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In just a few short weeks, it’ll be time to go back to school. Odds are at some point you might have signed up to be involved in a carpool for the new semester, which is both exciting and a little daunting at the best of times. Whether you’re a carpool veteran or first timer, a little refresher course in carpool etiquette certainly wouldn’t go amiss after this long Summer break.

Here is a list of basic carpool dos and don’ts to help you beat the back to school madness.

Do:

  • Stay off your phone.  No parent should be texting, talking and driving at the same time, whether or not there are kids in the car. Try and keep phone use to an absolute minimal and use this time together  to connect and relate to your kids. Ask them about their day, their activities, what they’re looking forward to lately. If you’re in a busy carpool line, it’s way more important to focus on the children than it is to make lunch plans or appointments.
  • Keep your car clean.
    Stopping in the middle of the carpool lane to move grocery bags, luggage or just general clutter before the kids get inside your car is inconvenient and just a little bit impolite. If you’re a carpool parent, make an effort to keep your vehicle seats available for passengers and keep the clutter at home.
  • Have an organized chain of command.
    Life happens and sometimes plans need to be changed at the last minute. If you are unable to execute your carpool parent duties, make sure you have a plan b in place. Keep a list of the necessary phone numbers handy at all times, and be timeous when letting people know about any complications.
  • Come to a complete stop.
    Not only do your passengers have to get out by themselves, they’re probably handling projects, backpacks and show and tell paraphernalia. A slow roll and a definitive halt are not the same thing. Be patient when waiting for them to unload.

Don’t:

  • Skip getting dressed that day.
    It might be tempting to wear your pajamas  on the earlier mornings, but you never know what’s going to happen. If you have to get out of your car at any point, you don’t want to be caught in your bunny slippers. Now, we’re not saying you need to look like a Vogue cover model for the carpool run, but brushing your hair and wearing an actual pair of shoes goes a long way.
  • Have a PTA meeting in the carpool lane.
    The carpool lane is a well oiled-machine that doesn’t take kindly to dawdling. Just because you see your kid’s science teacher, doesn’t mean you need to hold up the process to discuss their latest homework assignment. Rather make an appointment after hours. You’ll avoid the wrath of other parents and not embarrass your child that way.
  • Bring your pets with you.
    Nothing is more distracting to teachers and students than a four legged friend in the car. They are easily excitable, take up space and are a bit unpredictable. Unless you know perfectly well that your dog is going to behave appropriately, don’t bring him along.
  • Overload your vehicle.
     Only ever commit to having as many passengers as you have seatbelts. ‘Double buckling” will make the ride cramped, unsafe and stressful and nobody needs that on the way to school.

Best of luck out there, road warriors!

By Matt Stewart