I have big time carpool road rage. I get so irritated at the time I waste in the car, sitting and waiting for my child at pickup time, whom I can see sitting and waiting for me by the way, too. It seems bad for the environment, bad for all of our stress levels (will that car in front of me PLEASE pull forward and quit leaving a gap), and a waste of time. Plus, is it really carpooling when some of us only pick up one child?
I can't change the system and I've got to get over that. Our school is actually quite efficient so it really doesn't take that long, but we are still talking about a good 15 minutes at least of simply sitting in the car. So, what to do with your time?
Here are a few suggestions:
Read, Of Course
Designate a box in your car for that big stack of books or magazines collecting dust in your home and get back to reading for pleasure again. Invest in a good bookmark as you know this is just a short break. Also make sure to rest your reading material on the steering wheel so you can see when the cars start to move and you won't be "that car" that holds everyone up. You know the one.
Process Your Mail
Stop at the mail box on the way to school and grab your mail. Then sort through all of your junk mail, tear it up, and shove it in the door side pocket or a small bag specifically for your car. This way you can eliminate it from ever entering your house and dispose of it at the gas station while filling up. Or stash envelopes and stamps in the car and catch up on writing letters - real handwritten letters - or holiday cards or thank you cards. Then stop at the mailbox on the way home and drop them in. Aim for 1 letter a week and you'll have Christmas done in no time.
I know seems silly to remind you to eat but moms often neglect snacks or drinking enough water because they are always on the run to somewhere else. This can be your designated time to NOT multitask while eating, but simply eat and enjoy it for once. Stash a cooler in the back of your car and you can do a quick grocery shop as well without the kids in the car. Everything will keep for the 15 minute wait time and you can even have snacks ready for the kids when they jump in.
Connect With People
Call someone that you haven't spoken with in a while. The forced time frame will keep the conversation short and you can do it via syncing your phone to your car (therefore hands free) so you aren't violating the no cell phones in a school zone law. If you have kids, it's probably rare to have an uninterrupted phone conversation, so take advantage.
And Another Thing...
Get off your phone while waiting for your kid! Look out the window, enjoy the sunshine, and listen to some music. Quit burying your head in your device like an ostrich, oblivious to everything around you, and making it unsafe for kids heading in your direction. Look up and give your neck a break once in a while. Smile. Get ready to ask your child how their day was and be enthusiastic. Forget social media. Be that parent in the car in front of you, singing at the top of their lungs to 80's music and not caring what other people think. Enjoy your "forced" relaxation time and remember to actually relax, not stress, in the carpool lane. It can be productive and fun, but only if you make it so.