9 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Drop Off and Pick Up
by Amber Brandt
Some of the most stressful moments of a parents’ day are behind the wheel… in the school parking lot. We’ve all been there. It’s early morning and you’re running late — or it’s the end of the day and you just want to get home. It’s easy to forget simple parking lot etiquette when you’ve got a lot on your mind, or worse yet the person in front of you clearly does! Here are some simple steps you can fit into either part of the routine that can potentially make your day (and transportation woes) go a little easier.
- Start your morning on the right foot. Sometimes all it takes to complicate your whole day is one alarm snooze too long — and the rest of the day begins to collapse like Dominoes. Establish a morning routine that works well for you (even if that means laying out clothing or packing lunches the night before!), then do your best to treat it like clockwork.
- Prepare your kids. If your children know what to expect each morning and possibly something fun they can look forward to happening in class or later that evening, they’ll be more motivated to get those shoes and coats on when it’s time to leave.
- Do your best to stay calm. If you or your child regularly experiences separation anxiety or feels weepy in the morning, the best thing you can do is make your goodbyes short. Lingering is harder on everyone (and it will frustrate those waiting in the drop off line behind you).
- Be safe. Remember simple safety tips while you’re behind the wheel. Avoid distractions like loud music or using your cell phone. Answering calls, emails or texts can take you out of the moment and potentially create dangerous circumstances in a snap.
- Make sure you know the drill. New to school parking lot policies? Make sure you familiarize yourself with the school’s drop off/pick up procedures so you can avoid being the upsetting cog in the wheel or feeling completely clueless and overwhelmed when you pull in the lot.
- Practice respect. It should go without saying, but everybody makes mistakes. Try to give others who are doing it “wrong” the benefit of the doubt and do your best to set a good example. Everyone wants to get out of there as quickly as possible, so be alert and kind.
- Move swiftly. Refer to above.
- Bring a buffer. Are your kids always starving when they get in the car? Pack some simple snacks they can nibble on the way home. Or perhaps they’re tired and tend to bicker when they pile in the van. Bring a few books or travel games they can play to unwind, or make a quick detour to the park if you have time.
- Take deep breaths. If the school parking lot is one of your ‘necessary evils’ each day, the worst thing you can do is add a bad attitude on top of it. You’ll be unhappy and that will translate to your kids — setting the tone for their day, or your evening together. Do what you need to do to keep a clear head and a positive outlook, then try and practice it each day. You have plenty of chances!