When I was choosing a nursery for my daughter, I thought it made sense to put her in one near my office. I was going there anyway, right? I'd just take her on the commute with me and drop her off on the way to work. We would have fun. It would save time.
Let's just say that it's not going exactly to plan.
We're not talking about a simple car commute, here. We're talking about a half-hour ride on a public bus through a busy city, followed by a long walk down a very steep hill with one-year-old who refuses to get into a push chair. Getting to work is almost as exhausting as actually working.
So here's what I've learned so far:
1. The amount of excitement a toddler displays upon seeing a bus is directly proportional to the amount of whinging they will do when they actually get on that bus.
2. People are going to stare at you if you're a professionally-dressed woman with a small person attached to your torso - especially if that small person is waving your bus pass around and yelling, "Yayadadada!" at the top of their lungs at 7:30am.
3. Never forget snacks. I don't care if they've just eaten breakfast or are about to eat dinner - if they have a snack in their mouth, it means they can't whine. Always choose mess-free snacks, because commuters don't appreciate having to step over a pile of crumbs when they get off the bus. Rice cakes are good. It takes a while for their tiny teeth to get through them.
4. Sometimes, when you've been sitting in rush-hour traffic for 20 minutes on an uncomfortably hot bus, it's best to just hand your toddler your phone and say, "Here - go nuts." And they will. Mine managed to download some random health app that I can't seem to delete. It may have cost money. It was still worth it.
5. Try not to compare yourself to other commuters. Don't look at the man who's quietly reading the paper. Ignore the woman who's listening to music and staring out the window, or the guy who's scrolling through his phone. Don't reminisce about commutes of the past, when you too could enjoy a bit of 'me' time before work. There's a toddler kicking you in the leg and asking for more rice cakes, so you'd better get on that.
6. You'll often be late to work because your toddler wants to hug you for just a little bit longer before you leave them at nursery. You will forget how much they screamed when the bus got stuck in traffic, or how they rubbed their half-eaten rice cake on your face, or how they blew a raspberry at the old woman sitting next to you. You'll relish that sticky toddler hug, because it's going to be eight hours before you get another one.
This summer The Huffington Post UK is spearheading an initiative helping families thrive, with a focus on parent wellbeing, the challenges facing stay-at-home and working parents, friendships and navigating the landscape of modern parenting beyond the 2.4. To kickstart the campaign, Jamie Oliver guest edited the site, bringing a focus on feeding healthy families.
We’ll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #ThrivingFamilies and we’d like you to do the same. If you’d like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.