How much time do you spend driving your kids to and from school, sports, playdates and everything else that’s helping them grow into well-rounded people? If it feels like you spend more time behind the wheel than at home, you may not be far from the truth.
According to a survey by carpooling service HopSkipDrive, 51% of parents spend upwards of five hours a week driving their kids around—and 13% devote more than 10 hours per week to shuttling duties. Considering the survey polled both moms and dads, we wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers skew even higher among women who typically take on more of that unpaid work during the day.
While the kids aren’t paying fares, all this driving often comes at the real expense of parents’ paying jobs: Two-thirds of survey takers say drop-offs and pick-ups pull them away from employment on a regular basis. A further 42% say they’ve put their job at risk to meet a child’s transportation needs.
It’s pretty clear that driving around so much puts pressure on families.
What are the alternatives to calling your first-grader an Uber?
Car services for kids—including HopSkipDrive, GoKid, Kango and others—are increasingly popular options. Then there is the old-fashioned neighborhood carpool with parents of kids on similar schedules. This doesn’t get you totally off the hook, but leaving the office to drive to dance one day a week is a lot better than doing it every afternoon.
Ditch the car
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, walking to school can benefit kids from a fitness standpoint—but few kids are getting to school on their own two feet. Although this simply may not be an option for some families due to distance and safety, it is worth looking into at least on an occasional basis for many of us. You could also consider hooking up a bike trailer for a little exercise of your own or helping your teen get started on public transportation.
If that still seems like too much, you may want to consider cutting some non-essential trips in favor of some self-care (or your paycheck). After all, we know moms are working almost 100 hours a week—or the equivalent of two and a half full-time jobs.
Driving while tired can be dangerous, so if you feel like you’re practically a long-haul trucker, consider making some changes to your family’s activity and transportation schedule. Just because your mini-van can hold every piece of sports gear imaginable doesn’t mean your child has to do all of those activities.
[This post was first published October 7, 2017.]