Are carpools worth the effort?

This year I have three kids in three different schools and only one has a bus option. So we’ve set up a carpool with two neighbors.

However, it took an hour-and-a-half meeting to figure out who would pick up when and where. Michael, listening from the other room, said it was the worst meeting he never attended.  (Michael said we all tip-toed around each other not trying to be one who bossed the others.)

We’re using the Sign Up Genius but we had to meet to figure out what made the most sense and not just fill in a calendar willy nilly.

Our two biggest issues are:

  1. I think we need to pick a pattern and other than the odd occurrence we need to keep that same schedule. In trying to be fair to drivers we said we could switch it out each month but I almost think we should just keep it the same as not to confuse the kids or ourselves.

2. Afternoon activities and appointments wreak havoc on the carpool. It may all fall apart in the afternoons when they choose their clubs.

I do think the carpool is worth the trouble because it reduces our driving by two-thirds but it is complicated.

How do you keep your carpool schedule straight? How do you keep it fair? Is it worth the coordinating effort?

(Update to this post: I wrote this before school started but a week into school I am definitely seeing the benefits. Only driving one place once a day is really nice. Also since this month I am not the morning driver I can get the other kids out the door without much stress. I like the other parents who are sharing the duties with us and the kids seem to be enjoying being with each other. The afternoon person from the elementary school has to keep the youngest child of the afternoon pick up person for the far-away school until they get home. The kids seems to enjoy that as well. So far, so good.)

27 comments Add your comment

malleesmom

August 9th, 2013
1:22 pm

absolutely worth the effort. before we left GA, we carpooled with a family that we didn’t necessarily “like” but the shared goal worked. neither family wanted kids on the buses so we just worked it out. in our case, one family did the morning drop off, the other did the afternoon.

when i was in high school there were a bunch of us that carpooled to the high school. many mornings it was a pretty quiet ride as we all lived on the same street but had different interests/friends. as I recall, the parents all rotated weeks and it worked out. keep it simple and be flexible. there will be days the kids don’t like each other and that’s okay. you all don’t have to be friends, just get along well enough to get the job done.

TnT's Mom

August 9th, 2013
2:37 pm

Yes, they are worth the effort. I have done several. I biggest issue came last summer when the football workout was 3 mornings a week at 9:30 – 11 am. Not the ideal time for working parents! We found a college student home for the summer and paid her to pick 3 of them up (all 3 live near each other), take them to practice then go back and pick them when it was over and take them home. Each family paid her $20 a week. She was able to do it again this summer!

motherjanegoose

August 9th, 2013
3:09 pm

My two rode the bus. Until they had their own cars. I did drive my daughter and friend to chorus practice at 6:30 a.m. and we had a very loose carpool. This was once or twice a week. The driving part was not my issue. Sitting in carpool line for 20 minutes ( after a 10 minute drive to school) drove me crazy. I cannot fathom wasting an hour per day in the car but we did have the bus option. Anyone know how much gas is burned with 200 plus cars idling in car pool ( per school a.m. and p.m.)?

TWG…I’ll bet you LOVE the traffic in Phoenix. It was SO much easier for me this past week. I was near the HS that Obama was speaking at and even that was NOTHING compared to our traffic here.We drove to the airport on I10 at 8:30 a.m. and sailed right along.

I was in Denver, Houston and Tampa this summer too. Thought the rush hour in all of those cities was a snap. Drove on the beltway in Houston at 8:30 a.m. with the semis who were switching lanes at 75 mph. I thought I was going to wet my pants. I am fine with 75 mph when I have cars next to me here or out in West Texas or Montana ( 2 lanes) , with the semis. Not so much in rush hour with 5 lanes of traffic.

Momcat

August 9th, 2013
3:55 pm

Especially enjoyed our nutty carpool “leader” who sent reminders to “tidy our car and check tire pressure”. She would send gentle reminders on punctuality and would go ape when parents would switch without her approval as she kept things “even steven”. Pyscho. I pity her son.

mom2alex&max

August 9th, 2013
4:05 pm

I’ve seen more drama come out of carpool arrangements than any day time soap opera. I’ve never really had to deal with it, my children go to public school and they get on the bus. I’ve only arrange car pooling a couple of times for short-terms things like football practices and cotillion.

motherjanegoose

August 9th, 2013
4:34 pm

@Momcat…thanks for the Friday afternoon laugh! My daughter is a getting a big dose of even steven as she is heading into her Senior year of college. New set of room mates. These are girls she met her first year and has become friends with. They have both stayed here and on vacation with us. Apparently, they are much more considerate about bringing their fair share of things to the apartment. She is very excited that she will not have to supply most things while others enjoy it. She has told me this several times this week!

Tip for those who have kids heading to college:

EMERGENCY PAPER SUPPLIES…send a bag with toilet paper, tissue and paper towels for your children to keep stashed away. At some point, the person who is supposed to be purchasing it ( probably not your child’s turn) will forget. Your child will not be left high and NOT dry. My daughter poo pooed this but later came home and thanked me. She resorted to it often and I sent more out during the year in a Publix bag. Those of you who have a private housekeeper for your child’s dorm room will probably not need to worry about this. Ditto for those of you who go and clean your child’s room. THIS WAS NOT ME.

Mother of 2

August 9th, 2013
7:14 pm

Love car pools. Flexibility is the key.

Homeschool

August 9th, 2013
8:46 pm

You don’t need a carpool to get all of your kids to a homeschool.

CC

August 10th, 2013
7:30 am

Love my carpool 3 kid carpool for sports. It’s easy for the most part but one of the moms is a little over the top but that’s her personality about everything so it’ really no surprise or deal breaker. She will even say if you can’t have my child home by such and such time I will pick him up myself. Easier said than done when it’s the coach that dismisses them from practice and not me.

catlady

August 10th, 2013
8:09 am

You know, I have never carpooled! Out in the country is is difficult because you would be likely to drive many miles out of the way to pick up or drop off. Can’t remember being in one growing up, although we lived in suburbia. My mother would not have wanted to be responsible for other people’s kids, nor want to give responsibility for me to someone else.

catlady

August 10th, 2013
8:13 am

Theresa, why does “only one have a bus option?” Are you close enough for the other two to walk to school?

catlady

August 10th, 2013
8:17 am

MJG, when my eldest was college-looking, (a VERY expensive, tony college)we were on w tour of the dorms with other parents when one of the bejeweled, linen and silk wearing mothers sniffed and said, “How many days a week does the maid come in to clean and do laundry?” My daughter and I just laughed!

motherjanegoose

August 10th, 2013
8:33 am

@catlady…I had never heard of such a thing but when my daughter was touring ( 2009-2010) a Mother asked if a maid came in to clean the rooms, as she had a son and was concerned. This was a state school here in south GA. I laughed, kind of loudly. The mother looked my way and was NOT amused.

FYI…girls can be slobs too but if you do not want to clean your own room…you can live in it! I met a teacher who went to Athens on football game days and dropped her husband off with her son and she cleaned the room and did laundry. NEVER on my radar! If you are old enough and bright enough to get into college, you can figure this out for yourself.

motherjanegoose

August 10th, 2013
8:34 am

OH now I get it…that loud laugh about the maid could be one of the reasons some people find me obnoxious? HAHA!

SEE

August 10th, 2013
9:00 am

After watching the video of the beating of that 6th grader, I’m seriously thinking about driving my middle and high schooler to their prospective schools. I don’t feel that there is any protection for kids on the bus if another student (or students) decide to beat the crap out of them. That 6th grader got beaten because he did the right thing by telling a teacher about the drugs (you know, what students are always told to do). He was not protected. What happens if my kids do the right thing (as I always try to instill in them), and another kid gets mad? Lack of security is a huge reason why the carpool lanes are getting longer.

motherjanegoose

August 10th, 2013
9:12 am

@ SEE…lack of parenting is really the bigger issue. You cannot make model students out of children who come from families with lack of consideration for others or no parental guidance. I do not think you can make a bus secure unless you have a security person on the bus. They do have cameras but some parents deny the obvious.

I rode the bus in Arkansas ( past farms and chicken coops) with students from Kinder to HS. This was in the 1970’s. The little kids sat in the front and the bigger kids sat in the back. We, as children, knew our parents would be all over us if we did something wrong and thus we had very little trouble. I would be afraid to put a 5 year old on the bus with and 16 year old now. Of course, most 16 year olds drive themselves! I would share your concern if I had a younger student.

Here is the problem IMHO…would you rather have a bus driver with an excellent driving record who is very aware of things happening on the road OR would you rather have a bus driver who has superior classroom management skills and is trained to deal with emotional and physical issues of children. I, for one, can deal with children but would make a LOUSY bus driver. I applaud any bus driver who can handle both aspects. I do not think it is easy to be great at both things.

SEE

August 10th, 2013
9:24 am

What I think is that they should have kept the children away from each other until they investigated. They could have called the parents to pick the kids up, they could have had the resource officer take one child home, they could have put the kids on separate buses, heck, they could have put the resource officer on the bus to keep the kids away from each other. The point is, the child told officials that someone was trying to sell him drugs, so the school knew there was a problem. The school should have investigated that day and should have KEPT THE KIDS AWAY FROM EACH OTHER!

SEE

August 10th, 2013
9:36 am

By “they” I mean the school. I think the bus driver was a coward, but I don’t think he was criminally neglectful.

And please, I don’t want to hear the “well, he would have gotten beaten, too”. Yeah, I know that, that’s why I called him a coward. I work with severe EBD kids, and they will kick your butt when in a rage. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. I ran between a 6′3″ 200 lb. kid about to beat down on another student. Sure, I might have been the one getting the beat down, but I don’t care. When a smaller student is in danger of being hurt, I’ll do what I can to protect him. Sometimes, the doing the right thing gets you hurt. And it’s not just when dealing with kids, but in the adult world as well. Hiding Jewish people during the Holocaust was the right thing to do, even if it got you killed. Remember, all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.

motherjanegoose

August 10th, 2013
10:16 am

@ SEE…I agree with this: “Remember, all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

Which is why I am VERY frustrated when people say, ” Oh well, that is simply the way things are nowadays.” I hear this all the time. Sad!

DB

August 10th, 2013
11:07 am

So, if they are close enough that they don’t need a bus, why don’t they walk? I hated carpools — our school was 9.8 miles away, and I hated both carpools I was in until I just said “screw it” and we drove ourselves. (The bus service was an extra $1100 a year, and by the time you drove to the bus stop, you were half-way to school, anyway, and it left even earlier than I would have had to.) In one carpool, one kid was totally obnoxious, and would say snotty little things like to my kids and to me (i.e., “I hate getting to school in this ghettomobile” — Her mother drove a Lexus SUV, I had a Chrysler van with about 100,000 well-used miles on it at the time, I kept it until it had 220,000!). After a couple of months of her whining and habitual tardiness, I finally told the mother that I didn’t think it was a good fit, and that maybe her daughter would prefer to ride with someone else. (The mother never spoke to me again . . . oh, well. Later discovered that I was the fifth carpool in three years.). The second worked for a year, but we could never settle into a schedule, because the other mom would say, “Could you drive this morning, I have to do ____,” or last minute “you need to pick up today, I’m having lunch with some friends and may not be able to drive!” Oh, jeez.

If they could have walked, they would have. Goodness knows, I did. I have never understood why parents in our neighborhood would drive their kids TWO BLOCKS to school. Are they so disorganized that they don’t allow enough time for them to make the walk? Are they living in so much terror that they are afraid something might happen? What’s the story?

DB

August 10th, 2013
11:16 am

@MJG: My favorite freshman orientation idiot question was “how do you make sure they are studying at night?” Really, lady? Really? So many parents at our high school senior “college look ahead” night were talking about how they would be using the computer to monitor their child’s spending, anxioiusly asking if they would have access to their children’s grades throughout the semester, and how their phone would have a GPS so that they would be able to tell where they were at all times, etc. Blew my mind — good grief, LET ‘EM GROW UP, for pete’s sake! My daughter had a summer-school roommate who routinely left her phone in her room when she’d go out for all-night parties — because her parents “insisted” that she be in bed by midnight, and would check the GPS on the phone. Well, the phone was on the bed, but the roommate sure wasn’t!

Homeschool

August 10th, 2013
11:24 am

How can anyone watch videos like this, know what goes on on school buses and at these schools and continue to willingly send put their precious children into these situations? Everyone talks about “socialization” when they criticize homeschooling (as if you have any idea of the broad scope of available group activities, etc. that homeschoolers participate in) but this kind of violence, the sexual harassment, the drug use, the Columbine type shootings, etc. are EXACTLY the kind of socialization that kids who attend government schools get. The government and its bureaucrats get to determine what your kids are exposed to and how they are taught to deal with them, NOT YOU. Is that really how you want your children raised? Is that really WHO you want to raise your children?

mom2alex&max

August 10th, 2013
2:49 pm

Yeah homeschooler, just as you ask that we do not paint homeschooling with a broad brush, we ask you not to insinuate that we are crappy parents because we choose to send our children to public schools. Not all of them are what you describe.

jan

August 10th, 2013
4:05 pm

My kids carpooled for 7 years with 3 other families. It wasn’t that much effort to set up because we (the parents) all knew each other fairly well and tried to be very considerate of each other’s schedules and needs. We worked hard to be fair about it. Never had a problem with arranging schedules, even with marching band, sports, and drama club. Or with pick up at different schools. We just made sure everyone was aware of who was riding with whom and who wasn’t riding that day. Frequently the kids took care of that for us. It was also understood, especially in high school, that the carpool waited for you for 5-10 minutes and made 1 cell phone call to you. If you didn’t show in time and didn’t answer the call, you were left and your parents had to come get you. Only happened a couple of times early on, but then the kids quickly caught on that the consequences of getting left weren’t fun.

Sk8ing Momma

August 10th, 2013
5:20 pm

Carpools are lifesavers for our family!!

It’s been my experience that:

1. The effort in planning the schedule is worth it. Some years are certainly easier than others. On the other hand, some years are more “complicated.”

2. “Complicated” schedules should be captured in writing. I’ve found http://www.WinCalendar.com to be useful to this end.

3. Planning a year, or as far as you are able, at a time is helpful. Routine is a good thing! Planning a year in advance has many benefits.

4. Being gracious and flexible go a long way…Life happens!

Sk8ing Momma

August 10th, 2013
5:30 pm

@Homeschool – We are a homeschooling family, too. Shame on you! Please don’t paint all children who attend public (or other traditional) schools and their parents with such a broad brush. Just as you know all homeschoolers are not the same, neither are all traditional schools.

As I like to say, there are good and bad apples in every educational setting — public, private, and home.

Let’s keep in mind that despite the educational choices we make for our children, all parents want and do what they deem to be best for their children.

motherjanegoose

August 10th, 2013
7:15 pm

@mom2alex& max ^^^^ LIKE!

Of course, there are AWFUL/UNPREDICTABLE things that happen when your children are placed in a setting with random other children and their families ( whom you do not know nor can control). This is kind of like when you go to work and get a job, you may have to work with people you do not like. I feel that I have prepared my two for this obstacle in life, as they rubbed shoulders with lots of people who were NOT like us. They also met AMAZING friends, whose parents we have come to love and appreciate. We met wonderful teachers too and they are still our friends. I am catching up with my kids 3rd and 4th grade teachers this month. They are both my age and newly retired. Can’t wait! Never would have happened if they were home schooled. We all make our own choices.