With three girls in two different schools plus various sports and activities, I spend a lot of time in the car. I end up waiting in the carpool line, sitting in my car during a short practice or waiting for whatever activity to finish up so I can get my kids and move on with real life.
Even when it’s just a few minutes at a time, it adds up to at least an hour each week. Sometimes, it can be almost an hour a day! Any time the girls have something to do right after school, I get in the carpool line early so I can be first.
Sure, I’m waiting a little while, but I get out of the parking lot sooner so we can be on time. I know we’re all way too busy to hang around in the car for hours, which is why I find things to do while I wait. It’s a good way to balance everything I have to do, and it allows me to be productive with otherwise wasted time.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do with a few minutes in the car:
When I know I could be waiting awhile, I bring a book. It’s nice to have some down time just for me, even if I am at soccer or the girls’ school. Since I don’t always know if that will happen, I like to keep a few magazines between the seats. I can scan a few pages as the girls make their way to the car.
2. Clip coupons
I keep a pair of scissors right in my coupon binder so everything I need for couponing stays together. I can cut coupons when I have a few minutes, wherever I am.
3. Make a grocery list
Sitting down with a pen and paper (or my iPhone Errands app), I can put together a grocery list anywhere. Going in with a list the next time I shop helps make the grocery trip more productive, too.
4. Play your menu
All I need to plan the week’s meals is my calendar — it allows me to plan quick meals for busy evenings and avoid the drive-thru. This is my favorite Monday carpool activity so I can start the week with a plan.
5. Clean the car
I keep a duster and bags in the glovebox so I can do a quick cleanup of the car while I’m already there.
6. Prioritize your to-do list
Here’s another easy thing to jot down while I wait. A quick look at my to-do list can even help me figure out what I can fit in the next time I wait.
7. Take a nap
On the surface, this is not very productive, but I am completely convinced that a quick nap every day helps me focus and get more done when I’m awake. Lean the seat back and take a nap. I promise the kids will wake you when they’re ready to leave.
8. Sort the mail
I usually grab the mail on my way out of the driveway. I can do a quick sort while I’m in the car, and the junk mail pile often kickstarts that whole “clean car” idea.
9. Take care of you
I keep a nail file and pair of tweezers in the car. It’s one of those things I notice more when I’m sitting around doing nothing, and it only takes a few minutes to shape my nails or pluck a few stray hairs.
10. Clean out your purse
My purse is basically a black hole for receipts, coupons, and chapstick. Waiting in the car is practically the only time I remember to sort through it all.