I cook almost every meal, and most are semi-elaborate (though not necessarily super time consuming). My saving grace is rigorous meal planning, shopping, and batch cooking. Also that my husband helps with most cooking... it takes a lot longer to do it alone. Usually he will help the kids with homework, etc, while doing some cooking stuff here or there, while I focus almost 100% on getting food on the table. Since things are prepped in advance, most weeknight meals can be pulled together (on the table) in 10-20 min, with maybe only one night of cooking an actual meal in 30-40 min.

    I have a new baby on the way. So far one of my plans is to work from home at least one day per week (once baby is in day care), because I think that will give me a chance to get caught up on a couple of errands (e.g., swap commute time with laundry or running an errand). I also think my husband and I may just have to suck it up and do more individual child care for dinner/bed time if we want to continue to have personal gym time or the occasional late night at work. However, I think we need to embrace the concept of only having temporary or partial routines as everything is constantly in so much flux.

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  17. Irisevelyn12:39 PM

    We both work full time, but have flexible hours, so we have two "shifts". The early shift for me means that I'm taking the train at 6.11 am to work. The ride is 40 minutes, so I have a small breakfast and then I take my laptop out and work. Then I take my bike from the train station and ride 10 minutes to work. At 3:08 I head back, arrive at 3:45 at the train station and bike to day care, where I pick up my boys and take them home. The "late shift" means I get up with the boys, have breakfast with them, get them to daycare by 8:45, and get the train at 9:11. Then I come home at 6:15 for dinner. My husband has a similar commute, we switch off who has which shift depending on appointments. I don't mind my commute very much because the trains I'm using are empty and so I can really get work done on my laptop, or read something. I also get about 45 minutes of (slow) biking a day.
    In the evening we split the kids for brushing teeth and reading stories and then one of us brings them to bed together, which involves some more cuddling and singing. It really helps us that they sleep in one room together and go to bed at the same time. The two year old still naps, while the four-year old doesn't, so they go to bed together.

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  18. I absolutely feel your pain. My commute threshold is also 30 mins.

    Presently I'm about 25 - 30 mins from work both ways and my husband is about an hour - 1 hr 15 away. Our kids go to pre-school close to home so if there are any problems, I attend to them :(

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  19. About six years ago we considered leaving this area. That's when I realized I wanted to leave primary care and do hospice full-time, and I didn't think I'd be able to do that here. We thought about what parts of the US we'd rather live in, and realized that any place we'd rather live than here would require a long commute for at least one of us. Right now Sam drives 3 miles to work and often comes home for lunch. He has a lot of flexibility and thus he's the one who takes Eve to any daytime appointments. I drive 11 miles to my office, and now I take Eve to school - she attends a charter school that's around the corner from my office. She takes the bus home. The 11 miles takes me about 20 minutes, which means I have time to leave work behind and can be present when I walk in the door at home. We have an afterschool babysitter three days a week to get Eve to her 5:00 PM dance class (and she stays late once a week for date night. Yay, date night!). Sam gets home before I do and he cooks dinner every night.

    Before Eve was born we lived between our jobs. I drove 30-45 minutes each way, depending on traffic; Sam drove or took the train at least an hour each way, sometimes longer. In winter his travel time often doubled. It was horrendous. Never again. We decided to stay put.

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  20. When I had a driving commute (I am now on the bus) I listened to The Teaching Company lectures. I found it didn't matter much if I missed details because I was tired or my mind was wandering--it just gave me an excuse to listen to the lectures again at a later date. I especially recommend anything by Kenneth Harl (history), Robert Greenberg (music), and Alan Charles Kors (intellectual history).

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