When you move to the suburbs, your commute to the city will increase. This is tough for working mothers commuting from the suburbs to the city. Working mothers have a lot on their plate. They will now have to add the longer commute into the city along with work, child care and household responsibilities. How do working mothers juggle their commute?
Buy a House with Your Commute in Mind
Commuting to Manhattan from the suburbs is often a multi-step process involving driving to the train station, catching the train, catching the subway to get to your office and then walking to your office. If you are late for one step, it will create a snowball effect making you late for work. That is why it is so important to keep your commute in mind as you are house hunting. Train station parking is one of the biggest considerations. Most Westchester and Fairfield County train stations have multi-year waitlists for train station parking. As you are house hunting, keep in mind where your closest train station is and the parking situation at each station. Can you walk to the train station? How long is the wait to obtain a parking permit at the train station? Are you eligible for a parking permit? Many train stations only allow residents to apply for the permits. Is there a local bus service that can take you to the train station?
Work From Home
The ability to work from home is probably the best thing that you can ask from your employer. With door to door commute taking over an hour, working from home will add productivity to your work day because you are saving a few hours each day.
School Bus Transportation is Key
Many homes are not eligible for bus transportation. If you live too close to the school, you will not be eligible for bus transportation. In Westchester County, Elementary School and Middle School students who live more than 2.0 miles from school are eligible for bus transportation while High School students who live more than 3.0 miles from their school are eligible for bus transportation. That means if you live less than 2 miles away from school, you will need to drop off and pick up your Elementary School child. To make it more complicated, some districts are more generous and actually offer bus transportation even if you live less than 2 miles. While other districts don’t offer bus transportations at all. This holds true for Westchester Cities where they are not required by law to offer Bus Transportation. So you should check with your district to confirm.
If your child is attending private then you may also be eligible for bus transportation. In Westchester, non-city districts are required to provide bus transportation to students attending private or parochial schools residing within 15 miles to school. Special Education students attending schools within 50 miles are eligible for bus transportation in non-city districts. Click here to read more about Westchester school bus transportation.
Pick a Day Care or Preschool near the train station
For those of you sending your child to preschool or day care, you should pick a day care or preschool that fits into your daily commute. Ideally, you should find a day care or preschool that is located between your home and the train station so you can drop off and pickup with ease.
After School Program
Most schools offer extended day or after school programs for working parents where your child will be supervised and have time for some structured activities and homework until it is time for you to pickup. The local Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and YWCA also have after school programs. Many of these programs offer bus transportation and will pickup your child from school and take them to the Y or Boys and Girls Club. However, many of these programs have pickup times of 6pm or 6:30pm which can be too early for working parents commuting in from the city.
Rushing home to pickup your child at 6:30pm can be very stressful or sometimes impossible. Many families who live in Westchester and Fairfield County, end up hiring a sitter, nanny or Au Pair to pickup their kids after school. That way your child can have downtime at home, go to playdates after school or attend after school sports or enrichment classes. One thing to remember is that often times there are early dismissals or snow days or you get a call that your child is sick. Just make sure you have flexibility with your childcare provider and he/she can pickup your child early or stay home with your child when needed.
Living in the suburbs has many advantages. The longer commute time is definitely one of the negatives. However, with enough planning and research, you can make it manageable.
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