The dangers of driving can feel much more real when you have children in tow. And when you put that kind of responsibility in someone else’s hands, your worries may multiply. Here are some tips to help settle the butterflies in your stomach when you see someone drive off with your children in their care.
In the Beginning
- Meet the parents – If you don’t already know the other childrens’ parent(s), organize a playdate where the kids can have fun while you and the other potential carpooling parents can get to know one another.
- Calendar is king – In order to maintain your role as carpool driver, everything should be written on the family calendar. In addition, there are online tools for actually setting up a carpool in the first place.
- Be respectful of other people’s time – Your kids, other kids and other parents are counting on you. Make sure you’re on time.
- Accept differing parenting styles – Every individual has his or her own view on what it means to be a good parent. As long as the kids are safe, chances are you’ll have to make some adjustments to keep the peace.
- Let your kids be their own diplomats – You can (and should) establish ground rules for your car, but it’s not always easy to enforce them. Children can learn valuable skills about negotiating their own quarrels if you give them the chance.
Master the Details
- Information – Maintain an emergency contact sheet with names and phone numbers, but also include things like food allergies and any other quirks for each kid.
- Work with the system – Schools have elevated transportation management to an art form. Check out your school’s website or contact school administrators for rules regarding speed limits and pick-up locations.
- Maintain your vehicle – This can involve more than just getting your oil changed. For example, you might not know that parents who volunteer to drive for school functions often need to meet specific insurance requirements.
- Seats – Booster seats are a must, and it’s important that you make sure they’re sized and installed correctly.
- Seatbelts – Invoke the buckle-up brigade. There’s nothing more important to car safety than buckling your seatbelt. As a parent, I know the rules, such as not sharing seatbelts and not letting kids ride in cargo areas. Make sure all the kids in your car know them as well.
- Minimize distractions – Whether you’re scanning the street to ensure no children are in the way, or you’re making sure that all of the kids make it safely to their houses, your full attention should be on the job of carpooling every time you get behind the wheel.
- No parenting while driving – Refrain from arguing, persuading or in any way trying to affect behavior unless your foot is firmly on the brake. Pull over if you need to intervene.
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