How to Survive the After-School Car Line


After spending a few years waiting in the car line to pick my kids up from school, I have learned a few tricks to help pass the time. Here are some of the fun things I do while waiting, and I hope they encourage you to embrace the after-school car line. 

Car Line

Write it Down:

I don’t know about you but when I have a quiet moments I tend to have really great ideas! I reflect or remember something I need to check on so I write myself a note, journal, or jot down menu ideas for the week. I have actually written many notes for my foster parenting memoir that was published last year while sitting in the pick-up car line at my children’s school. 

Mini Spa Time 

I have been known to paint my nails while waiting in the car line. It is usually the only time I don’t have to wipe noses or hold a little one on my hip. Resting my hands on the steering wheel is a perfect place to let my nails dry without bumping them. There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint for a little pick-me-up. Having a fun, scented mini-lotion bottle and nail file in my purse allows me to have a little self-care time. And lets face it, with the winter weather, our hands could use a little pampering. 


I don’t know how many days I have forgotten to eat lunch, even though I feed the kids all day. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water and stay hydrated. So grab a snack and a water bottle. Sometimes on rainy days I make a warm cup of tea, and it makes my time in the pick-up car line so much better. 

Read Something

I hardly have any time to read a book or do a little devotional at home without getting interrupted, so keeping reading material or an audio book playing in the car is a fun opportunity to catch up and read a little each day. Or if you love magazines, pick one up on your next shopping trip and keep it in the car to read during your wait.

Knitting, Napping, and Relaxing:  

I have seen fellow parents in the car line knitting their little hearts out, now that sounds inspiring! You could work on those Christmas gifts for your family and friends all year long, right? I have also seen a few who recline back and take a snooze. Embrace your quiet time and relax, doing something you enjoy while you wait. 



Emergency Kit

Most of us have some sort of emergency kit with us in the car. But with a handful of kids and cold and flu season upon us, I also like to keep an illness kit under the seat; stuff like an old towel, a cheap plastic bowl, and germ wipes. I have also been known to grab an extra barf bag from the doctor office to keep in my glove department box. Because when one child is sick and staying home, the others still have to go to school. So those 10-20 minutes in the car you might have a child with an urgent need and you are unable to get out of the car. Better safe than sorry messy!

Small but Necessary:

There are a few little things I keep in the car like gum or mints, for that moment when you realize you just finished your coffee but you have to hop out of the car and get an update from a teacher. Baby wipes have been a staple in our house for awhile now and there are just so many uses. I have never regretted having an extra container of baby wipes handy for those spills, messy faces, etc. You can even wipe the dust of your dashboard! Sunglasses are another must-have car thing for that rain-sun-rain weather Portland is famous for, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting them at home. 

Enjoy the Quiet

Some days you just need the few moments of quiet. Sit back, open your window to the fresh air, and breathe. You made it through two thirds of your day and you can finish strong. Don’t worry about what dinner will be, and just be still and enjoy the quiet. The car line at school is a five days-a-week thing, take today if you need and relax.