Remembering Carpool Etiquette
As a parent we have all had the joys, and stresses, of driving the carpool to school. There are times when we want to scream, pull our hair out, or just lay on the horn and let out our frustrations. Those times can be avoided if certain rules of carpool etiquette are set in place from the start and followed. Here are a few things to discuss and consider before you agree to drive for the dreaded carpool.
Know the Schedule:
Nothing stresses a parent like a carpool driver who doesn’t show or is constantly late. Be sure you know the days you are driving, the time they need to arrive to school, and the amount of time it takes to pick up all the little passengers. On days you are driving it is not uncommon to have to wake up a little earlier than normal. Be prepared.
Notify of any Changes:
With other parents trusting their children’s safety in your hands, it is only proper to notify each parent of any changes. Be sure you have all of their contact information so you can call, email, or text if you are not going to be able to drive your turn or if the driver changes. A little consideration can avoid a larger situation.
Set Rules for the Children:
I have seen a lot of carpools that were full of unruly children jumping and dancing around. Be sure to let everyone know in the beginning what rules you have for your car. Let them know whether or not they are allowed to have drinks or snacks, whether there is going to be music or not, and what kind of talking is acceptable. If they begin to talk badly about other classmates or teachers, let them know it is not acceptable.
With other parent’s loved ones in your care, you want to be sure to mind the rules of the road more so than usual. Make sure all the children are safely belted and secured, drive below the speed limit, use your turn signals and avoid excessive lane changes. Be sure your vehicle is properly insured with enough liability coverage. Have all the other parents information with you in case an accident or problem does arise.
When you finally arrive at the school it is common to find a long line of cars waiting. If you are on a short schedule you may want to arrive earlier rather than closer to the schools opening bell. Arriving too late might place you in the back of a long line that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to and hour to get out of.
While waiting in line try to be patient. There are many parents turning to carpooling for one reason or another and they are in the same line as you. Honking the horn, losing your cool, or yelling at other drivers only causes more problems.
Watch the Other Drivers:
You may know how to drive safely, but not all parents do. Watch for other parents pulling out without looking, speeding through the parking lot, or even driving the wrong way through the line. Allow yourself enough time and space to avoid an inept driver.
We all want updates on how our children are doing in school, how their day went, or even for their teacher to explain an assignment or project. The carpool line is not the time for those updates and explanations. When you reach the front of the line, kiss your child good-bye, wish them a good day, and keep the line moving.
If you need or want to talk with the teacher or spend more than a couple of minutes there, park your car in a designated parking space and walk up to the school. The carpool line is not a good place to park and you will hold up the rest of the parents trying to pick up or drop off their children.
Carpooling is a great way to save on gas and time and with a little planning and consideration it can be a stress free ride. Take the time to organize with other parents and set the rules in place before starting the drive. Pay attention, be safe, and have a great school year.
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