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How Not to Tick off Other Parents in the Pick up Line

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Tawnya is a freelance writer and mom of a tiny gymnast. When it comes to buying gymnastics-related gear, I'm an industry pro.


What's a Parent Pick-Up Lane?

If you don't have school aged children, or its been a long time since you have had children in school, you may be wondering what a parent pick-up lane is. Well, a parent pick-up lane is exactly what it sounds like, it is a lane dedicated to parents of children who are not riding a school bus or walking to school. Theoretically, in this lane, parents line-up and wait patiently for their children to exit the building and load into their vehicle. Then, parents should patiently and slowly pull away from the curb and away from the school. Unfortunately, my frustration with this process is that it doesn't always go as planned. In fact, in my personal experience most of the parents who cause problems in the parent pick-up lane are repeat offenders.

Don't Break the Rules in the Parent Pick-Up Lane

Admittedly, I am a bit impatient, especially when it comes to rule breakers, and nowhere am I more likely to lose my cool then in the parent pick-up lane. My daughter is in 5th grade and has never rode a school bus to or from school, so I have spent a great deal of time in parent pick-up lanes. Now, that she is in the Intermediate building, I don't have as many issues with other parents, but I have recently just started to pick up my 5-year-old nephew from Kindergarten and all the nightmares I had about the parent pick-up line came rushing back to me. In order to save my sanity, I created a list of tips that will help you not tick off other parents in the car pick-up lane. By following these tips, you can decrease your chances of being the mom, dad, aunt, uncle, guardian, or other grown up that other parents talk about behind closed doors.

Parent Pick Up Lane Faux Pas

To help you avoid breaking rules and looking like a douche in the parent pick up lane, I have created a list of things you should never do while waiting for a child in this designated area. Think of these behaviors as the cardinal sins of pick up procedures.

1. First, and arguably the most important, don't get out of your car. The parent pick up lane is not a parking lot. You wouldn't get out of your car at a turn signal, so why in heaven's sake would you do it in the pick up lane. If you MUST get out of your car, pull into the parking lot. The only exceptions to this rule are if your car suddenly burst into flames or a crater is opening up under your vehicle. Otherwise, you are going to tick off everyone else around you if you so much as open your driver side door.

2. Drop off and pick up times are not the times to make out with your kids. Instead, it is the time to load them in the car or drop them off at school. Seriously, I have seen parents get out of their cars, get their kids out of the car and hug, kiss, and spin around in circles for a good 30 seconds. I love my kid too and we love to hug, kiss, and yes spin in circles, but we both realize that doing this in the parent pick up line isn't ideal. Instead, do this at home, or wait till they get in the car. You may be surprised, but there is usually a good 10 to 15 seconds before you pull away from the curb till you are on the open road. That's plenty of time for kissing and hugging before putting their seat belt on.

3. When the door is shut safely...start to pull away from the curb. I know what you are thinking Johnny and Susy aren't safely in the seats, buckled up with a snack on their lap as soon as the door shuts. Believe me I understand that, but as mentioned above, there is no reason to set in the pick up lane with a billion parents behind you because of this. Instead, use the seconds it takes to get to the open road to make sure your kid is buckled up and ready to go. If for some reason or another, you can't make this happen in a timely fashion, pull away from the pick up lane and pull into the PARKING LOT. It's important to remember that the parking lot and parent pick up lane are not used for the same things. Feel free to take advantage of each.

4. Don't beep your horn! The surest way to be the parent everyone else hates in the parent pick-up lane is to beep your horn. Seriously, unless the school is about to be attacked by a swarm of zombies or another person's life is in danger, there is absolutely no reason to beep your horn. Even as irritated as I get watching other parents break the rules and make the entire process more difficult for everyone involved, you must remember that you aren't the pick up lane police and blowing your horn isn't going to do much and could distract kids that can't help the fact that the person picking them up doesn't know what they are doing.

5. Listen to the people in charge, even if you disagree with them. My daughter's elementary campus is huge. There are five buildings with two entrances. All of the kids can't even start at the same time because the car and bus traffic is overwhelming. Our school district has done everything they can to make this a more pleasant, efficient experience for everyone involved and I'm sure your school district has done the same thing. For this reason, it is vital that you listen and watch for instructions from the people in charge of unloading and dismissal, even when you don't agree. In fact, not following instructions is a sure way to get on the bad mommy or daddy list that I referred to earlier.

6. Have your ID ready! At my school, every kid or family is assigned a car pass. The school created these car passes to hang right on the rearview mirror of a vehicle and you can purchase additional car passes in the office, so even if you own 10 cars, you can have a pass in every vehicle. Believe it or not, even with this very simple request, there are still cars that pull into the parent pick up lane without the needed ID. Guess what happens when you do this? Nothing! Instead, these individuals usually end up arguing with the grown-up in charge and make everyone behind them, people with their ID ready, wait. Don't do this! If you forget your car pass or student ID, pull into the parking lot and walk into the building. No one else should have to wait because you don't have what you need to pick up your child.

Let me Hear your Vote

Check out this School's Instructional Video for Proper Pick-Up and Drop-Off

More Unacceptable Behavior in the Parent Pick Up Lane at School

The unacceptable behaviors above are the most important rules to follow, but there are also several other behaviors that will have moms gossiping about you if you commit. Don't let this happen to you and avoid the following type of behavior.

  • Taking a nap
  • Leaving three car lengths between you and the car in front of you
  • Playing on your phone and not keeping up with traffic
  • Throwing cigarette butts out your window
  • Bumping rap music or other loud music outside the school
  • Cutting, passing other cars, coming in the wrong entrance

Basically, be respectful, wait your turn, and don't commit the faux pas mentioned above. Doing this will ensure you don't become the black sheep of the pick up lane and in all reality will help the entire process run smoother.

My nephew waiting patiently to be walked to my vehicle in the parent pick up lane on the first day of school.

My nephew waiting patiently to be walked to my vehicle in the parent pick up lane on the first day of school.

Share your Opinion


I'm Not the Only One! Check out this Mom's Viral Rant About Parent Pick Up and Drop Off

© 2014 Tawnya

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Share your Parent Pick Up Stories with Me!

Tawnya (author) from NE Ohio on August 29, 2014:

Hahaha, OhMe! Thanks for sharing and checking out my tips.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on August 29, 2014:

I have to admit that I have fallen asleep in the car rider line more than once and was so embarrassed. Loved your list!

Tawnya (author) from NE Ohio on August 29, 2014:

Thanks, Brite-Ideas! It's frustrating to say the very least.

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on August 29, 2014:

This lane at the boys school was always causing some grief one way or the other, especially pulling out of the lane safely as other cars come up behind. It's been the reason for numerous memos to go out parents at my boy's school when they were young! Good Tips.

Tawnya (author) from NE Ohio on August 29, 2014:

Thank you so much for sharing, Ann! I am so glad to know I am not the only person on the planet who nearly loses my cool every day in the pick up lane.

Ann Hinds from So Cal on August 29, 2014:

I think the pick-up line is stupid and I refuse to sit there and wait for the stupid parents. I park at the side of the school and make my kid walk to me. He's now in 8th grade so he can be trusted to walk past the buses. I can barely tolerate the drop-off but do it because we get there 30-minutes before school starts so the traffic is not so bad. It occurs to me when they plan schools, they should really look at the parents who do not put their kids on buses or don't have bus service. There are more drug deals on the bus than anywhere else. Pick up and drop off are the only options where parent still have some control over who their children spend time with. However, great tips and I think you have clearly described the parents at our school.

Tawnya (author) from NE Ohio on August 29, 2014:

Thanks, Nancy. I hate getting so ticked off and I can't believe how inconsiderate some other parents are.

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on August 29, 2014:

I used to go with my daughter to pick up my grandson years ago. We encountered all of these things at one time or another. My daughter was one of those "pissed off" parents, at what others were doing. Good work, and great advice.

Tawnya (author) from NE Ohio on August 29, 2014:

Thanks for reading and sharing. Practicing these tips decreases frustration and helps keep everyone safer too.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on August 29, 2014:

Great tips for being a considerate pick up person. I pick up my grandkids sometimes and understand and can relate to most of these points!

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