If you’ve ever driven your children to school – even just one time – then you are undoubtedly familiar with a truly cultural experience known as The Carpool Line.
That big sprawling parking lot in front of your child’s school is so much more than a place to park your car. For 15 sweat-inducing minutes at the beginning and end of each day, it’s more like an automotive racetrack. No, you never break 5 mph, but this twice-a-day ritual requires precision driving maneuvers and a thorough understanding of Carpool Law.
You see, there are rules. Simple rules and complicated rules and even rules that nobody tells you. (It’s quite possible that some are secretly passed from one generation of parents to the next.)
As we settle into another new school year, we thought we’d compile a few tips that are sure to help survive your next Carpool experience.
Know the “traffic pattern” at your child’s school. Most likely, you will be expected to enter in a specific place and exit in another. If you try to go against the flow, you could put young children in harm’s way. (And you may ruffle a few feathers, too.)
Don’t talk or text on your cell phone while you’re in line. Yes, we know this is a tough one, especially for multi-taskers, but it’s best to be alert as you inch your way toward the front of the line. Plus, it’s always nice to smile and greet teachers, parents and children who may be waiting nearby.
Arrive at the appropriate time. This one is a bit tricky because this “magical” time varies from school to school. After a few weeks, though, you’ll know when you should arrive in order to spend the least amount of time in line. (Arrive too early, and you’ll sit for 30 minutes before the bell rings. Arrive too late, and even though you’re on school property, it will take 20 minutes to snake your way through the parking lot.)
Be a friend to the environment. You may find yourself sitting in one spot for a few minutes. Be mindful of “no idling” zones, which are common at many schools. Turn off your engine until it’s time to move forward.