Deal with a long commute?

CommuteAs I was driving to work today, I realized how much I appreciate my fairly new, shorter commute. I used to travel over 3 hours both ways to and from work. I was able to reduce that to an hour to and from work and now I am down to 15 minutes! I look back at that time and wonder what I could have done with all of that time. Of course, I came up with a list that I’d like to share to maybe make someone else’s commute more productive.

1. Learn a language– Can anyone say Rosetta Stone?
2. Listen to a book on tape– Preferrable classical literature. This would be a great time to catch up on some of those titles that you skimmed over in high school.
3. Learn new skills– pop in a cd and learn about meditation, sociology, marketing.
4. Inspire yourself– Do you dream of owning your own business? Get some Ted Talks downloaded to your iPod and play them through your radio.
5. Got young kids in the car? – inspire them and play motivational speeches, books on CD, or learn that new language with them.
6. Have tweens or high schooler’s in the car? – turn off everything (including your cellphone) and listen to them. Have some heart-to-hearts and just…listen.

I look back on all of those hours jamming to music or chatting on the phone (using my bluetooth of course) and look at it as time wasted. Who could I be today if I had used that time more productively? How much more secure and close can you and your kiddo be, if you make that time about them? This is a short list but, I would love to hear some other suggestions. Don’t be afraid to share.

The Village

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I would like to think that I can do all things and that I can be everything to my children as a single parent, but I am a realist.  I realize that there may be certain needs that must be met that I may not be able to meet.  As a single parent or a just a parent for that matter, it is important to not short change ourselves or our kids trying to be supermom and superdad.  Sometimes we must employ the help of others.  We must create the village*.

I realized this earlier this week as I waited for my daughter to finish volleyball camp.  As I was standing there, I observed other girls from all different backgrounds receiving instruction, lessons, skills, and support.  The coach was building a team in front of me.  If there was a girl there who wanted to belong to something, she was definitely going to belong to this team.  I watched my daughter’s face shift from focused (on what the coach was saying) to joyous when she was able to high-five a team member or score a point.  This moment I could not provide her with on my own.

There is a huge gap between my children, my daughter is 12 and my son is 21 months.  She has pretty much been an only child until he was born.  I have constantly been busy working and going to school to provide for her and I have to admit, I missed out on a lot.  But, when I was off from work and not in class, I took her to museums, plays at the library, outdoor festivals, etc.  I tried my hardest on a mediocre salary.  But, there are things that I could not provide.  I am not ashamed to say that I utilize my village*.  I put her in cotillion because I want her to be refined and conduct herself as a young lady should.  I let her participate in any sport that she wanted to, to include gymnastics, tae kwon do, cheerleading, soccer, and volleyball.  She needed the team and the discipline and friendships that are included.  I let her participate in the play for which she was so awesome, I had to step back and soak it all in.  She received applause after applause and it seemed as though everyone in the audience stopped her afterward and told her how wonderful she was.  She needed that, they all need that.  Of course they receive the accolades from us because we are always there but, it is special when it comes from complete strangers who do not owe you anything.

I encourage you to take advantage of any opportunity to build your village because our kids need that.  Don’t go it alone.  If you look hard enough, there is always someone there willing to help.

*It takes a village to raise a child. – African Proverb