I recently discovered the wonderful world of carpooling. Our family takes turns with another family who has a daughter at my stepson’s preschool and it has been a great experience so far.
Sure, it tags on a little extra time on the day that it is our turn to drive, but it is so nice to not have to go through the preschool drop-off/pick-up motions an extra 2 – 4 times per week.
Our carpooling situation has also meant an increase in accountability, of course. On the days that it is our turn to drive, we are responsible for getting a second child to school on time and safely with all of her belongings in tact.
Here are a few things I’ve strived to do since our carpooling arrangement began:
1. Be on time. Of course you never want to be late when it is your turn to do the driving, but you also do not want to be particularly early. Parents need every single second in the morning to make sure their children are ready to head out for the day. Any stolen time can lead to crusted breakfast left on the face or a lunch left on the counter. My carpooling buddy and I send a text that we are “on the way” just before pulling out of our driveway and it serves as a five minute warning to finish up those last-minute morning details.
2. Address concerns upfront. If you know that your child is allergic to nuts, bring it up. This may seem silly for a simple drive to and from school, but an afternoon snack provided by the other parent (to be nice) can turn dangerous if not addressed right away. Discuss what you want to do in the case of a sick child when it is your turn to drive and what discipline measures each family feels comfortable with if there is misbehavior in the car. Think of the safety of both children and of yourself — the one behind the wheel.
3. Be ready. If it is not your turn to carpool, keep an eye on your driveway for the other party. The other parent should never have to get all the way out of the car and knock on your door to notify you that they have arrived. If your child needs a few more seconds to finish throwing on shoes or using the bathroom, open your front door and wave to the driver — signaling that you know he or she is there and your child is on the way. Remember that both parties are doing the other a favor on the respective days and help out the cause.
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