Toronto Traffic JamParents watch their child grow and exclaim that ‘Time flies!’ Or, on those endless afternoons where the cranky and over tired toddler simply will not nap, time drags on for an eternity.

As former residents of a major city and newcomers to Smalltown, Ontario, we’re adjusting to a different type of time – time without traffic.

Oh sure, we have traffic. Cars, trucks and boats (on trailers) go up and down the streets. And a friend told me about parents of kids at a school in the next town over picking up their kids on snowmobiles, but it’s a different kind of traffic than the choking gridlock that paralyses the Greater Toronto Area on a daily basis.

Our family is adjusting to life without traffic and on a more reasonable timeline, which only highlights how ridiculous our city life was. Two working parents with two kids in two different daycare facilities meant that we had to leave our home by 6:20 am every weekday to make the prerequisite drops just before squeaking into work just on time.

This meant the kids had to be up by 5:30 am to eat breakfast and stumble into clothes for the day. The birds weren’t even up! No wonder my oldest had serious behaviour issues – poor guy was exhausted.

Now as our family has grown to three children ages 6 and under, we’ve streamlined our efforts. One parent stays home, the other goes to work. Oh, and the oldest still has to be at school shortly after 8:00 am. Adding two children with special needs – with different therapist appointments and medical visits, and you have one busy family with serious time management issues. We’d have to drive for about 45 minutes (one way) to make those medical appointments (which were in the same city as we were; only traffic slowed you down to a crawl). So our family got used to leaving to go anywhere about an hour early.

Life in Smalltown, Ontario sure is different. If I drove for 45 minutes here I’d be in another township (or two)! Hubby and I find we do more in less time, and actually enjoy our drive through the town’s streets. A recent major shopping trip (one of those big box adventures, that required you to pick up stuff at other stores because it’s on sale) found Hubby and I sitting down for lunch with our toddler, wondering what to do with the rest of the day. We’d done a month’s worth of shopping in less than three hours, and been at three different stores too!

This is in sharp contrast to our city life, where lunch is a slice of pizza gobbled by kids strapped in car seats as a parent races to the next appointment or errand, all in an effort to save time. I’m not even going to talk about quality of life here. Check out my post, the Busy, Busy Month of May for more on this one. But back to time.

My daily commute is a perfect example of how time creeps away. Last year, for the first time in ten years my commute was under 20 minutes – without traffic. For ten years I’d been driving for an hour or more to work, and an hour or more from work. Around two hours each day, spent in my car. For ten years.

It makes me sick thinking about how much time was wasted, sitting and waiting for the car in front of me to move. Never mind the delays of an accident or construction – even my little 20 minute commute would balloon to over an hour if there was construction. (Which, as GTA residents will tell you, is nearly constant in summer time.) So as a family that has dealt with time-sucking gridlock, we love the freedom and new found time life in Smalltown brings.  The kids are happy, parents are happy, we’re all relaxed and so much less stressed.

Some of the things we’ve been doing include:

  • Spending time outdoors: Playing in the backyard kiddie pool after school! Playing in the backyard BEFORE school (unheard of!) Enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, instead of watching videos constantly.  In the winter we’ll be outside playing in the snow.
  • Visiting local Farmer’s Markets, Pow Wows and festivals.
  • Becoming active in the community – the library, museum, YMCA and Sports Complex and Ontario Early Years Centre are only a short walk away.

I just signed up the oldest for Boy Scouts (Beavers, actually for his age group) and my daughter for dance classes – all on weeknights, and all only a short drive or walk away. I wouldn’t even dream of this in the city. We’re doing more, with less.

In short, we’re living life, on our own time.

What do you do to save time or make the best use of your time in your day?

Angela blogs about her super-powered, special needs family at halfpastnormal.  They’re recently moved from Toronto, Canada to a small town in Ontario.

Toronto traffic jam photo credit to James D. Schwartz.  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.


Angela is a Special Education teacher who blogs about her super-powered special needs family. She has a 3 year old with Prader-Willi Syndrome and a 5 year old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Sensory Processing Disorder. The odds of these random genetic events occurring at the same time are astronomical. "When you add our typically developing one year old baby boy to the mix, you have a very busy household!", she explains. Angela admits to having too many appointments, too many school problems, and being generally too busy as she tries to live life to the fullest. Please visit her family at Half Past Normal for more of their adventures! If you want to connect to chat, you can find her on Twitter @specialneedmom2 If you are interested in Special Education policies and procedures in Ontario – or just some excellent strategies and accommodations – please check out Angela's other site at Special Ed on the Bell Curve.

More Posts