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How to Survive the Car Line at Your Child’s School

Navigating the unpleasant process of picking up and dropping off your kid requires a little creativity – and a lot of patience.

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Keep the line moving, please. LStockStudio/Shutterstock

Car line, car loop, parent pickup line, school line, car rider line, carpool line ... hell on earth?

No matter what you call it, one thing is clear: the process of dropping off and/or picking up your child from school can be a painstaking and dreadful task. As many of us are bidding adieu to summer and preparing to start a new school year, we offer you these tips for getting through the slog with your sanity, your car and your sense of humor intact.

Keep your cool – the kids are watching.

Anyone who’s ever queued up in a school parking lot knows the atmosphere well: it’s stressful, time-consuming, and seems to bring out the worst in people. You might be tempted to lean on the horn to call out every transgression, or aggressively “remind” fellow parents how this whole rigmarole is supposed to work. But we have a better idea. Take a few deep breaths, and remember that kids pick up on EVERYTHING, and ultimately repeat it. Resist the urge to let your raging inner monologue rise to the surface, for the sake of that miniature version of yourself who’s watching even when you think she’s not.

mom and daughter in car
Keep the mood light and the smiles easy. LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Follow the rules – even if others don’t.

There are some universal rules for the car line. They include, but are not limited to: Wait your turn, wait your turn, and wait your turn. It doesn’t matter if your float spa appointment starts in 10 minutes and there’s traffic on the freeway. It doesn’t matter if your child has to pee. It doesn’t matter if you have to pee. It doesn’t matter if Debbie in the Elantra cut you off, or if Randy in the Wrangler has his ‘90s grunge playlist cranked to the max. You just wait. Period.

Don’t text.

Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, no matter where you’re doing it. But ... in a public school parking lot? This really is a no-brainer. Put down your phone. This is all about safety, folks.

woman stressed in car
Remember, screaming at people is wrong. sirikorn thamniyom/Shutterstock

Don’t take it out on the teachers.

They didn’t write the rules of the car line. They’re simply doing their jobs. Also, remember that those teachers have to deal with your kid plus dozens of others all day; don’t let them deal with a disgruntled parent, too.

Be like Randy; crank up the playlist.

Within reason, of course. But immersing yourself in your favorite tunes can be super therapeutic and a great way to pass time. It can also be a great way to bond with your kids. But ... do we really have to remind you to keep it PG?

Don’t take it so seriously.

Yes, it’s a stressful part of your day, but in the grand scheme, the car line is rather trivial. Relax, continue that aforementioned deep breathing, and trust that it will all be over soon.

To ensure a smooth, safe ride for your family, check out all the products and parts available on NAPA Online or chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.