Did you know? September is Child Passenger Safety Month.
Busy families rely on carpooling moms and dads to get their kids to and from school and extra-curricular activities on time. Carpooling can be a real nightmare if you’re not organized. Below are 10 helpful carpooling tips from Child Safety Expert Grainne Kelly, to help you keep your sanity and get the kids where they need to be on time.
- Keep a written schedule of who is responsible for picking up kids and dropping them off. Create a carpooling calendar each month and provide a copy to each parent in your carpool group. Be sure to include pick and drop off points to avoid confusion.
- Keep a few toys in the car to keep younger kids occupied. Select toys that don’t make much noise to keep the distraction level to a minimum while driving. If you have a DVD system in your vehicle, consider playing sing-a-longs to keep the kids engaged and happy.
- Set ground rules with the kids at the beginning of the school year to minimize disagreements and confusion. Sit down as a group to get everyone on the same page. Take notes of the discussion. Pass out a copy of the agreed upon rules to each parent to set the baseline for a successful school year.
- If you choose to allow snacks in your car, use individual snack size baggies and don’t overflow to prevent spillage. Try to keep the snacks nutritious by only providing cut up fruit, cheese sticks, or sliced vegetables.
- If you are transporting older children, after school activities can often run late. Have each parent provide a schedule with contact information to locate kids who don’t come out on time. Have a pre-set amount of time each parent will wait before leaving the school without all of the children. Help teach kids responsibility by making them accountable for showing up on time or contacting the carpooling parent if they are running late, as it is not the carpooling parent’s responsibility to chase down kids who are late.
- Music can be a hot button in some homes, be sure to discuss music preferences at your initial parent carpooling meeting. Only play age-appropriate music. Avoid music with negative connotations.
- Assigned seating can reduce conflict when it comes to who sits where. If you are transporting kids with motion sickness take that into consideration with child placement. Taking turns sitting in the front seat will help cut down on fighting over riding shotgun.
- Have a predetermined place to meet the kids each day. Younger kids can get frustrated and stressed out if they don’t immediately see a car they recognize. Have a backup plan in case you are late to communicate to the kids as to where to meet you. Update school officials with a list of children each parent is responsible for transporting.
- Notify the driving parent if your child is sick or goes home early due to a doctor’s appointment so they are not left waiting.
- Be aware of car seat requirements in your state, and ensure you have proper car seats for each child you are transporting. If the child does not require a car seat, make sure they are properly belted in.
Having a successful carpooling group takes planning and coordination. Keep in mind that rules are not set in stone and can be changed if they are not working for your group. Keep communication open and be respectful of each others time and commitment and you’ll be off to a successful stress-free year!
FYI: Grainne Kelly is a Safe Kids USA certified CPST, travel expert and the inventor of BubbleBum, the first ever inflatable booster seat.