When I was a teenager, my school district didn't have busing. We were a city with neighborhood schools and everyone either walked or was driven to school. So, my mom hooked up with a couple of my friends and created a carpool to and from our private school. It worked out great for everyone.
These days, with gas prices sky-high and rising (who knew that was possible?!), carpooling sounds like a great idea again. So, what should you know about starting a carpool?
Starting a carpool begins with the families -- specifically the moms and dads who will be driving. If you know people who have similar commitments to your children, then they are good people to mention it to. Once you have a carpool group set up, then it's time to get down to the nitty gritty.
Rules for every family are different. Maybe you allow eating in the car and others don't. Whatever it is, be upfront with the kids (and the parents!) about your expectations in the car. "I recommend setting some ground rules up front with the kids, especially when they're young. Friendly reminders could include, 'Stay in your own space. Never unbuckle your seatbelt while we're driving. Speak in an inside car voice.' Also, if there are any eating/drinking rules, state them before you have mashed cookies and milk everywhere," says Amy Kossoff Smith, mom of three, of www.MomTiniLounge.com.
Mom of two Cate O'Malley of Sweetnicks.com agrees. "By setting up expectations from the get-go, it will relieve you from uncomfortable discussions later on," says O'Malley.
Setting up the carpool is great, but what about maintaining it? Contact with the other drivers is absolutely essential, so make sure you get everyone's digits. "For parent communication, I highly recommend keeping home/cell/nanny phone numbers readily accessible if you need to reach someone's parent," says Smith.
Carpooling to school can sure be a huge help, but it's not the only place where you can benefit from carpooling. Activities -- from youth group meetings to soccer practice -- are prime for carpooling. You can also carpool with other families for household activities like grocery shopping and errand runs.
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