EUREKA! I realized something BIG last week, something life changing. Picture this for a moment… Our two oldest kids go to different schools. Five days a week I sit in FOUR car lines. You may not know what a “car line” is if you don’t have kids who attend school outside of the home. Consider yourself a parenting Powerball winner, if that is the case. If you are all too familiar with “car line” you NEED creative ways to skip the car line at school pick up!
My mother from Denmark explains the concept of “car line” best: “It is the most inefficient use of anyone’s time and resources.” – and that was apparently her holding back and not telling me what she REALLY thought of “car line.” On any given day, I spend at least a total of two hours sitting in one car line or another. I can see why my mom has such strong feelings against this apparent “American concept” that is so foreign to the Danish way of thinking. THIS is when my EUREKA moment happened! The Danes have been “the happiest people in the world” for over 40 years now. Do you know why? – because they do NOT have CAR LINES!
[bctt tweet=”Skip the car line, start a #carpool. These #creative ideas will save your sanity! #ParentingWin”]
Danish kids either ride their bikes, walk home or go to an “after care” program when the official school hours end. So, how can we crazy American’s strive to reach a state of Danish happiness? I am not in a position to let my kids walk or bike home, we live too close to the school to ride the bus and putting them in after-care is simply just delaying the inevitable car line.
When I worked full time, I had to come up with creative ways of getting my kids home from school. I have used car pools for my kids for the past five years, and they were the best and safest mode of transportation for my little precious snow flakes. I hope you find a solution to your car line night mare or car pool dilemma here – you too can be on your way to taste some of that Danish carpool-free happiness.
Starting a new carpool:
- Send a letter home to all the parents in your child’s class.
- Introduce your child, explain your need for a car pool, mention where you live and how much (if anything) you are willing to pay.
- Include a cute picture of your cherub.
- I may, or may not, have sent such a letter home once with a picture of our son standing at the side of the road holding a sign that said “I need to get home, please!” (I had a lot of responses to that particular request!)
- Ask your friends and neighbors if they are able to help dropping off and/ or picking up your child.
- Ask if they know of anyone who may be available to assist you. This way they can volunteer to say “I would love to help out.” It avoids putting them in an awkward position if they can’t or won’t.
- Post your request in a Facebook community group.
- Make sure the page is “closed” or “secret”, so you don’t announce your child’s school location, dismissal etc. to the entire world.
- Reach out to moms you see daily in the carpool and ask if you can help each other.
- You can alternate days, which will give each of you a day (or two) off from carline duty.
- Split up the carlines. If the two of you are going to the same schools at the same times, perhaps one person could go to one school, and the other mom go to the other school, which obviously will cut down the time each of you spend in a carline.
- You can divide the daily duty. One of you can drive in the mornings and the other can do pick up.
How to compensate a carpool parent:
I have always compensated our carpool parents in one way or another. While it may seem like a novel and fun concept at first, eventually it may grow old, unless there is something in it for the other party. These are some of the ways I have paid the sweet moms who carpooled our kids to and fro.
- I gave a set amount per day, paid monthly. I always paid a monthly minimum in case there were a lot of holidays that month.
- Barter other services!
- Cooking/ Baking. Offer to make them a meal or bake a delicious goodness once a week.
- Babysitting. Allowing them a semi-monthly date night with the babysitting taken care of is something most couples would LOVE.
- Dog walking. Perhaps you live close enough to take her pooch for the dreaded early morning walk.
- Cleaning/ Organizing. If she has a big organizing project, you can offer to help clean her garage or simply lend a helping hand around the house.
- Returning carpool favor.
- Offer to take her kids to their extra curricular activities, if they play the same sports/ music as your children.
- Drive her kids in the mornings and she picks up your kids in the afternoon.
There are so many great ways to cut down on the “inefficient use of your time and resources”, your imagination is the limit. However, my best piece of advice is to always keep an open line of communication with the person who carpools with you. Check in often, pay on time and make sure they are still having fun with it. Enjoy the extra time you gain by getting caught up on your laundry (or some other ragingly awesome activity of adulthood!) – you are well on your way to happiness!
What would you do with ALL THE EXTRA time?
How awesome does “melt-down free mornings” sound? Don’t miss these tips! They work!
Do you want to read more about “The Danish Way“?… There IS a reason why they are the happiest people.