For most parents, when we talk about ‘back to school’ there’s a bit of melancholy in our voice. Having the kids home for the summer means lazy days, less rush, fun vacations, staycations. Lots of summer stuff making memories. But after all the “I’m bored!”, “There’s nothing to do.”, and “I’m hungry!” wails, there’s a small part of you that can’t wait for school to start. While I love having BabyGirl home for the summer, I know she misses her friends. And being an only child means hanging out with adults, which isn’t always that fun. So while there’s an excitement in the air about back to school, as a parent there’s one thing I dread – school pick-up.
I share after-school pick-up duties with a friend, which is great. It gives both of us a chance to have an extra hour to cross things off our daily to-do list. We did the carpool program for two years in elementary school and it went rather well. There were a few parents who didn’t think the rules applied to them, but for the most part, elementary school pickup was met with order. For those times someone would double-park, cross between cars, or leave their car unattended the school was quick to give notice and nip the issue in the bud. And while I was at just one of the several elementary schools that feed in to the current middle school BabyGirl attends, I thought the other elementary school pick-up lines were the same. But I was wrong.
Based on the first two weeks of school, either some of the parents completely forgot how after-school pick-up works or they think the rules don’t apply to them. Seriously, how hard is it to follow a few basic rules? What happened to all those things we taught (er, teach?) our kids? Like, wait your turn, be patient, be courteous, watch what you’re doing …
Adults behind the wheel of a car are much more dangerous than the little mistakes our kids make when they don’t follow basic rules of courtesy. So I thought now is the perfect time for a few reminders to those who will be picking up kids after school. And while this is more specifically written for middle school (junior high?) pick up since this is what I’m dealing with now, it’s likely just as applicable for high school and elementary pick up.
7 Tips for Making Middle School Pick Up Less Stressful for Everyone
- If you don’t want to wait in a long line, get there early. Just like going to the movies, if you get there late you don’t get to cut the line just because you’re in a hurry. We all have places to go. And cutting in line isn’t just being a jerk, it’s dangerous because cars leaving the line aren’t expecting you to be cutting.
- Keep moving up as the line moves. This is how lines work. When people in front of you move, you move too. Think about how it works when you’re in line at the store. It’s the same thing. This is not the time to camp out in one spot like you’re at a General Admission concert. The kids will find the car. They’re in middle school. Finding the right car at the end of the day isn’t all that hard for the average middle schooler.
- Don’t be a double parking douche. Your precious unique flower child can wait just like everyone else. Having kids walk between moving cars is dangerous. You should know this.
- If your child is slow or needs help getting in the vehicle, find a parking space. It’s safer for you, your child, and the rest of us.
- Don’t get out of your car. I repeat, do not get out of your car. The pick up line is not the place for this. It slows down the line, and puts you and others at risk.
- Kids should only get in the vehicle on the curb side. This should go without saying. If your child has to get in the car on the street side, find another place to safely pick up your child. Think about how many times you have to tell your child to pay attention. Add moving cars and it’s a recipe for disaster.
- Drive slowly around the school. Those School Zone signs are not a suggestion. And just because your school may have them only in certain areas, slow down all around the school. Kids who walk home aren’t often paying attention. Parents getting out of the pickup line may have their view blocked by some ignoramus double parked behind them. There are so many things going on around schools, please, just slow down.
Parents have enough stress, school pick-up shouldn’t add to it. No one wants to deal with a child getting hurt because adults weren’t paying attention or were in a rush. And in the grand scheme of the day, a few minutes of patience and courtesy can go a long way. Getting into an accident, hitting a child with your car, or being stopped by the police because you were in a hurry at school pick-up will delay you much longer.
Be safe out there! Our kids learn from us. We need to be good role models. Because they’ll be driving soon and we can’t expect them to follow the rules and be safe if you’re not willing to do the same.
Edited: Shortly after this post was created my friend Jenny from Jenny on the Spot created this PSA. Enjoy!
Stay safe and have a great school year!