A new report looks at just how stressful it is for working parents to accommodate their kids' crazy transportation needs.
As a working mom of three kids who go to three different schools and are all involved in different activities, I was not at all surprised by a new survey that found most working parents live in a constant state of stress over getting their kids where they need to go.
In the State of Back to School Transportation report, commissioned by HopSkipDrive, a California-based ride service that helps parents get their kids from point A to point B, it's clear I'm not the only parent who struggles to be in two or even more places at once.
Using Google Consumer Surveys of more than 1,000 working parents with kids between the ages of 6 and 17, HopSkipDrive uncovered data that pretty much describes the daily reality of working parents like me:
• 40 percent say their regular work schedule is affected on at least a weekly basis because they must drive a child to school or an extracurricular activity.
• Nearly half admit their work schedule has prevented their child from participating in an after-school activity. This was about the same for men and women, interestingly.
• 44 percent of working parents spent a mind-boggling five hours or more per week driving kids to and from school and activities. That number is even higher for some parents, who confess their jobs have been put at risk to meet their child's transportation needs.
• 20 percent of parents say becoming a taxi service for their child is the worst part about back-to-school time.
• 35 percent of parents hilariously characterize their child's school and extracurricular transportation arrangements as being more stressful than filing their taxes!
Joanna McFarland, co-founder and chief executive officer of HopSkipDrive, said in a press release about the findings, "This survey validates what we hear from our customers and experience ourselves as working parents—that families often need to be in multiple places at the same time which puts tremendous stress on the entire family and forces both parents and children to make sacrifices."
Safe-Driving Rules For Moms
And even with help from babysitters, buses, and other family members, things don't always go according to plan. The survey also found that for 7 percent of parents, their carpool arrangement falls through at least once per week. And just a third of parents would call their child's current transportation situation somewhat dependable or not dependable at all.
Did I mention I'm pumped for my kids to go back to school in a few weeks? Look, it's definitely a grind. Each day I'm usually driving one of my girls to school late, or picking up someone early. Because each afternoon somebody has a play date, or a dentist's appointment, or swimming lessons, or ballet.
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My strategy: I try to manage our schedules one day at a time. If I wake up Monday morning and think about everywhere my kids need to be over the course of the upcoming week, I'll end up in a straight jacket. Another rule I live by is that it's okay to say "no" sometimes. I can't get my youngest to tumbling and also drop my oldest off at a friend's house. So the play date will have to happen another day. For the most part, my kids understand. We have a big family, and mommy's doing her best.
Ahem, a glass of wine at the end of the day also helps!
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.