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Carpooling Advantages

What I've Learned From 1 Year of Carpooling

About a year ago, my family and I moved into a new neighborhood, which we quickly (and happily) discovered was filled with fun, active families and similarly aged kids. Realizing I had hit the neighborhood jackpot, my mind first went to easy play dates, wine-fueled book clubs, and fun holiday parties — all of which have totally come to fruition. But there's been another, far greater benefit I've gained from living around so many moms whose kids are going to the same soccer games, school outings, and preschools as my own: carpooling.

Of course, carpooling is awesome because it means I get to spend less of my day doing drop-off and pick-up, but that's not the only benefit I've found. If you haven't gotten on the carpool train, here are six reasons you should start now.

  1. You'll get a surprising amount of intel. Kids say the darndest things, especially when they're stuck in your backseat at a red light. From my 6-year-old daughter's friends, I've learned about which teachers at their school are moving grades, who's taking maternity leaves, and which prefer hugs over homework. I've also gotten TMI about their home lives and complaints about their parents — which I always try to take with a grain of salt, knowing my daughter is probably spitting some upsetting half-truths at the other moms driving her around, too.
  2. You might just learn something new about your kids. Your kids are probably pretty consistent in the ways they talk to you, your spouse, and your other children, so it's an eye-opener (and a relief!) to see that the sassy-mouthed, little-brother-torturing girl you know has a very kind, patient, lovely side with her friends.
  3. You'll get to know their friends in a whole new way. Little kids aren't usually known for being super talkative with their parents' friends or friends' parents . . . until you get them in an enclosed vehicle for extended periods of time. While driving my kids' friends around, I've learned more about their personalities and likes and dislikes, forming connections of our own that make play dates at my house way more fun.
  4. Nothing's cuter than a preschooler's conversation with a friend. Recently, while driving my 3-year-old son and his best friend home from preschool, I overheard my boy telling his buddy about all his imaginary deceased animals. "I had a cat; she died. My dogs, (insert 20 made-up names here), all died. My fish died," my weirdo child said. "Oh, no," his friend replied. "I'm so sorry. I really wish I could have met them." I'm surprised they couldn't see my heart melting from the front seat.
  5. It encourages neighborly bonding. Even if you're just having two-minute conversations while you wrangle your kids into car seats, adding a regular carpooling relationship to your life is sure to forge bonds with your neighbors. Not only will you have a consistent time to check in with each other, but it's hard not to get closer when you're trusting each other with your children.
  6. You'll get back more time than you'd think. Even if you're only driving to a school or practice that's five or seven minutes away from home, there's the time you spend getting the kids into coats and car seats and the few minutes you give yourself to find parking and get into the building, and those minutes add up. I've found that by not driving one way to my son's school (which is less than two miles away), I gain almost 30 extra minutes. And when you're a mom, 30 extra minutes without kids opens a world of possibilities.
Image Source: Katharine Stahl
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