Organizing a carpool when the kiddos go back to school is not just a green idea.
In addition to saving on gas and wear on your car, it gives you time, a luxury for most parents. Your children benefit, too, from a routine that stresses organization and time management. It’s also a social circle that stimulates the mind before entering the classroom.
Here are 10 ideas to make your back-to-school carpool a success for you and your young passengers.
-Aim to get everyone on the same page by ditching all technology for the ride (that means no checking texts, Mom and Dad). Look for short travel games, have the kids swap stories about favorite weekend activities, start a story and have the kids add to it, etc. The ideas for car games are endless, and they’ll add an element of fun to the morning drive.
-Be prepared for everything. That could be sitting in traffic or needing to clean up after someone’s breakfast comes up during the drive. Keep supplies on hand and in easy reach because with children, it’s always best to expect the unexpected. If you’re toting a younger sibling, make sure the diaper bag is stocked and with you.
-Communicate with other parents when incidents arise. Perhaps you’re late picking up someone’s child or your drive back gets delayed. Make sure you have contact information for all parents saved in your phone, and of course, never text/talk and drive.
-Make sure all the parents who are part of the carpool are either connected via a group chat or app. It’s best to have the month’s schedule in writing so there is no confusion on who’s doing what when. Select a point person to send out reminders. Make sure all the children know the schedule, too. If anything changes, a parent driving a new car or rental car, make sure to communicate that information, too. Have an action plan on hand in the event of early dismissals.
-It sounds obvious, but make sure if you’re the driver for the week, your tank is full and your tires are inflated. Clean out your car and free up space by leaving anything extra at home in the garage.
-Always have a backup driver. Nobody knows when an emergency will happen.
-Everyone in the carpool needs to be on the same page as far as driving etiquette and rules for the kids. Is eating in the car allowed? Toys? Music? Make showing proof of insurance a requirement for everyone from the start. Nobody should feel shy about asking questions about another parent’s driving history.
-Safety is always the priority. Make sure everyone is wearing seatbelts and noise level is acceptable for the driver.
-Be on time. Yes, emergencies aside, but being punctual is mandatory when carpooling.
Make sure everyone in the group is enrolled in MidPenRideshare, which allows you to earn rewards such as discounts at restaurants and tickets to attractions just because you’ve opted to go green by carpooling. You’ll have to log your trips, but the perks are well worth it!