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Waiting For Kids… 7 Ways To Make The Most Of The Carpool Line

Waiting for kids… 7 ways to make the most of the carpool line

Are you ever frustrated by the amount of waiting you do as a mom?

Waiting in the carpool line…. Waiting for dance class to end…. Waiting on the soccer sidelines…. Or even waiting for a toddler to get ready at her pace.

These times can be frustrating if the list of things you want to do is long, and you feel there is never enough time to check anything off.

I need to divide this topic into a few posts, as it is a big one.

First, I want to consider useful things that you can do during those times you just gotta wait.

So let’s start with the carpool line.

The goal is to find small, doable tasks that nurture you and move you up the emotional ladder. You want things that can get done in 10-15 minutes, so then you can put them down and be ready to receive your kids with your full attention.

Here are some things that I do. I have even created a special car bag (pictured below), so the tools I need are right at my finger tips.

Hydrate or nourish. Sometimes I have had lunch, but have forgotten to drink water. This is a great time to hydrate and keep your energy up! Other times I have skimped on lunch because I was busy with work, so a green smoothie is just what I needed. If I make a green smoothie before getting my kids, I also make them a green smoothie too, heavy on the fruit so it’s a little sweeter. Hint: If you are out from morning drop-off to afternoon pick-up, pack the smoothie in a cooler and leave it in the car. If a smoothie, feels like too much work on a busy day, grab fresh fruit on your way out the door!

Use this time to write. If journaling is something you already do, try it in the car and see if that works for you. If journaling sounds intriguing but you are not sure where to start, try Danielle Laporte’s journal with prompts or go to the stationery store and get yourself an inspiring back-to-school journal!

Listen to a podcast or class that teaches you something you want to learn. Ihave loved learning from recorded classes over the past few years. I gravitate towards business, parenting, food, and “woo-woo” content. But you could even learn a new language!What do you want more info on? Google it! Don’t you get a little nostalgic when the kids go back to school? Well you can get back to learning, too, and the cool thing is that this time you can design your courses yourself! (Check out the StayBasic Facebook page, where we post some of our favorite classes)

Menu plan. The car is a great time to think through the week’s food plan, and having a plan makes the daily flow of carpooling and all your other to-dos so much easier – and even relaxing! If you already know what breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks hold for the week, take the time to assess the ingredient situation. Is there anything you are missing? Write it on a note in your phone or on one piece of paper, and swing by the grocery or farmers market while you’re already in the car. Having a plan and a list on hand can help you eliminate the issue of getting home, only to realize that you need to go back out to the store — with hungry kids in tow!

Meditate. I used to try to meditate early every morning, and it did not work for me – I always fell back to sleep! So for a while, I just decided maybe that wouldn’t be my thing. But one afternoon, working at a café, just before school pick-up, a guided meditation came into my iTunes queue, so I listened, and I have never been so relaxed! So I made a meditation CD, and I keep it in the car, and during those waiting times I can pull it out and get completely relaxed at a time of day I really need to feel more relaxed! If guided meditations are not your thing (or making a CD sounds daunting), deep breathing also works. Take slow, deep breaths to the count of ten, and see if you can exhale to the count of 20.

Connect with a friend. Between spouses, work, kids, house, trash and all of our other to-dos, sometimes we forget about our friends! Carpool is a great time to make phone dates with old friends! If you work, you will appreciate talking to friends during this limbo time, rather than when you are on task at work or during “free” time evenings and weekends when you are trying to connect with your family. Just remember to be really clear about your timing. You want to hang up with enough time to shift your attention and be present with your kids.

Stretch. Stretching gets your blood circulating and gives you a boost of energy and calm, and allows you to take a minute to get more centered. Twists, arm or wrist stretches, and this pose by our friend and yoga studio owner, Taylor Wells, are great places to start.

Eagle Pose for Car {Sanskrit name: Garudasana}

First, set your intention. Why are you doing this pose? What would you like from it? Perhaps a more centered energy, to calm yourself down during a stressful commute, to get present and release boredom while “stuck” in a traffic jam or a line, or maybe to get clarity on a specific thing.

Wrap your right arm under your left with your forearms straight and your fingertips extended up. Hold for five seconds while inhaling and exhaling mindfully through your nose. Do the other side, wrapping your left arm under your right with your forearms straight and your fingertips extended up. Hold for five seconds while inhaling and exhaling through your nose with purpose.


Wait with presence and purpose

OK… now that we have some great strategies for thriving in carpool line, here are a couple of things you may want to consider avoiding:

Don’t try to cram things in that will need more time or attention. Conference calls for work, or calls that probably won’t be done by the time the kids get to the car (for example with a real estate agent or a lawyer) do not serve you if you feel rushed or aren’t present. Only make calls that allow you to be fully present for a specific period of time.

Along the same lines, don’t respond to emails that need a longer, well-written reply. These are better done at home on a computer, when you can give them your full attention and have a proper keyboard to get your thoughts down in a focused and effective way.

Don’t surf the Internet mindlessly. It may be fun to look at the latest Gap offerings or what handbags are on sale, but if you have a long list that doesn’t include these things, they’re just time-wasters. This is a time for you to do things that nurture you (drink water, stretch, breathe), or help you move forward (plan, attend to brief emails) so you have more time and energy later.

Let the carpool line work for you

Just to be clear: The goal of your newly defined time is to fuel your body, mind or soul.

Because you are an all-giving busy mom, many of these things might not naturally land on your list.

When you have completed one 10-minute positive task, you will feel complete, and be able to turn your attention to your children and be 100% there for them when they get in the car, and 100% present while you drive to the next place.

Then you can go about your life, and they will go about theirs, but you both have had moments you will remember, even in just the time you spend together in the car.

Choose one of these strategies and try it this week.

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