The summer days are growing shorter, which means it's nearly time for the kids to head back to school — which also means it's time to dust off the chauffeur hat and make sure they get there. For many families, that means carpooling. Follow these tips to keep it safe and drama-free.
- Put down the poolside mai tai and get out the clipboard. Get your fellow carpooling parents together so you can plan the important stuff, such as the route, the schedule and the rules that both kids and parents must follow — like being on time.
- Create a group email or group text for easy communication, and have an emergency contact list in case of, well, an emergency.
- Assign the same day each week or an entire week to one parent to avoid scheduling snafus.
Get 'Em In
- Make sure that there are enough seats in everyone's cars for all the kids in the carpool; there should be only one child per seat — no doubling up, even if it's a short ride.
- Children who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must ride in booster seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recommendations. Check out the BubbleBum and Mifold boosters — both of these space savers are portable and compact.
- Only kids 13 years old and older may ride in the front passenger seat — everyone else must ride in the backseat.
- Keep the car in Park until everyone is buckled up.
Get 'Em Out
- Have kids exit and enter the car from the curbside, and have older children wait on the curb to ensure the younger ones get out safely.
- Especially in the beginning of the school year, remind kids during morning drop-off who's picking them up after school.
- Glance into the backseat to make sure no backpacks or lunches — or kids — have been left behind.
Keep your cool as you ease back into carpool duty this fall, and remember it won't last forever. All too soon, your kids will be asking to drive themselves to school.