The street appears to be melting with the rain sliding down the glass. Every few minutes a car speeds by and splashes water against my door. Trying to balance my need for fresh air and the desire not to get my carseats wet, I open the back windows just a fraction of an inch. It's all a part of my rainy day routine. I'm sitting at the corner, waiting for my 2 youngest to hop off their yellow chariot. Then we'll head around the corner to pick up my oldest from her bus-stop. The last one will get home 30-40 minutes later. The car pick-up is an addendum for the wet weather, it’s on top of our regular-day busy schedule. The rain just complicates things by adding wet raincoats and backpacks to the mix. But the sitting and waiting, I'm used to that.
As any mom with busy kids can attest, there's a lot of waiting time. It might be in the car or the waiting area outside of the school gym, class, park, dance studio, or theatre. Our kids are involved in basketball, tennis, swimming, Tae Kwan Do, and drama. No more than 2 share the same activity, and due to their age and skill difference, they do not practice or play at the same time. And they go to 4 different schools. So this leaves our schedule after 3pm a jumble of activities spanning across the county.
All that to say, we spend a lot of time in the car and waiting for someone to finish doing something, rain or shine.
I haven't perfected it yet, but I am working on maximizing the efficiency of this waiting time. Here's a few things that work well for us. And I’m always open to more suggestions.
- Always keep something to read in the car - waiting for kids is a good time to catch up on Real Simple, People, or the daily newspaper. If you're lucky, you might even be able to string enough time together to read an entire book.
- An alternative to the reading material is any other portable interest or hobby. At times, I have kept a skein of yarn and a crochet hook and stitched up squares. By the end of the year, I had a blanket done.
- Plan ahead for meals. Because we often move from one activity to the next with little time to go home and not everyone eating at the same time or place, it's easy to get caught up in the fast food drive-thru for dinner. On a good day, I cook an easy "on-the-go" meal - something simple, tasty, and portable (and hopefully nutritious). Whether chicken and rice with veggies, spaghetti with sauce, or a quesadilla, I put it in plastic containers, one per child, pack them in our insulated tote, along with a drink, plasticware, and napkins, and we're on our way. And if you need ChickenOut or Chipotle to help you with this healthy, portable meal - don't feel bad.
- Pack some snacks. For shorter days, throw some snacks and juices/milk/water bottles in a bag for the ride. No matter how you may feel about snacking, they are hungry after school and bored riding around, so save the aggravation and avoid the vending machine. Whether its cookies, crackers and peanut butter, nuts, or fresh fruit – be proactive. And throw something healthy in there for yourself, too. Or chocolate, whatever keeps you going through the day.
- Keep school supply box in the car so kids can get homework done while waiting for their activity to begin or brother/sister to finish theirs. Load it up with the basics: pencils, pens, crayons, scissors, glue stick, small ruler, small calculator. Contents of course are grade dependent.
- Keep sports/play equipment in the car. Balls, Frisbees - if one kid has an activity at a school or athletic field, let the others run around outside, too and get some fresh air. Deck of cards, coloring book – in case its raining.
- Get your exercise! Moms are notorious for not making time to exercise, so use your waiting time. Walk around the neighborhood. Run around the track. Swim in the other lane when your kid is at swim practice. Hit a tennis ball against the wall. I even keep a set of dumbbells in the car for a quick workout. It may not always be a long workout, but it's better than sitting in the car eating chips (okay, maybe not “better” but healthier).
- Take a nap! What mom doesn't love pulling up to the parking lot with 15 minutes to spare, just long enough for a quick power nap?
Wait - the gym door is opening and the team is filing out. That's it for now. Basketball is over, time to get home for bedtime.