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Carpool Calculus

How to get 12 kids from seven schools to one event

by Joan  |  1833 views  |  1 comment  |      Rate this now! 

Some may scoff, but arranging carpools is where us suburban moms get to show off our brilliant analytical skills, as well as any latent OCD tendencies. Show me a corporate soldier who can demonstrate quick command and control of a problem like this and I'll show you someone who's making a few hundred grand a year.

Problem: Get 12 kids dismissed early from seven schools spread across several suburbs to one field trip when not all of the parents can drive because they are busy working. Specifically, find rides for the last two kids without rides, when their schools are not near any of the other drivers who have room; make use of your sitter but make sure she doesn't work overtime; shuffle car seats as called for; try not to lose anyone; avoid rush hour and try to get out of driving the carpool home.

Solution: Below. This is a real email that I sent out today. I've removed the names, which believe it or not, makes it much easier to understand, since each letter stands for a group of parent, child and school.

Hi all,

I struck out trying to get rides for Child A and Child B from two other moms. However, Dad C has room in his van -- but he's leaving from School C. Here is my proposed solution: We get Child A and Child B to School C so Dad C can drive them to (and possibly back home from) the field trip.

Details: 1. Mom A pays my sitter to pick up Child A in my sitter’s car, from School A at 12:30. 2. My sitter brings Child A to School C by 1 p.m and turns Child A over to my care. 3. Meanwhile, I pick up my son at noon and get Child B from School B at 12:15 (Mom B: instructions on how to do this?) I drive my son and Child B home for lunch, then to School C at 1pm. 4. At School C, Dad C loads his daughter Child C, plus Child B and Child A, into his van. (I have two booster seats Child A and Child B can use, so I will need Mom D to bring her booster for Child D to use in my car). Dad C drives 3 kids. 5. At School C, I load my daughter, my son, Mom D and Child D into my wagon – so I’m driving 3 kids. My sitter will ride along but is no longer in charge of Child A. (Dad C? Can my sitter ride with you on the way over? If not she can squish into the front seat of my wagon).

About the Author

See my blog, MothersOnTheBrink.com

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