Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
For many parents, getting into the swing of a new school year means getting behind the driver’s seat for extended periods of time. When you’re shuttling your kids to and from school, practice and playdates it seems much of your day is dedicated getting them from A to B. But you have options! Take a look at these helpful tips to share the load — and make the most of a well-coordinated carpool.
You probably have a few phone numbers of neighbors who take their kids to school every day. Instead of each parent driving every day, why not organize a way for everybody you trust to drive once in a while? Here’s how to set up a kid carpool you can count on:
Put together a list of interested parents. Connect with neighbors and build an email list of parents who are interested in a carpool. Make sure they’re committed to this — now’s the time to verify schedules and conflicts.
Use an app to coordinate responsibilities and pick up times. These apps help designate which parent is going to drive each day and what kids they’ll be picking up. Check out apps like Carpool-kids, SignUpGenius or Waze Carpool for features that work best for your group.
Get booster seat details. Kids come in all shapes and sizes. Ask the other parents about their kid’s required booster seat. They may have an extra one for you or you may need to hand one off to others for your kids.
Create a schedule for carpooling and practice it. If your kids go to the same community pool, make a few dry runs with your new carpool schedule. You’ll all get a chance to learn the route, and the kids will have a chance to connect in the car before school starts.
Kids will want something to eat after school, especially if you’re shuttling them from class to another event. Take a look at these tips to curb kid’s hunger when you’re out and about:
Email the parents for food allergy issues. Get details on the kids in your carpool before you offer snacks. Avoid treats with peanut butter or nuts until you know if anyone is allergic.
Be sure you have hearty after-school snacks. When busy schedules prevent kids from getting a good snack, nutritious snacks like protein bars and other foods can help tide hungry riders over until they get home for dinner. Peanut-free trail mix with chick peas may be just the answer!
Keep them hydrated. Pack reusable water bottles each time you get in the car. Fellow carpoolers love nothing more than being greeted with a freshly blended smoothie, right out of school. When time is short, low-sugar juice boxes and bottled water can do the job.
Make a clean-up pack. There’s no getting around it — kids are messy. When spills happen, be ready with a kit that contains paper towels, baby wipes and anything else that keep your car clean on the road.
Part of being a responsible parent is being prepared. Take a look at these carpool hacks that can help you if the road you’re on should take an unexpected turn:
Fuel up. When you’ll be traveling on the highway for lengths of time, be sure to fill up frequently. Don’t let your gas get under a quarter tank to avoid running out of fuel.
Store several flashlights in the car. Hide flashlights in the glove box and in your car emergency kit. Be sure to test the flashlights regularly.
Pick up emergency roadside assistance. One way to really prepare for the unexpected is to get coverage that comes to you when your car breaks down. Our roadside assistance program contains great benefits to help get you back on the road quickly, whether there’s a tire to change or a battery to jump.
Have a backup cell phone charger stored. You may need a backup charger when you’re commuting. Keep another charger and cable in the glove box to energize a tired phone when you really need it.
Kids will fall and scrape their knees almost anywhere. Be ready for the inevitable with a well-stocked first-aid kit for your carpool group. And send an email requesting emergency contact information from each driver for their kids in the carpool. You’ll know what to do and who to call if something should happen.
Stock up your first aid kit. If your car doesn’t have one, now’s the perfect time to build out a great first aid kit that rides along with your family all year long.
Review first aid videos. Email a link for all parents to watch that details common first aid procedures. You’ll all feel better knowing that everybody’s on the same page.
Inquire about health-related concerns. Asking parents about their kid’s health issues can be really important if you need to provide first-aid, or in the event of an emergency. Be sure to share your kid’s medical concerns as well.
Congrats, your transition into the school year is now that much easier! As school starts, you’ve got enough on your plate with gathering school supplies and managing new routines. Don’t forget to share rides on weekends and for special activities that fall outside your normal routines.