January 21, 2012

How To: Deal With A Long Commute

Thousands of skaters (for the majority, read: skating parents) across the globe have committed to regular treks in order to access their nearest, or preferred, ice rink. There are many reasons for having to resign to a long commute, such as:

- Lack of closer venue
- Better coaching
- Better facilities
- Better club
- More ice time

The list goes on...

Many (some startlingly young) skaters and their families make the decision for the skater to move away from home in order to dedicate themselves to their skating and live closer to the rink, allowing them more free time and less fatigue. This was never an option for me or my family, as I just wasn't one of those kids who would have coped with an away-from-home environment, but of course I knew my fair share growing up, and are far as I know none of them made it to the Olympics. Such a massive sacrifice and life change can't be taken lightly, and one does have to wonder if there are some prices which are just too high to pay. But hey, I'm getting off topic (perhaps a good subject for a subsequent post?).

So perhaps as a parent you are already balancing home life, skating, your own life and dreams, maybe other children's activities, the list goes on. You don't hear it often enough, but yes, you are freakin' superwoman. Pat yourself on the back! Are you noticing that you are spending more and more time in the car, as practice sessions just seem to keep multiplying as your little one gets further ahead? Perhaps you even, as my mother did during my young skating years, car your child 5/6 days per week to the rink. If this sounds like you, or soon could do, then some tips are in order to make the trips less tedious.

To Cut The Boredom
The monotony of the open (or jam-packed, take your pick) road can be boring and tedious, especially when it's the same road and same traffic jam every day. Conversation is a great way to take your mind of the passing time, and it's a nice way to stay in touch with your child's feelings too. If the chat fizzles out, your skater is a silent teenager, or taking a nap, use the time to listen to some of your favourite tunes. I often find popping on some classical music (preferably Chopin, but that's just me) helps soothe the nerves and take the mind off the traffic. Obviously, you need to avoid anything that is going to divert your attention from road safety, and activities involving hands off the wheel are a no-no. When I was a teenager and training all week, I used to love spending the weekends going out in the car to the shops with my mother, only, the shops were quite a way away. We used this time to play a language learning CD (Mandarin, in this case. I'm still trying to learn it by the way... Think I may need to move to China in order to succeed!). It became something we greatly looked forward to, and a light challenge without being too mentally taxing. If your kid is learning a language at school right now, why not join in and you'll both get something out of it!

To Cut The Fatigue
The early morning runs in the middle of winter are glum. It's still pitch-black outside, and the car took 20mins to defrost and de-mist. Your skater may benefit from catching some ZZZzz's during this time, and if this is something s/he seems open to then provide a blanket to snuggle into. In this case, make sure the little one wakes up at least 15mins before hitting the rink, to avoid feeling sluggish and causing potential self injury.

For the parents who've driven, make sure you re-fuel once arrived. When you know your skater is safely in lesson, delve into a pre-packed breakfast you made the night before, with such things as dairy produce, muesli/oats, and fresh fruit. Avoid high-sugar foods which will give you a rapid boost but leave you sluggish (riding a blood glucose crash) just hours later. Make sure you're getting the rest you need at some point in the day. If you can't take time off in the afternoon, make it an early night. If you can't sleep early, there are other ways to repose your body, such as reading cuddled up, or taking a long bath alone.

The Cut The Costs
So all this backing-and-forthing is really catching up with you financially huh? You're not alone. With petrol prices forever rising, taking the car out is becoming more and more of a luxury. Consider car-sharing. If other skaters live in your area, arrange pick ups and alternate between parents. This will not only save $$$ but also rest your mind and body from the driving. If you really don't want your child traveling alone, just make sure there's room for one more in the car pool, and go with.

If no other skaters live around your way, you could still offer lifts to someone who resides in your area and who is going to someplace along your rink-route. Several websites exist to help you find like-destined people to share your ride with, such as erideshare.com. (NB: obviously it is of utmost importance that you make an informed decision before letting someone you don't know in your car. Apply common sense). In this way, you can share the fuel costs.

Be economic with your trips. If you know you need to go to the other side of town today anyway, make arrangements to do it on the way home from the rink. By planning your week ahead like this, you'll avoid getting the wheels out for little things, saving you money and time in the long run.

How do you manage to rink-commute? What tips do you have for other readers on how to handle petrol monies, car pooling, tiredness, etc.? Please share with us in the comments section!!

Have any questions, want to know more, don't agree? Please leave me a comment!

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