Car Line. These two words can bring moms to tears and cause them to pull their hair out. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the car line, count your blessings. You’re not missing out on anything but a slew of anxiety and a daily time warp that you can’t seem to ever get back.
If you aren’t familiar with the car line it’s simply a strategic pick up and drop off routine that each school has put together. The intentions are to make picking up and dropping off your children to school safe and efficient.
Being in the car line caused me to experience what I call the Car Line Blues. For me it’s when I become frustrated, stressed, irrational and angry just by being in the car line. One particular afternoon, I was not having an easy morning. To top it all off I arrived to car line 30 minutes prior to school closing. That meant I was about 60 cars down and waiting. After idling sitting in the car line for what seemed like an eternity, I. WAS. OVER. IT. I was all out of patience and just ready to go home. So when my son gets in the car, he is riddled with excitement, and ready to share his day. But I just couldn’t muster up enough energy to care so I shut him down. ‘Ugh not now!’ This was definitely a #momguilt moment and I didn’t like the disappointed look on my sons face afterwards.
In an effort to eliminate another stressful and painful experience, I started looking at some options to help me deal with car line a lot better. Here’s a few things that I’ve been able to do to get rid of my car line blues.
If you’re picking up your child for school, chances are you’re a stay at home parent or have a flexible job that allows you to schedule your time accordingly. Arrive at least an hour early of the school’s closing time. Chances are you’ll be among the first 20 cars in the front of the line. You’ll be able to turn your car off and save on gas. You can take this hour opportunity to do things that you haven’t been able to fit into your busy schedule like reading, knitting or even sleeping. Once car line starts, you are out of the line 5 minutes top. This option of course if is only ideal for those parents that have that hour to spare.
Arriving for car line 30 minutes early is an absolute no-no. Not only are you car #52. You’re also hanging out on the side of the street, with your car on park idle waiting. Once car line starts, you are waiting another 10-15minutes in a slow moving process.
If you can’t arrive early, arrive late. Arriving late helps you to alleviate any of the stress of waiting the excruciating and painful 20- minutes in a non moving car line. It also helps to minimize the insane traffic coming in and out the school. This is of course in addition to the stretch of at least one mile of bumper to bumper traffic. The trick is to be in the car line with 5 minutes to spare before administration shuts the line down. Every school has a period of time that they allot for after school pickup. My child’s school allows car line to be open for 30 minutes. If you miss this deadline, you’ll have to park and go pick up your kiddo from the front office or aftercare program at the school. The latter may cost you money. Missing the deadline is not recommended.
Prep your Kids
Practice makes perfect and prepping makes for better results. For those that experience intense anger during morning drop off, this is for you. It’s okay to set car line expectations. The minute we turn the corner and can see the school in our line of sight, my son is instructed to get ready. Get ready means, put up your toys and collect your garbage from your grab and go breakfast. Once we are in the car line I complete any pep talk or conversations we may be engaged in. We also say our goodbyes. Now that we are in front of the school, car door gets promptly unlocked, seat belts gets removed and out my son goes. All in 45 seconds or less. If you are taking anymore time than that, you’re doing something wrong.
Park and Walk
If you want to eliminate the car line completely, your child should be identified as a Walker. Around your child’s school there is some kind of established parking space away from car line where parents can park and walk their kids up to the front of building. Now, this option doesn’t allow for parents to be dressed in a robe and house slippers. So parents please put on proper attire if you choose this option. It will save both you and your child from a lot of embarrassment.
Invest in an Afterschool Program
There are a lot of different companies or daycares that offers to pick your child up from school and offer to entertain them for up to three hours. This is a pretty good investment if you’re able to afford it. In most cases you’re spending an average of $60 minimum a week. Of course, this number is not exact and prices vary per facility. This price comes with afterschool pick up, homework assistance, an opportunity to be engaged in some kind after school activity like Karate, Taekwondo or anything sports related.
Private Transportation Service
If you don’t have a need for an after care program but find transporting your child to and from school to be challenging, this option might work for you. There are a few companies out there that I’ve looked into. However, the options are limited to certain areas and certain schools. A quick google search will help you find if this option is available in your area. If you are in the Fishhawk Area, Not Your Mother’s Taxi, service that area. The Brandon area is serviced by a specialized/private school bus company, Kids Door to Door. If available in your area, theses services are viable options to help you alleviate stress and anxiety of being in the car line.
Managing your time accordingly will definitely help you with the car line blues. At times, our rush through the car line is because we have something scheduled immediately after school for our kids that we just can’t miss out on. I’ve learned that I’m more calm in car line when I don’t have anything to do immediately afterschool. My job allows me to make my own schedule and I am able to keep my time open. I do not schedule any medical appointments or work appointments an hour prior to car line and an hour after car line. This allows me to be safe and take my time in transporting my son. This also ensures that I’m not inadvertently ignoring my kid because I’m trying to navigate my way through traffic trying to make sure I beat the clock.
All schools accept and appreciate when parents volunteer. Most charter schools make this a mandatory requirement from their parents. Here’s a way to kill two birds with one stone. Volunteer, at least an hour before school let out. Once the bell ring you’re able to collect your child and skip the car line completely.