The School-to-Dinner Race to the Finish!


You sit in your car, slowly lifting your foot to release the brake just a bit, inch forward, and then depress the brake again.  Again. Again. Closer to the starting line.

Maybe you cherish the last few moments of quiet, mentally and physically preparing yourself for the race.  Maybe you spin in a flurry of phone calls and mental memos trying to use every second before the starting gun sounds.

Closer…closer…closer to the line.  You flip the sign that announces your name and the adrenaline pumps as your crew sprints to the car.  The door flings open and slams shut!


The school-to-dinner race to the finish of the day feels like the Indy 500.  We go around and around trying to stay steady while moving ever-faster and using all our energy not to spin out.

Here are some tips to keep you moving forward while staying in your lane:

  1. Keep a cooler with water bottles and snacks in the backseat.  Be sure to include things for the kids and adults – racing to dinner can make you hangry!
  2. Have a “go bag” that includes magazines, blank cards, Post-it notes, pens, puzzle books for kids, and a book for yourself.  This is the bag you take with you to kids’ practices or that you dig out when waiting on curbside delivery to come out to your car.  Write a note to a friend or make a list for the store.
  3. Prep on the weekend.  We have a family meeting on Sundays to discuss schedules for the week, fill bags with practice/game/dance/etc. clothes.  I’ve also been known to put a Post-It on the bags so I know which one goes which day.  Even better, use a big tote to keep them all in the trunk so you’re ready for the week!
  4. Use audiobooks! We listen to novels and other school materials in the car as we go to and from school.  If your child needs to memorize something, find a recording, a YouTube video, or record them saying it and play it in the car.
  5. Use screen time with caution.  I have learned that many popular games played on tablets, phones, and gaming devices do not have a PAUSE button (BTW: who came up with this crazy idea!!??).  This can cause quite the chaos when you’ve arrived at your destination, but your child doesn’t want to stop playing because they just earned 50 bajillion gold coins to buy the ….
    We use a simple reminder to play something that can be stopped and saved easily.
  6. Make a Family Jam playlist.  We take this opportunity to educate on “good music.”  This includes everything from ’80s country to ’90s rap to current worship songs and always includes Bohemian Rhapsody, because it’s a must-have car song!
  7. Ask good questions that start conversations.  “How was your day?” may result in a full play-by-play of their schedule or simply a thumbs-up.  Here’s a great list from Scholastic to get them talking.   

Keep your eyes on the road and your heart open to make the most of the time in the race!

How do you stay steady through the school-to-dinner race to the finish?

Share your tips in the comments below!