Unless you happen to be a parent who feels like half of your life is spent driving your children here and there, then you may not fully realize just how stressful it can be to accommodate the crazy transportation needs of the younger crowd. HopSkipDrive commissioned a back-to-school transportation report with findings which probably surprised not one single parent. These findings included:
- Close to half (44 percent) of all parents say they spend five hours a week or more, driving their children to and from school and extra-curricular activities.
- For many parents, that number is even higher, with some even saying they have jeopardized their job to meet their child’s transportation needs.
- More than a third of the parents polled said being a taxi driver for their children is even more stressful than doing their own taxes.
- About 40 percent of the parents said their regular work schedule is affected on a weekly basis due to the amount of driving they do on behalf of their children.
- While many parents do their best to work out carpool situations with neighbours and friends who also have children, for seven percent of parents, these carpool arrangements fall through at least once a week.
- Finally, a full one-fifth of parents say being a taxi driver for their children is the very worst part about back-to-school.
How to Lessen the Stress of Being the Taxi Driver for Your Kids
When there are no last-minute surprises as far as where your kids need to be at any given moment, the stress related to taking them here and there is greatly minimized. Some parents swear by a big white board on a kitchen wall to keep up with everyone’s schedules. Others use a reminder app on their phone, while still others use an old-fashioned pen and paper to make a list.
Whatever your method, try to have your children’s schedule for the week in place by Sunday night so you have a good handle on where they need to be, when they need to be there, and who will be delivering them and picking them up. If you are a divorced parent, you may need to coordinate with your ex, or if your kids are in a carpool, with other carpool parents. That being said, no matter how well you plan, there will always be last-minute surprises, so try to have a Plan B in mind should changes occur.
Safety First for All Those in the Car
Safety is a crucial issue when you are transporting children. Some safety tips that can ensure your precious cargo remains safe and sound as you taxi them here and there include:
- Buckle Up – According to Consumer Reports, despite the fact that seat belts save lives, many people still do not buckle up—and do not ensure their children are safely seat-belted. In fact, studies have shown seat belts are responsible for saving 329,715 lives over the past five decades.
- Make Sure All Car Seats are Correctly Installed – Consumer Reports also found that a whopping 73 percent of all child car seats are improperly installed. Children who are under the age of 12 should always ride in the car’s rear seat, either using the vehicle’s seat belt or in an age-appropriate car seat. Car seats which are not installed tightly enough is the number one problem as far as improperly installed car seats. For stress-free seat installation, you can go to www.safekids.org to find a car seat technician near you who can both inspect the seat, and make sure it is properly installed.
- Make Sure All Items in Your Car are Secure – You might be surprised to know that the loose items in your car can literally turn into dangerous projectiles in the event of a car collision—or even when you have to hit your brakes hard to avoid an accident. Whenever possible, place all backpacks, sports gear, etc. in the trunk, or, if you drive a mini-van, in the back using a net or cargo anchors.
- Never Text and Drive – This one is pretty self-explanatory. No matter how alluring the buzzes and beeps of your cell phone may be, no text, social media post, email or call is worth a life. Put your cell phone in the glove box when you drive, no exceptions.
- Never Leave Children Alone In or Around Cars – Children die of heatstroke every single year, after being left in a closed vehicle alone. Make sure you know where your child is at all times, even leaving reminders for yourself to remember the child in the back seat.
If you are organized, and your children are safe in your vehicle, you have automatically lessened some of the stress which accompanies taxiing children to school and activities. Take a deep breath and remember that children grow up quickly—one day you may actually remember these hectic days with nostalgia!