How to make commuting with kids a success

It’s back-to-school season and schedules are filling fast as backpacks. Depending on commute routes, number of children and schedules, parents may begin to feel overwhelmed.

Some parents say that driving with their children can feel like the most stressful part of their day. With mindful preparation and tips to remain at ease, parents and caregivers can conquer their transportation goals no matter how many school drop-offs, extracurricular activities and play dates fill the days.

Take a breath

Hectic schedules can frazzle any parent. If you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath. Parents’ moods and feelings can sometimes transfer to children, possibly creating a less desirable situation than necessary. Always make an effort to stay positive. In moments of distress, do your best to avoid negative feelings and remember that the stress is only temporary. Whether running on time or late, you will arrive at your child’s destination. The most important thing is that you and your children arrive safe and sound.

Consider carpooling

Carpooling is good for the environment and can have a positive effect on your mental health. Connect with a trusted parent in your community that has a similar schedule, then talk about the best way to achieve one another’s commuting goals. Even commuting one morning a week can help parents refresh and take on their next drive with confidence and a clear mind.

Always make sure that carpooling arrangements are safe, reliable and trustworthy. Keeping the number of carpool parents at a maximum of three will help avoid confusion and ensure the experience is helpful for everyone.

Prepare a snack stash

Sometimes a child’s fussy temperament is the result of needing a snack break before the next chapter of their day. Keep healthy snacks available in the car at all times to give to your children in moments of distress fueled by hunger.

Snacks like carrot sticks, cucumber and apple slices are easy and clean “finger foods” that are perfect for a child on-the-go. Remember to prepare snacks ahead of time and avoid ingredients that melt easily, as interior car temperatures in Arizona during the summer months easily surpass 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make the drive fun

Dropping children off at school and extracurricular activities can be fun no matter how long, or short the commute. Take turns each drive playing DJ with your children. Don’t forget to include yourself in taking turns! Many parents also use activities to keep their young children entertained while driving. Keep plenty of books handy at all times to keep children entertain, and help to develop early literacy skills. Engage in conversation with your child about the book they’re reading. Ask about the plot, characters and more.

Avoid distractions and be safe

Most importantly, make sure to be safe while driving children to their destinations. It’s extremely important that parents keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel at all times. To monitor your child’s activity, use your rear view mirror during appropriate times.

When dropping off your children, it’s likely safe to assume that there will be other children walking round as well. Always pay attention and never take your eyes off your surroundings.

For more tips and free child development support, call the Birth to Five Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5437)
or download the Birth to Five Helpline app!


All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.