Carpools are no joke — you have other children’s lives in your hands, and alternatively, you’re trusting someone else to drive your child around. That being said, there are huge benefits to carpools, and if you can organize one, it’s totally worth it for the environment, saving time, and your sanity. Organization and planning play major roles when piling a group of kids into a car, so we’ve compiled eight tips to help you be a great carpool mom and get through the school year smoothly.
1. Know the moms and dads who will be driving your kids.
The best part about carpools is being able to rotate between parents, but make sure you trust the parents driving your kids around on the days you’re not doing the pickups and drop-offs to avoid any anxiety. It may seem silly, but if you know there’s a mom who’s a car-texter, do you really want her driving your child around? Safety should always be the first concern when carpooling.
2. Set a schedule.
Whether each parent gets a set day of the week or there will be a rotating schedule, plan ahead and make sure everyone’s calendars are synced. The last thing any parent needs is their kid getting left at school due to miscommunication.
3. Keep in communication.
Group texts or emails are a perfect way to keep up with carpool details. Things come up — like sick days or changes of after-school plans — and you’ll need quick and easy communication that you’re sure will be received by all of the other parents.
4. Have a plan and rules.
Make a plan with the other parents that pickup and drop-off will always be in the same place so that the kids don’t get confused. Set some rules and guidelines with the other parents that will be relayed to the kids — e.g., how to control who gets shotgun, if eating/drinking is allowed — so that everything is consistent for them.
5. Make sure you have enough room in your car.
Depending on the ages and weights of the children, your front seat may be off-limits, and depending on the size of the car seats or booster seats, your backseat could crowd up pretty quickly. Each state has different laws about car seats and children in vehicles, so make sure to brush up just in case — you’re responsible for every child in your vehicle.
6. Know your school’s rules.
Some schools have strict rules about children going home with other parents. If your school has rules, make sure they have the contact information for every parent in the carpool, and that they know your child can be picked up by any of them.
7. Make sure everyone has what they need before setting off.
If there’s a kid who’s always thirsty or one who needs a snack in the car, make sure they have what they need, so you don’t have to turn around to help them or hand them anything. Especially for carpools of younger kids, make sure there is something to keep them busy so that you can pay attention to the road.
8 Make it fun!
After a long day at school, make carpools fun with car games or music. Let the kids pick the songs they like to sing along to or games they want to play, and rotate favorites. It will keep the kids busy and make the ride smooth and easy.