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Driving time/traveling tips and waiting


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I will start this fall taking my daughter a good distance away for dance classes. I am very interested in any advice, tips, tricks, etc. ,that you've learned along the way, if you've had to make this choice.


Specifically, I'm interested in tips on: studying in the car, how to still have some "downtime" (which I can now see as a nap on the way there), what you do with your own time now that you're not 5 minutes from home (shopping everyday is NOT a possibility).


thanks in advance,


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  • Momof3darlings


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Guest MommaJambe

We spent the last two years driving to ballet classes an hour from home. While I did go shopping once a week for staples and such, it does get old. I found a park and joined the local walkers -- lost 15 pounds! Other things I did was take pilates at the studio, and use the time for hair appointments and car maintenance [oil changes, tire rotations -- things you need to do when driving all those miles]. The studio always needs help of some kind too, especially around performance time, so be sure to offer your time to them. And, of course, there's the usual napping, reading and hobbies, which works for both Mom and dancer. Though in the car, my daughter prefers to use the time to relax, listen to music, and talk to me.

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Guest BalletFlaMom

While I, personally, do not have to travel to get to our studio, many of our parents do, some "only" 30 miles or so, but, one of the Moms at our studio, (a single mother BTW) travels over 90 miles each way 5 days a week for classes for her 2 daughters and 1 son! I can tell you that the children do their homework in the car on the way to class, it's almost a 2 hour drive, she has told me that the homework gets done much easier when the children are in the backseat, for some reason she has found that (for her children anyway) the front seat isn't conducive to homework getting done. Mom usually brings them some kind of snack for the ride to class. While they are in class - 2 hours some days 3 ½ hours some days, Mom is either a) doing upholstery piece work, one of her part-time jobs, or helping our wardrobe department with finish work on costumes (I happen to KNOW that YOU are VERY talented, perhaps you could arrange something with the wardrobe mistress at the new studio) :) taking a walk, doing tai chi or some other form of exercise or c) napping in her car! After classes the children heat something up in the microwave for dinner to eat in the car on the way home and finish any homework they have on the way home, Mom has several of those "Itty Bitty Book" lights for them to use in the car after dark.


Like MommaJambe, she too, has her car maintenance done here and also does her "staple" grocery shopping here.

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This is a great topic - as fun to read as it is interesting. We drivers can always use some new tips! :D


In the past, my daughter has eaten her bagel en route to class and done her hair...On the way home, at times, she has worked on her homework with Itty Bitty Book Light, etc. However, I have found that if we are bringing other students home with us, the homework does not get done...there is usually too much laughing and talking going on.


As for my activities if I am waiting out the class time, I usually walk around the city if the weather is good and buy myself my much needed cafe au lait and read the paper for a while...I guess I think of it as my reward for being such a good chauffeur!;) I have considered bringing a big cooler, so I could go shopping for groceries - but haven't yet...Have also been known to pay my bills while sitting there sipping my coffee - iced or hot... And one of these beautiful days, I'm planning on bringing my old SLR camera in for some picture taking.:) All in all, I try to do something that I actually enjoy instead of always feeling that I mustbe productive!


If the studio were in a location that was appropriate for a nice oil change, I'd happily go for that as well...alas, it's not that kind of area.

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Wow, does this subject sound familiar...we are going into year 5 (and the last!) of an hour-each-way commute to my daughter's studio. She attends classes 5 days/week, and has rehearsals for the youth company three of those days, so we're there anywhere from 2 and a half to 5 hours at a time. My daughter, too, does her homework in the back seat (love those itty bitty book lights). I know another dancer with a similar schedule who had a laptop, but so far that is not in our budget. She also snacks on the way there, and usually naps for a while. Homework is usually done on the way back. While there, I sometimes walk with one of the local moms, which is great. The gym where I belong has one of those arrangements where you can visit other gyms a few times per month, and I have considered taking my gear and working out, but so far haven't done so. I also run errands and sometimes do paperwork, or take a nap. What I do most is read. Several of the national chain book stores have bargain books available for very low prices, and I buy probably one a week at least. Sometimes, there is a very good reason that these books are priced so low, but sometimes they're very good. Of course, I could go to the library, which would make much more economic sense, but I enjoy owning books as I often reread them. I also sew costumes for the studio when needed, or help out in other ways if I can. It's been interesting...the first year, I was bored stiff, but after several years I have found various ways to entertain myself, and actually treasure the time alone.

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I am a veteran when it comes to this particular topic...here are some thoughts:


- My kids have been in major growth phases during these travels, so I try to really get creative in providing nutrients in those after school/before dance car snacks....like....peanut butter with crackers, apples or bananas, cut up fruit, cut up raw vegetables with a dip of some sort, small sandwiches etc. I find that this really helps them get through class better


- one of the problems with this kind of commute is the long time sitting in the car after a strenuous class...so some stretching after class and a walk to the parked car can help


-one of my kids developed mild nausea and cramping at times....we have now made a large bottle of gatorade part of the after class routine with amazing results.


-we have found a cheap solution to the lap top (well, cheaper anyway) that allows my kids to type in the car. A hand held PDA with a $99 keyboard allows them to type documents which can then be "sync"ed onto the main computer at home and edited. This has really saved us from computer crunch at the end of the day.


-I find that the back seat is more conducive to homework also--and I think it is safer...I have had the experience of a binder blocking my standard gear shift when in traffic....not a good idea!


- Books on tape are a fun diversion (and potentially of good educational value)


-I have regarded my time waiting for my kids to finish class as among the quietest time I have had in recent years...and actually have relished it. I have been fortunate to meet other tired dedicated parents and have formed friendships that I treasure. I knit, crochet, sleep, read (for work as well as play), walk, do my holiday and birthday shopping, browse through the bookstore, sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.


I'm sure I'll think of other things I've forgotten...!

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I'm in "retirement" right now from that stage of my life because my daughter now drives herself. The above posters gave you lots of great ideas for what to do with your time. I'm going to write about another aspect of long commutes: stocking the car.


My daughter did her homework in the car. In order to facilitate that, our car became a mini-office. Strapped to the back of each front seat were car organizers - those strap-on "shelfs" full of pockets. We used one for office equipment: battery-operated pencil sharpener, ruler, scissors, compass, stapler w/staples, misc. pens, pencils, markers, tape, assorted paper, mini-dictionary and mini-thesaurus. We even had a clipboard in the largest compartment.


On the back of the other seat was an organizer for ballet items: bobby pins, hair pins, hair nets, brush, comb, water spritzer, gel, hair spray, rubber bands, mini-sewing kit, pointe shoe ribbons and elastic, bandages - each tucked away into its own compartment. If you live in a cold climate, you have to do away with the water, gel and hair spray in the coldest months because they freeze.


I also kept a cooler in the car. That was always stocked with juice boxes, granola bars, crackers, a gel pack for injuries, and dried fruit. Whenever I was really well-organized, it also included cheese, sandwiches, fresh fruit or whatever other perishables we'd choose.


During those years, I was spending an average of 4 to 5 hours a day in the car commuting her to school and to ballet as well as working over 8 hours a day so we simply HAD to have a well-organized car. We didn't waste precious time stopping off for food (it was also cheaper this way). My daughter had the items she needed for schoolwork in the car. It's amazing how this organization decreased stress for both of us - we always knew there'd be food, dance and school supplies readily available.

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I have all of the things you mentioned in my car too, Vagansmom. However, they never seem to get replaced in the handy little pockets provided, so we spend a fair amount of time searching for all of the stuff that has fallen down between the seats, under the seats, behind the seats, out of the car when we stopped, (you get the idea). I have dreams of a very neatly organized car and have purchased all of the "equipment" to make that a reality. However, my car usually looks like what it is, a well-lived in family room!


You have inspired me to try to get everything back in its place and keep it that way before we begin the school year. Hope springs eternal!:)


Balletmom2, very cool idea about the PDA and the keyboard!:cool:

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I don't know how to make the long commute easier-it's tough,but maybe while your daughter's having class you could take an adult open class!:eek: :)

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We travel an hour to ballet,and then another hour to my third son's gymnastics. The boys always do schoolwork on the way there. They bring it organized in binders, and then on the way home I hear about classes,practices and friends. If there was something they didn't understan, the dark half of the trip is also good for going over stuff-i.e spelling, history questions etc. We always have snacks and drinks, and usually pack a lunch for them to eat on the way home. I spend alot of time at the library during classstime, except around performance times, then its costume work. Terri

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Momof3darlings, one thing that I forgot to mention was that, at least for me, driving time seemed shorter and shorter as time went on. When we first started traveling away to class, it seemed like it took forever to get there and back; it was quite discouraging. I wondered how I would ever make it for five years. As with most things, though, I got used to it. Now I'm almost surprised to see our freeway exit - and daughter's naps don't seem very long to her, either!


Balletmom2, thanks for mentioning the PDA and keyboard. I hadn't even considered that.

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Years ago, when I first embarked on all this driving, it seemed endless. I never thought I'd say this but I do miss some aspects of it. For one thing, I never get those long talks with my daughter anymore. She's never home till late at night. The car rides were the time to discuss whatever was going on in our lives or to discuss politics. I had a better idea about what was going on in her mind than I now do. I miss it:(


While she enjoys the freedom of having a license, she says it's harder on her. She can't do homework in the car so that's a huge chunk of time taken away from her. She also can't nap in the car in the mornings on the way to school. She likes not having to depend on our convoluted methods of getting each of us wherever we needed to be but all in all says she'd rather I were still chauffering her about. That was a surprise to her.


Just when you think your time will never be your own, you come out the other side of the tunnel and you're looking back with amazement and wonder at where all the time went. My daughter's entering her 14th and final year at the same ballet school. I remember looking with awe at the mothers of the senior dancers that first year. They were accorded a respect by both the newer moms and the staff. Recently, the AD of the school told me she wanted me to meet a certain mom because she reminded her of me way back when. (She asks lots of questions:p ) That's the first time I ever really felt old.


So, enjoy those long rides. No matter how frazzled you feel and how messy the car, these really are some of the best times in your life as a mom. You'll actually look back nostalgically. Who'd have "thunk" it?

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Thanks you guys! Some really GREAT tips so far, keep em coming. I actually had one of those car bag shelf things upstairs that never made it into the car, so now off to stock it.


I too already cherish the times in the car taking her to dance and look forward to having more of that time because it is a time for us to talk, uninterrupted.


You guys are a wealth of information in alot of ways.



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For 12 years I drove daughters an hour and fifteen minutes each way to dance class at least 6 days a week. I always enjoyed ( or almost always) those times. I felt like I had them hostage for 2 1/2 hours a day and that they had nothing better to do than to talk with me. I found that we grew very close to each other from our confined travel times. I got to hear their news and , of course, all the dance happenings. I often read about how little time parents and kids actually speak to each other--minutes per day--and I think about how fortunate that we have been because of our commute. Some of mine did homework in the car with book lites, but 2 of mine suffered car sickness if they read so didn't read in the car. We talked, sang, or they slept.

While waiting I would find a walking partner and walk an hour a night regardless of weather. I also read about 2 novels a week. I also did volunteer jobs and errands. There is always plenty to do if you look around. I did bring the cooler and do grocery shopping. Since I also work full time, the dance evenings are my only spare time. WE always take a cooler of drinks, just part of the packing up to leave routine. WE are in the process of moving across the country for a dance program now. There should be mass transit available so I won't need to drive--I'm going to miss it.

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Guest vakat

Mom, I too commute my daughter 1 hour 15 mins or so to dance classes. I started this past Jan and for her it was a great school placement so soon we will start the commute again. All the ideas here are great but for me the reality was Yes i did some necessary and un-necessary shopping, I tried the walking thing,daughter did get alot of homework done on the road, I made a quit, but still I found myself with sitting time on my hands. Our biggest problem was the late nights. Working full time and going straight from work to get her and off for class just absolutely exhausted me. For daughter she seemed to be tired but never wanting to admit it. This year we have had to change her classes to earlier ones so we aren't so late at night. With this is coming a job change for me. I am lucky that i'm a nurse and there is alot of flexibility out there these days. I am crossing my fingers that this will be a good year as well. Good luck to you and be safe as you travel. Kat

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