You’ve traded in your MetroCard for Metro-North and your Uber app for your own set of wheels, so we have a lot to discuss. Whether you’re now commuting to Grand Central for work, driving to your job or doing the Suburban Shuttle, there are ways to hate it less. So let’s tackle that in Chapter 3: Let’s Hit the Road!
Whether you’re commuting to the city every day or once a week, that’s just too much time in your day to not do it mindfully. Even if you’re napping, do it with intention, as in: “I intend to rest and wake up at my destination feeling energized.” My advice is to try to rush less — leave yourself a little extra time by preparing for your day the night before and perhaps take an earlier train in. Change your perspective, get productive and your commute can become an enjoyable transition experience.
If you decide to take advantage of your time on the train, there is so much you can do in your 35-50 minute ride along the Hudson! First, get your To-Do List for the day tidied up and deal with those emails that Just Can’t Wait. Once those are out of the way, take a little bit of Me Time. There are amazing podcasts out there covering everything from entrepreneurship to parenting to personal growth. Or why not take an online course to get the certificate that could help get you to the next level at work? You can decide what you want to make/serve for dinner and put that same-day grocery delivery order in so that it’s waiting when you get home.
You may notice that once you start commuting, you have less time to exercise, so skip the subway or taxi when you get to Grand Central and hoof it. Remember all that walking you did when you lived in the city? I used to walk from 85th & 1st to 36th & 9th — now I have to remind myself that I still have feet! And in the morning sunrise or evening sunset, don’t forget to appreciate and post the amazing Hudson River Views you get to enjoy along the way!
And now for your new mode of transportation — the car! When I’m lucky enough to be in my car alone, I always make the most of it. My best conversations take place in the car, where I’m free from all distractions. I love listening to podcasts that energize and motivate me and meditations that calm and focus me. When there are kids in the car, that’s another story. Bits of advice to you. Driving kids around can be a huge hassle, but it’s also the only time they’re truly your audience and you theirs. If it’s not too late, avoid the iPad trap. Once they start to associate being in the car with having the screen, all bets are off – no license plate game, no sunsets, and I’m Going on a Picnic goes out the window forever. DON’T get the kids in the habit of eating in the car — my 18 year old’s Pavlovian response to hopping in is “what’s to eat?”! It’s NOT A KITCHEN! If you feel you need to bring a snack, water only and for goodness sake, absolutely NO yogurt! You’ll remember these words of wisdom as the warm weather sets in and all the smells in your car begin to ripen… Feeding your kids before a drive can seriously cut back on car sickness. Take it from me — I’ve tried everything for my lovely little and this is the tried and true best trick, short of Bonine and a bag.
My final thought is for Fido. Does he pant and pace and never settle down? He may be anxious, thinking that going to the vet is the only reason for a ride. Patient counterconditioning can pay off — go for short rides that end in treats and walks in the park. Does he get car sick? Some pups need a few trips with medication to stop the pattern of puking. Bring a favorite toy or something with your scent and always use some type of restraint to make sure he feels secure. And most importantly, I make sure to get frequent car maintenance and auto glass repair services so that I can have peace of mind that nothing will suddenly break during our trips. Not too long ago I needed auto glass repair as a result of a collision so I know exactly where to take my vehicle now, as the service was really good and they were pretty quick about it too.
I’d love to hear about your commuting tips and tales and how you’ve otherwise settled in. Or feel free to share the struggles that you’ve had adjusting, knowing you’re not alone!
Hillary is a city girl-turned-suburban mama and a social worker-turned-realtor who focuses on the transition over the transaction. As a top-producer with Hillary’s Homes at Houlihan Lawrence, she has clearly embraced life in the suburbs!