You see them almost every day: the same cars at your kids’ schools, dropping off and picking up the same kids. You might also see some of these vehicles at your children's after-school activities. Recently, you were hit with an epiphany of sorts: to start a neighborhood carpool program that would allow you and other parents to share in the work of dropping off and picking up a number of kids. Not only would it remove several vehicles from already-crowded parking lots and parent pickup lines, it would also give all of you a much-needed break from the daily grind of taking kids all over town.
To start a neighborhood carpooling program and help it to be as successful as possible, check out the following tips:
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Up for the Job
You may have dreams of helping your fellow moms tote their kids around town, but if you drive a compact car that barely fits you, your kids and their backpacks, it will be hard to sign up as a carpooler. If you have room in the budget, investing in a larger vehicle like a minivan is a great idea. For example, the Chrysler Pacifica minivan is definitely carpooling ready. It can seat up to eight passengers when you install the second-row bench. If you spring for the hybrid model, it will have to seat for seven — still not too shabby in the world of carpooling. The Pacifica also has 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row of seats, so there will be plenty of room for backpacks, hockey equipment, soccer gear and more. The minivan scores exceptionally well on safety ratings and its rear parking sensors and blind-spot warnings will help keep you and your precious occupants safe.
Ask Parents with Matching Schedules to Join You
While you might love carpooling with your BFF down the road, she has an uber-busy high schooler and you have a fifth grader who is in one extra-curricular program — in other words, two kids with very different schedules. In order for a carpooling program to work, parents must have mutual needs and similar schedules. With this in mind, either approach several parents who have kids at your school and ask them if they would be interested in carpooling. Another option is to ask the school to post something about it in a PTO newsletter or make a post on social media asking for parents to join in.
Set up a Workable Schedule
Once you have found a group of parents who would love to carpool with you, it is time to set up a schedule. Use an app like Carpool-Kids to manage and organize the carpool. The app can help track who is driving and riding on any given day, and it can also send out email updates to the whole group at one time — for example, to remind parents about upcoming early release days or when a child is ill and will not be going to school that day. If your carpool starts off pretty small with maybe three total families, you can also do group texts to communicate and set up the rotating schedule of whose turn it is to drive.
Setting up a carpool can take a bit of effort, and over time some parents may drop out and others may join in. But knowing you will not have to maneuver through a crowded parking lot every day will make all of your hard work well worth it.
Talk to me in the comments, please:
Do you have any other tips you'd add to this?