As of this month, our family has now lived in our “new home” for 4 years. We moved from the edge of Nashville to a commuter town, or bedroom community, which is 36 miles from Nashville.
We reside in a town full of other families who are in the same situation as us: We drive nearly an hour to get to work each day, yet we live, eat, and sleep in our cookie-cutter homes which were built on top of old farm land.
So while living in a commuter town is great because it provides a more affordable, quiet, safe community to raise a family in an excellent school district, the major downside is that it’s easy to feel trapped there. This is because commuter towns typically have little commercial or industrial activity beyond a small amount of locally oriented retail businesses.
Therefore, the temptation lies in basing weekend plans around going to Nashville; having to travel with young kids for an hour one way, based around the kids’ desperate needs for naps they don’t want- plus having to pay for parking, food, and entertainment. Otherwise, we end up ironically feeling “stuck” in our house.
But this past weekend was really good for our family. And the thing is, we didn’t do much.
It was so noticeably enjoyable, that I decided to write this blog post to determine the formula for our success. So here it goes…
1. We didn’t leave town. When you have young kids, being in a car can pretty quickly drain your happiness level as a parent; especially if that drive is any longer than 10 minutes. So much stress is elevated from both the parents and the children when the family doesn’t have to leave town. Because even if it’s in the name of entertainment, it’s often not worth it if by the time you get there, everybody is tired and frustrated.
2. We didn’t eat any meals at restaurants. While not having to cook, or sit through a meal with kids who don’t want to eat anyway, then have to clean up for that meal is a glorious thing, the reality is, it’s still not that great to have to pay money for food while having to entertain and referee kids who don’t want to be there in the first place. When I was a kid, I loved eating at restaurants. But I recognize that my kids’ generation is apparently not wired the same way.
3. We did hang out at a locally owned coffee shop. While dining at a restaurant can be a bit too much with young kids, going out for coffee can be totally enjoyable for the whole family. We visited our favorite local coffee shop, Legacy Coffee, this past Saturday morning. Not only is the coffee the best in town, according to my wife and me, but there are plenty of freshly baked pastries for the kids. So we hung out for about 20 minutes, all enjoying our delicious calories. It was a fun outing, yet it didn’t require much of a drive, or a time commitment, or a heavy bill, yet it helped contribute to a local business.
So that’s my advice, if your family also lives in a commuter town.
Sure, we travel to my parents’ house about 2 and a half hours away once a month, and go on vacation to California as well as Florida each year.
But other than that, the majority of our weekends take place where we actually live. So for those weekends, I will be more mindful of these three tips I learned this past weekend.