One of my big adjustments to having our children in public school was simply dropping them off and picking them up again. *laugh* Right now we would rather do this than have them ride the bus, but at first it was a very frustrating experience. However, did you know that it can actually be very pleasant and easy, and something to actually look forward to each day? *smile* It can! With a plan. If you are feeling irritated through out this process yourself, frustrated, or dreading the whole process every day I thought I would let you in on the secrets I discovered…

  • The reactive plan
  • The proactive plan
  • Or, receiving kids at home

The re-active plan

I’ve actually been very impressed with the systems the school has in place to make it as smooth, safe, and as organized as possible. But when there are 650 students in the school, getting them all heading home is no small undertaking. When I first began picking the children up after school this is what I found. The “plan” for most parents seems to be pretty much this. To wait at the stop sign intersection forever while cars creep through it one at a time. Then line up in the street approaching the parking lot creeping along at a snails pace. Eventually one will reach the drive-through area in front of the school which is the full length of the parking lot. Then wait for their particular child to exit the building as children come piling out and find their parent’s car, all the time slowly creeping forward every few minutes as cars pick up children and exit the line. So a car moves gradually further and further towards the end while waiting for their child, and they may wait at the end if their child hasn’t appeared yet.

Well, this can process takes me 40 minutes by the time I’ve picked up our 6 elementary children. And I was usually tired, frustrated, irritated by people cutting others off or cutting in line, and not being able to do anything while I waited because of needing to move the car forward every couple of minutes. But I didn’t want to dread the process every day and then be irritable and short with the children once I finally had them back in my arms again. I wanted to be able to smile big, and be eager to see them, help them transition, and get home pleasantly. So here is an idea for a proactive plan that can be put into place.


The pro-active plan

Here is how my school pick up goes now. *smile* I have 30 minutes to read my current book or favorite blog while sitting restfully in the warm, quiet car. I have a nice, healthy snack for myself and my favorite iced tea. And I’m sitting right in front of the school doors where the children can see me quickly, easily, and safely. And when then reach the car I’m feeling peaceful, relaxed, and ready to receive them with smiles. Here is the process that gets me to this nice place that I look forward to every day…

First –

It begins in the morning while I’m preparing and eating breakfast. While I’m there in the kitchen I also prepare a healthy snack and some iced tea for me to take with me in the car to have while I’m waiting for the children. I prepare this in the morning because I know myself, and when I’m ready to walk out the door later in the afternoon I will not take time to prepare something healthy I will rather make a swoop on the chips or crackers packages and dump those into a baggie. But I feel so much better when I have healthy food like cut up veggies, and I enjoy it, and I want to eat well, so if the effort is already done then that goal for myself is met. Smile number one. *wink*

Second –

Next I set the timer on my phone to remind me to start heading to the car to be ready to leave on time in the afteronon. In the winter I set two timers, one to start warming up the car (so I can leave my coat home and sit in the car more comfortably), before needing to leave the house. No risk being caught up in my home project and forgetting to leave  on time; no risk for children being out in the cold waiting for me; preparing myself to enjoy my picking-up time; and ensuring having a relaxing time for 30 minutes in the car by myself before receiving the children and having smiles for them when they reach the car. Smile number two.

Third –

I’ve taken this 30 minute time of day to be my non-fiction reading time of the day and I keep that book in the car all the time. Then there is one less thing for me to remember to bring, and I’m never caught without it. I also keep a chapter book that I’m reading aloud to the children in the car because every other Friday the elementary school has early release 2 hours earlier than usual. This means that I need to pick the 6 of them up first, and then wait in the car with them for 20-25 minutes until our middle schooler is ready to be picked up (if he doesn’t have a sport after school, which makes his pick up time the same as the rest of the kids). But if I’m prepared then the waiting goes smoothly, children are occupied doing something we enjoy, and the whole process is actually looked forward to by them and myself. Smile number three.

Fourth –

I plan to arrive at the school 30 minutes before the children are let out of school, before there is traffic at the intersection, or a line up in the street and within the parking lot. While the parking lot line up area is empty I pick my favorite place to wait, directly in front of the school doors so I can see our kindergarteners quickly who are released first, and I park there. This way they can easily and safely find me. Then as the rest of the students are released I do creep the car slowly forward in the line while waiting for the other kiddos, but I’ve had my relaxing time first so it’s not a bother and only takes 5-8 minutes to receive them all. Smile number four.

By having a simple, proactive plan I’ve changed a daily event from a frustration and disappointment, to one I look forward to and so do the children. I’ve added smiles through out the process which is good for anyone. And it’s not an event that happens to me or a frustrating interruption every day but rather one that I implement every day enjoyably.


And I apply this same plan in picking up our middle-schooler as well. Set my timers, I don’t need a snack yet but I do bring my favorite iced tea, have my book in the car already, and plan to arrive in plenty of time to be able to read and skip the line up. *smile* The smiles in our days really do add up. And as many as we can add makes a big difference at the end of the day, and the week! And the whole family will experience those smiles overflowing on to them…


Or, receiving kids at home

Similarly, if you have children arriving home from the bus then I still encourage you to come up with your plan proactively. You don’t have to feel disappointed because you’re in the middle of something and now you’re suddenly taken away from it by the kids. Or frustrated because there is so much to do and now time to get it done is over. First, I encourage you to consider why a schedule is valuable, and then create one so that your expectations can be accurate. *smile* *hug* And two, I encourage you to plan out what your receiving-kids-home time will look like. Prepare the snack in advance, clean up the project you were working on, having made sure that you’ve had some rest yourself that day, maybe put on some fun music, and be ready with hugs and kisses to receive everybody home. The kids will feel loved because you’re prepared for them and have planned good things for them, and your smile and ability to be patient will bless them their whole lives through.


Pleasant, peaceful, and restful – as much as possible. *wink* *smile*

Blessings on your student pick-up efforts,

Erika Shupe