Commuting with a toddler (or any age child) can be tough. Every morning and afternoon I drive between 30 and 50 minutes with my 2 and a half-year-old and have since she was 4 months old. Why? We fell in love with the in-home daycare she went to as an infant and with a Montessori school she now attends, both of which are near my office instead of our home. Here are a few strategies that I have used over the past two years to make commuting with a toddler easier…
As my daughter got older our commute transitioned from me listening to the radio and her sleeping to a more active bonding time. I am trying to create a habit of conversations in the car now so it is all she knows. Typically I ask about her day in the afternoon (prodding her to talk more about what she learned), we might sing songs, see how high we can count, or we chat about what we see outside the windows.
Snacks are a great way to pass the time before or after school. Typically in the morning, I will give my daughter some mini-pancakes or a yogurt pouch. In the afternoon I might grab a cheese stick, goldfish, cheerios, or graham crackers. On rare occasion (if Atlanta traffic is especially bad) I will reach for an organic lollipop as an extra treat.
In my car, I keep a basket nearby (in my passenger seat) of activities I can pass back once the snacks run out. Some of our favorites include the Melissa and Doug Water Wow coloring (no mess!), board books (no ripped pages), and random small toys (Little People, play phone, small stuffed animals, etc.).
Some days I pull out what many moms know as the secret weapon…the iPad. Netflix offline streaming, and other downloaded movies, on the iPad keep the tiny human in my car happy (and quiet) and this mama sane. I don’t feel guilty for having “TV time” as part of our commute since we make a point to keep the TV off in the evening until our daughter is asleep (7 pm bedtime for the win!). Her current favorites on Netflix are Super Why, The Hive, Sid the Science Kid, and Masha and the Bear.