Like the dog year to people year conversion factor (what is it 7 to 1? I'm no vet...), there is something funky about the commute time to kid time equation. Even though I can listen to my favorite radio hosts who catch me up on local, regional, and world events, even though I can unwind after a rough day seeing pregnant teens who didn't know they're pregnant, and even though I can make cell phone calls (hands free) to friends I don't get to see that often anymore, I will unequivocally say that time spent commuting is not more fun than time spent with my kids. A simple fact. The commute is a time-sink. And commuting in traffic is negative time. At least if I were in the car with my kids for the bulk of those travel minutes, then it wouldn't be too bad, as we talk, listen to music (on my rockin' cassette player), discuss what we see on the side of the road, and make stops at farmer's markets (always a winner) and gas stations (fun because Mommy washes both rear passengers' windshields a few times) . But commuting without either rear passenger is painful indeed. I recently obtained a navigational GPS that I thought would help me Get Places Sooner, but I find it actually gives me more choices that I can now fret about... will it be faster or slower to turn onto this side road, and why does it say "no outlet?"
One good option which serves to add precious moments to the standard 24 hour day, when I can swing it, is to skip out of work early on administrative days or light clinical afternoons, avoid traffic altogether, and surprise my children with an early pick up. And, on a typical trafficky commute, what makes up for those negative minutes are the positively huge smiles, cheers, and hugs when we all meet up again at the end of the day. And I don't dare let thoughts of tomorrow morning's commute intrude on our fun-filled evening.