For Everyone's Sake

The 10 Commandments Of The School Drop-Off Line Are Here To Save You From Being That Mom

The car rider line is already fresh hell — you don’t want to be the one making it worse for everyone else, do you?

Written by Candace Nagy
Originally Published: 
The school drop-off line is never really fun, but certain behaviors can make it a downright nightmar...
Goads Agency/Getty Images

If you have school-aged children, you’ve dealt with the hell that is the car drop-off and pickup line at school. Getting your kids ready and out the door each morning can feel like an obstacle course: There are sleepyheads to be dragged out of beds, breakfast to be made, lunches to be packed, and, depending on ages, probably a butt or two to be wiped. By the time you make it to your car, a sense of calm knowing that a few hours of child-free time is minutes away usually begins to kick in — only for the madness of the school drop-off line to send your blood pressure through the roof, yet again. If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably wished on more than one occasion that everyone knew the “rules.” The commandments of school drop-off and pick-up, if you will.

Did you ever watch the 1983 classic Mr. Mom? This daily ritual all too often looks a lot like the scene where Michael Keaton’s onscreen kids keep telling him, “You’re doing it wrong!” And all the other honking moms ready to throw down? That’s not too much of a stretch, either.

As a single mom of two littles, I’m pretty much an expert on school morning routines — though that doesn’t mean I’m any better at it than anyone else. But to make matters worse, our school district thought it was a good idea to plant the elementary school, middle school, and high school all in a row in a residential neighborhood (Read: Narrow streets, limited parking, and 4,000+ students). This decision was made back in the ‘50s before the hell of insane population growth, causing the chaotic nightmare that it is today. Plus, it feels like nobody uses the crosswalks, and there are double-parked cars everywhere, adding to the madness and nearly shattering my nerves.

Knowing I wasn’t alone, I checked in with parents — local and around the country — to see what their school drop-off and pick-up pet peeves are and am sharing them here today. In need of a little commiseration? I got you.

Note: If you’re the parent committing any of these deplorable crimes, honestly, just stop.

1. Thou shalt not get out of your car.

This should be a no-brainer. Keep the drop-off line moving. That’s what it’s designed for. If you need more time and are at all able, please park in an actual designated parking spot.

2. Thou shalt not try to catch up with other parents.

Especially by shouting through your window. (Not everyone wants to know that you’re having bunion surgery next week.)

3. Thou shalt not use your phone.

Seriously, there are kids running around everywhere and you could cause an accident. Use your imagination. Not pretty.

4. Thou shalt not honk your horn — ever.

Drop-off is hectic enough. And kids are usually getting out as fast as they’re able. So unless you’re using your horn for its intended purpose, everyone else’s ears are bleeding, thanks to you.

5. Thou shalt not channel a race car driver.

Slow down. Everyone is in a rush (even if it’s just to get to Target).

6. Thou shalt not cut in line.

Waiting for your turn is something most people learn during childhood. If necessary, please take a refresher course.

7. Thou shalt not wait until the last minute to get your sh*t together.

Listen, you’ve been in this line for the better part of an hour. Playing Candy Crush on your phone is not a good excuse for waiting until you get to the door to fumble for five minutes trying to find little Timmy’s lunch box.

8. Thou shalt contain your rage.

Would it make you feel better to flip off the Karen who’s oblivious to the fact her double-parking is holding everyone up? Well, maybe in the moment. But unless you want your 10-year-old to flip off the next kid who beats them to their favorite swing on the playground, it’s probably best to keep your temper in check.

9. Thou shalt not drag the other mom on social media.

You never know what’s going on in someone else’s world. You don’t know that mom’s life. You don’t know her caffeine status. Simmer down and keep your car rider line angst contained to the drop-off zone. No one — and I mean no one — wants to read the vague shade you post on Facebook.

10. Thou shall not forget we’re all in this together.

Seriously, people, the school rider line is not rocket science. And there’s strength in numbers! If we all work together, we can make school drop-off and pick-up less of the stress fest it has become. Will it still suck? You can bet your ass it will. But by following a few simple commandments, at least you can rest assured that you’re not the one “doing it wrong.”

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