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Thread: carpooling etiquette? *barge*

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default carpooling etiquette? *barge*

    Hello everyone, I am a long-timer on SNK but barging here . . . hope that's okay!

    Ds, 10 y/o in 5th grade, started a new school this year. It's our first time at a school outside our neighborhood, so it's the first time that we have to do more than walk 4 blocks. It's a drive of approx 15 minutes depending on traffic. There is a school bus, but with stops it's an hour each way. Given ds's special needs we decided to make the commitment to do it by car.

    Long story short, another family has now expressed interest in carpooling. We have never done anything like this; we live in the city so we don't use the car regularly. I need some guidance, please! Here are some of my questions:

    1. how do I know that they are safe drivers with a decent car? we've only met them recently, through the school. They seem like perfectly responsible people, and obviously their dd will be in the car too, but I am having a hard time with this . . . . The quickest trip to the school involves a stretch of highway, which terrifies me.

    Related question: ds still uses a booster seat (he is short!). Their dd does not. Do I put one in their car? Does it stay there?

    2. what happens if their child is sick on a day that they are supposed to drive? Do they drive my kid anyway, and vice versa do I drive theirs when mine is sick?

    3. Would it be normal for me to walk ds to their house (just 2 blocks) when they drive, or do people usually pick up the kids at home?

    4. They prefer (it's optional) to get to work early, and asked if they can drop their dd at our house early on mornings that we drive. But that is unusual, right -- because then we're babysitting as well as carpooling? Their dd is well-behaved and self-sufficient, but still . . . .

    5. We hired a babysitter to pick up three afternoons per week, because dh and I both work full time. (Dh works a shifted schedule 2 days/week and picks up those days.) When we hired her, we said nothing about carpooling because the other family had been planning to use the bus. Would it be strange to impose this on a babysitter, transporting someone else's child when that wasn't part of the job description?

    6. They are willing to try to plan a schedule, but they have unpredictable jobs and said that the schedule may change week-to-week. Dh and I both have unpredictable jobs too, and are likely to need flexibility once in a while, but I feel like the commitment should get changed only when absolutely unavoidable, not "Wednesday is better for me this week." How do people usually do it?

    Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom! I get pretty stressed out about anything involving driving, esp when ds is a passenger!

    Lisa

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default A Few Thoughts

    1. I think it is a little presumptuous of them to ask to drop off their daughter early. That isn't the norm in my experience.

    2. I would talk with your babysitter about if she minds driving. If she does then I wouldn't do the carpool.

    3. The lack of a schedule would concern me. I see the great potential for the other family to take advantage of you (especially if it is a babysitter doing pick up).

    4. For us, if our child was sick then we swapped days to drive.

    5. We also picked our carpool kids up at their houses, but I think that is something you could discuss.

    We liked carpooling a lot, but we were with people who were really reliable and we knew. I don't have a good idea how assess their driving record or abilities. When we needed a booster, we just purchased an extra and left it in the other family's car.

    Good Luck,
    Kari

  3. #3
    fatcat is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    i'd pass on the carpooling. Sounds too complicated to me and I don't do well with on the fly changes.

    The suggestion on the early drop off sounds presumptuous to me too, and the unpredictable job thing worries me that I'd (you'd) end up doing the lion's share of driving. If they were planning on using the bus, I'm really wondering if their idea of carpooling means you drive my kid every day since you're going that way anyway. And I'm not opposed to this kind of carpooling arrangement and I'd probably be ok with it if I decided why not, the kid is nice and well behaved, may as well save gas...

    Also, you have a sitter, putting her in charge of driving another kid doesn't sit too well with me, unless you've had a long relationship with her.

    Plus, if you're at all nervous about someone else's driving, just pass for now. I've come to find several parents who allow no seatbelts, jumping all over the back seat, kids as young as 9 in the front seat, etc. Luckily, my square kids report all this to me! They also have told me they don't like so-and-so's car because it is so dirty. We keep a clean car. I just traded in one that was 9 years old and you'd never have guessed I had 3 kids and 2 dogs. I swear there was no stain on that upholstery anywhere! lol!

  4. #4
    val36 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default I would pass on the carpooling...

    unless you feel it would make your life much easier-- which it doesn't sound like it will. Sounds more like they need you.

    When schedules are unpredictable, and there's any kind of other complication- I think it's so much easier to just deal with it with your own family - and not have to worry about how it is going to affect someone else.

    My neighbor was in a carpool-- the other driver was always late and therefore my neighbors kids were always late to school. No way!

    I've heard carpooling nightmares from other friends also. Sounds like a lot of unnecessary stress.

    For a once in a while thing it's fine. But, for me anyway, I couldn't commit to a regular schedule of it.

  5. #5
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    I am a total car-safety/driving freak and as a rule do not carpool. When it comes to birthday parties, playdates, etc, I also find ways to drive as often as I can.

    All the ins-and-outs that you describe sound too burdensome - before/after school care as needed with the nanny driving PRN seem like the best way to go.

  6. #6
    jeninnc is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    that sounds complicated.

    I carpool (15 miles, highway driving) and have several carpools over the years. Right now, my neighbor drives AM's and I drive PM's. LOVE IT. If someone is sick, then the other person covers. I had an extra booster when the kids needed them - I just kept it in my trunk. We live a block away now but she picks my kids up.

    A few times a week I drive home another girl - it's random and no schedule - her mom calls me in the AM if she has to sub. teach. I don't mind since I have to be there anyway in the afternoons but I can see how not having a schedule would be frustrating to you if you are trying to plan with work All of my other carpool experiences have been with assigned days or weeks or am/pm so there is no uncertainty.

  7. #7
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    *Thank you* everyone! I very much appreciate hearing all of your different viewpoints. I guess the bottom line is that we have to evaluate whether carpooling will make our lives easier or harder -- and if we decide to do it, communication and fairness are the keys! Thank you also for the "reality check" on what's reasonable and what isn't. You helped me realize that I am already feeling a little put-upon, and that is a good warning signal.

    Happy school year to all who are in one!

    Lisa

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