If you have a child in school, you’ve likely experienced the notorious after-school carpool line.
I have a kindergarten student this year so I’m newer to the process, but I quickly learned carpool etiquette: Which direction traffic flows, what speed is acceptable, when to stop and go, and under zero circumstances does a parent ever get out of their vehicle. The rules are the easy part. What no one tells you about is all of the waiting!
I generally consider myself a patient person but in this instance, the wait feels agonizing. Get there too early and you have to idle until the line actually starts going. Get there too late and you spend blocks crawling with your foot on the brake. And then of course there’s somewhere in between where you wait unmoving for several minutes and then meander to the front of the line.
I wouldn’t call any of these options fun, but I’ve found that I’d much rather get to the school 25 minutes early and be one of the first in line. If you add up all of the time you spend in the carpool line, it can end up being over two hours every week! That’s more than enough time to put my car in park and steal a moment for me.
So what exactly am I doing while I wait? I’m glad you asked! Moms are always in pursuit of tips to be more productive, so I have a list of 50 excellent ways to make the most of your time.
For everyone’s safety, I must emphasize to only do these activities if you’ve put your car in park, and always be aware of when the line starts moving.
Taking Care of Business
You know all of those little nagging (yet necessary) tasks you’ve been meaning to do? Knock some of them out while you’re sitting in your car!
- Respond to emails.
- Unsubscribe from email lists.
- Make a meal plan.
- Schedule grocery pick up.
- Pay bills.
- Plan a future vacation.
- Put library books on hold.
- Schedule appointments for the doctor, dentist, vet, oil change, and whatever else you need.
- Write your child’s teacher a thank you note for their unwavering dedication!
New Skills and Hobbies
Whether there’s something new you’ve been wanting to try or an old skill that you want to dust off, this is the perfect time to practice!
- Try origami.
- Practice a new language. I’m a big fan of Duolingo!
- Try a new hairstyle, like a fun braid or bun.
- Color in an adult coloring book.
- Learn how to knit with this handy kit for beginners.
- Practice hand lettering and calligraphy.
- Memorize the 50 states and capitals.
Fun and Games
These activities will make your wait anything but boring! A few are especially useful if you’ve got other kids, let’s say an energetic three-year-old like mine, in the car waiting with you!
- Play “I Spy”.
- Play “20 Questions”.
- Have a sing-a-long. Disney tunes are always a hit!
- Take turns adding to a creative story. Start with “Once upon a time…”
- Practice letter sounds with The Alphabet Game. Pick a category and come up with a word for each letter (A for airplane, B for bus, C for car).
- Play sudoku.
- Complete a crossword puzzle.
- Do a word search.
You can never do too much cleaning. Here are some ways to tidy up from the driver’s seat!
- Wipe your dashboard and cup holders.
- Organize your glove compartment and middle console.
- Disinfect your phone.
- Bring your paper clutter from home and sort through it.
- Clean out your purse and wallet.
- Delete or organize your phone pictures into albums.
- Clean out your phone contacts.
You may not have time for a spa visit, but do these things to give your body and mind a little extra love. And if you don’t have tinted windows, you might want to think about getting some!
- File your nails.
- Trim your split ends.
- Pluck your eyebrows.
- Exfoliate your lips.
- Massage your face with a jade roller.
- Floss your teeth.
- Stretch your arms, wrists, and neck.
- Have a snack.
- Do nothing! Just relax, meditate, or stare into the distance.
- Read the latest articles on Columbia Mom.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Call your mom!
- Send your partner a sweet text.
- Read a book.
- Get caught up on the news.
- Take selfies.
- Find your Enneagram with this personality test.
- Write in your journal.
- Check off all of the amazing things you’ve accomplished with 20 minutes!
How do you pass time in the carpool line?