If you’re a parent with a kid that has a chronic illness, there’s a good chance you spend a lot of time in your car traveling to doctor appointments. We’re blessed to live in an area with some of the best medical facilities in the country nearby.
This week I had to take my own daughter to Johns Hopkins for an appointment with her hematologist. On a good day, we can do the trip in an hour. This time we conveniently (not) scheduled our appointment at the same time as an O’s game. As we prepared to leave Baltimore it was clear that the ride home was not going to be nearly as easy as the ride into the city. So we stopped off at Starbucks, grabbed some food for the road and got on our way.
As much as I don’t like driving into the big cities, I’ve learned a few tricks to making the most of our car time:
Be appreciative of the precious time you have with your child. I know it sounds cliche, but they grow up and leave home in the blink of an eye. I’ve found some of the best conversations happen with my kids while I’m in the car with them. Consider this time a gift!
Find a way to enjoy the trip a little more. My family loves music. My daughter has set up several road trip playlists for our long car rides. It makes the time pass a bit faster, livens the mood a little, and creates some wonderful memories. You may find books on tape or a great podcast to be just what you need to consider the road trip actually enjoyable,
Allow yourself to be adventurous. Many of my daughter’s medical issues have required that we go into D.C. or Baltimore weekly or even twice a week. I began playing around with different routes to and from and have found some amazing scenic detours, that really don’t add much (if any at all) time to our commute. For example, Google Maps may tell me that the quickest way to Children’s in DC is to take 495 to Georgia Avenue. I did that route many times but the scenery left a lot to be desired. Exploring alternate routes on our trips I stumbled upon a route that took us through a gorgeous neighborhood and right through Rock Creek Park for the duration of the drive through DC. It was the most beautiful and relaxing drive I’ve ever been on. (Beach Drive for those that may be interested. Just be sure to get off at Military Road now, due to construction.) On beautiful sunny days, I looked forward to reaching this part of our trip each week.
Plan for the unexpected. Some of the biggest frustrations with driving somewhere that’s not close to home is hitting those unexpected delays. A car accident happens on your route that mucks up all of the routes getting home. Your 1.5-hour trip is suddenly looking like a 3-hour trip at best. My solution to this is to pack plenty of snacks and drinks. There’s nothing that can make the mood go from bad to worse like being hungry and not being able to get food.
Know your “escape routes.” Find out where the best places to stop for restroom breaks or just to stretch your legs are and know what alternate routes you may have available.
The constant running to appointments can be exhausting, but these tips should help to make your time a bit more manageable and to focus on the positive points, when you’re able.