If the rush of the school year hasn’t hit you yet, it probably will soon.
Getting the kids off to school can mean juggling calendars, schedules and sharing the car to make it to all the extracurricular activities that go along with the school year.
If you have teenagers in your household this can be particularly challenging. But sharing the family car can work with proper planning. Here are our tips for sharing the family car without adding any (more) stress.
Setting rules and expectations are the key to car sharing
Teachers have to set rules in their classrooms or everything would be complete chaos. The good news is that teens are used to this. Establish clear rules and the consequences for breaking them and you’ll save everyone aggravation and teach your teens responsibility. Here are a few to consider:
- Decide when the gas tank needs to be refilled – no one wants to be faced with an 11 mile drive and only 10 miles of gas in the tank
- Who is paying for the gas? Will you have a family credit card available? Is everyone expected to contribute equally?
- Are your teens expected to contribute to maintenance and insurance costs?
- What about extra passengers? Are your teens allowed to give a friend a ride?
- What are the consequences for getting a ticket, breaking curfew, breaking the rules?
Get out those calendars: Ready, set, sync
Scheduling may be the most difficult part of car sharing: Mom has a meeting, Chris has football practice and Jen is scheduled to work on the photos for the yearbook – and everyone needs to be there at 6:00pm! Here are some suggestions to make scheduling easier:
- Consolidate everyone’s calendars regularly–before people have to be somewhere
- When a conflict arises, talk things through–decide who can make schedule adjustments
- Open a family Uber account or set up carpooling with friends and neighbors as alternate transportation when the schedules overlap
- Download an App like Cozi or Google Calendar to coordinate schedules and keep everyone in the loop when those schedules change
Keep the car clean and well-prepped
When it’s your turn to drive the car the last thing you want is to get into a cluttered, smelly, trash filled vehicle. Enlist the help of the whole family to keep the car clean:
- Keep a plastic bag in the back seat for food and gum wrappers, Starbucks cups and other trash
- Keep a box or basket in the car or cargo space for books, mail, purchases, and more that can accumulate and make sure it is emptied out after every trip
- If you prefer to wash your car at home, keep a caddy filled with car washing supplies in your garage and set a car washing schedule with everyone taking a turn
- If you prefer to use a car wash service, decide on a schedule and keep cash handy in a car compartment to cover the fees
- If you’re the last to use something in the car such as wipes or tissues, replace them
- Regular maintenance is important too; being sure your car is in top shape will help keep everyone on schedule
Keep your family and your car safe on the road
Above all, keeping your family safe is a top priority. And when so many rely on it, keeping your car safe is a priority too. Knowing the rules of the road and investing in technology can pay off:
- Look for driver education information on your state’s DMV site or enroll in a driver’s education program if you or your teens need a refresher
- Set up Bluetooth, Siri eyes-free or other hands-free communication so that no one needs to text while driving and all phone calls are hands free
- Minimize distractions like eating, drinking and playing music loudly to keep the focus on the road
- If your car doesn’t have the latest safety technology like blind spot detection, collision control, and a back-up camera, look into aftermarket products that will provide these functions.
Emergencies Happen; Make Sure Everyone is Prepared
Flat tires, blown radiators, dead batteries…these are all possible and extremely frustrating. It’s important to have a plan in place to handle emergencies before they happen.
- Get a roadside assistance plan so that professional help is available for roadside emergencies and towing when needed (many new cars offer this as a standard feature)
- Update your insurance with rental car coverage to provide alternative transportation if the car is out of service for a few days
- Be sure to provide all drivers with a copy of the insurance card in case of an accident
- Keep a roadside emergency kit, phone charger and other important items in the car at all times
And if you think that the start of the school year is a hectic time for car sharing, just wait until the holidays! But good planning and successful car sharing habits can reduce holiday stress, too. What tips do you have for sharing a car with teens? Leave your ideas in the comment field below.