Tips for Surviving the Back-to-School Pick up

“It’s a beautiful thing to sit in the car for 20-30 minutes, with the sun beaming down onto only one side of your face, two kids screaming in the back, and the sound of your voice being completely ignored.”…Said no mom ever.

To Do Before Pick up:

2:00pm – Pack after school activities bags √

2:20pm – Gab snacks 

2:40pm – Wake baby up from nap 

2:50pm – First school pick up 

3:15pm – Second School pick up 

3:30pm – Drop off at dance studio 

3:45pm – Drop off at soccer practice 


For my two years as a full time nanny for a family of four this was my life Monday through Friday. If I wasn’t picking up one kid then I was dropping off the other.  I was waking the 6 month old sweet sleeping baby, strapping him in and out of his car seat to pick up his three older siblings. 

So it was me and every other mom/dad/nanny trying be at the same place at the same time then hustling the kids to get to their practices in time…for once.  It can drive you a little insane

Well I came up with a list for all of you in that same/similar situation of tips that I found very helpful for surviving the pick up line! 

Back-to-School Tips for Surviving the Pick up Line:

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Download Music Ahead of Time

If you can get the whole car singing then every one wins! 

Bonus tip: A popular game we played during pick up was called “Radio Station”. The kids would start singing a song then I would make the static noise while pretending to change the station and they would start on a new song. MAJOR fun! The kids loved it and whenever I got annoyed with a song, I was able to change the station! 

Bring a Couple Snacks

I totally understand if you don’t want your car getting dirty from wrappers, crumbs, and who knows what else so I listed some helpful products and snack items to avoid the mess. In all honesty though, sometimes kids need to eat right away after school. Who knows how much lunch they really ate and by the end of the school day and they might be exhausted. On days that I would bring snacks it would bring their moods way up! It would make the drive a lot easier for everyone.

Simple Trash Bucket

GoGo Squeez pouches

Veggie-Go’s    (These are much better than loosing fruit snacks all over the car!)

Organic Crunchin Grahams  (These may leave some crumbs but since they are pretty small the kids should be able to eat them in about two bites leaving less crumbs)

Annie’s Granola Bars (These produce just a little bit of crumbs but the chocolate can get melty so be sure to bring napkins!)

Bring new books

A book or a magazine is a great way to keep your kids busy as you are driving all over town. If you have time, stop by the library before pick up to grab a couple books for them to read or look at during the drive. This will allow for a more peaceful ride home.

Ask Silly Questions About Their Day

We all know the old “how was your day” question never really works. Try mixing it up with something like “Did you go down the slide on your tummy today?” or “Did your teacher call on you to answer a question?” These questions may end up with a no but it could lead them to saying what they actually did too. If they still don’t feel like talking then you can just have fun with the some silly questions. Like “Did you see any monkeys while playing on the monkey bars?

Bonus Tip: You can also do Two Truths and a Lie about their day. The kids absolutely loved it and I loved getting to hear about their day! They would tell me two true things that happened and one lie then I would guess which one they didn’t actually did. I would play along too! They would get to hear all about what me and baby bro did that day.


Tell a story or a joke

Before picking up the kids I would often make up some silly story in my head or research a couple jokes. They always thought they were so silly and enjoyed telling me their own! This would help the time in the car to be lighthearted and full of laughter instead of yelling.


Don’t be afraid to pull over

While I am driving I do not like to discipline. It can be very distracting to figure out who is bugging who while trying to focus on the road. One day after picking up the kids, one of them had slouched down into her seat in a way that was unsafe. I asked her multiple times to sit up, but she would not listen. So I pulled the car over, got out of my seat, and went to open her door. As soon as I opened her door she sat right up! I think it helped that their friends drove by so if I ever had to pull over they were VERY embarrassed. 


Your body tends to tense up while sitting in the pick up line. Especially when that dad thinks it’s okay to cut you off because you didn’t switch from park to drive fast enough… Just remember as you go into pick up that this will not be forever. Take time as you’re waiting for the kids to reflect on the quite alone time, little moments with your kids that you love, the silly giggles that is unique to each one, and each personality so different from the next. When you do this you will have a positive attitude when the kids enter the car instead of the dreading and frustration of all the traffic. Enjoy having them in the same car where they have to listen to you, be with you, and if we are lucky…share their hearts with you. 

I really hope these help you get through those lines with a little more grace and a lot less anger. 

What are some of your helpful hints for the pick up line? 


Tips for Surviving the Back-to-School Pick up Line (1)Tips for Surviving the Back-to-School Pick up Line

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