Carpooling: How to Make Your Drive a Pleasant One

Carpooling: How to Make Your Drive a Pleasant One

Make the drive to and from school an enjoyable trip with these quick tips.


By: Andrea Updyke

The carpool line is one of those realities few parents can escape. Whether you’re picking up or dropping off, chances are you have spent a decent part of your day driving to and from school(s), sitting in a line and inching ever so slowly forward until it’s finally your child’s turn to get in (or out of) your vehicle.

The whole process is excruciatingly slow and mundane — and can turn even the happiest of moods sour. With a few of these small adjustments, though, you can take control of the carpool and enjoy the drive.

The Morning Drive
Mornings spent getting the kids in the car and making sure everyone has everything they need is not our favorite thing to do, but, with a little planning, it could become downright enjoyable.

Check out these ideas for your morning drive:

  • Pre-select a few kid-approved soundtracks for your drive and allow the kids to take turns choosing the music. Use it as a chance to embrace your inner child — sing along with them!
    • Make sure you have a to-go mug of coffee or tea ready to walk right out the door with you for the days you don’t feel like singing.
  • Smaller children will enjoy playing “I Spy” as you drive to their school. You can have them search for letters, numbers, colors or shapes as you make your way down the road.
  • For fans of electronic devices, play the “I Wish” game where you design your own apps. Start the kids off with something silly like, “I wish I could make a computer game where you make hot dog banana splits! What kind of game would you make?” and see where the fun takes you.
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The Afternoon Pick-Up
Give your kids something to look forward to at the end of their school day by keeping a few snacks in the car they can dig into as soon as they hop in. Use a plastic cereal container lined with a grocery bag as a makeshift garbage can to collect stray wrappers and other trash.

Try some of these super portable snacks:

  • Cereal bars
  • Fruit
  • Squeezable applesauce
  • Yogurt covered raisins
  • Pretzels
  • And don’t forget the bottled water!

While You Wait
It’s OK to enjoy your quiet time in the carpool line in front of your child’s school. Many parents read a book or browse websites on their smartphones while they wait. Consider it built-in free time or a great way to enjoy a few minutes of alone time before the craziness of the dinner hour and bedtime routines begin. If you must be productive, another option is to use this time to make doctor’s appointments and schedule other maintenance issues or make a grocery list for the week. It never hurts to kill two birds with one stone!

If you find yourself picking up multiple children from different schools, some of the children will be spending that time in the car with you. If they are older, they can get started on homework. If that is not an option, have a few items in the car to keep them occupied like books, a portable DVD player and movies, or handheld video games.

If you are fortunate enough to have a nearby field or school playground while you wait, let the kids throw a football or run around and play tag. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way home — ready to get some rest to do it all again tomorrow!

Andrea is the founder of Lil Kid Things and also writes for the Babycenter Blog. She lives in Raleigh, N.C., where she spends her days caring for her two sons, Oscar and Calvin, and learning how to balance work, kids and marriage.

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