Uber for kids

by Louise

Uber Says No Kids—These Other Car Services Say Yes
Harried parents who turn to ride-hailing services to solve child-chauffeuring dilemmas may be defying company age restrictions

The schedule. Rides for kids and seniors. Other scheduling issues.


64 thoughts on “Uber for kids

  1. The driving issue is tough. Our oldest plays basketball, and we got an e-mail from school detailing the summer work out schedule. It’s insane. The entire month of June is filled with things like:
    MWF 8am – 10am weight conditioning
    M-F 3pm – 6pm team practice
    Random dates throughout June: 12noon scrimmage against XYZ school.

    We’ll be able to make it work, because I have the world’s most flexible work schedule and my parents can help, but how working parents that have to be in an office (or courtroom or hospital or traveling) will make it work, I have no idea.

  2. That sort of summer schedule used to be prohibited by the athletic association of our public school system. Nothing official or mandated until August 15th. We used to meet in the mornings to run a few miles. The coach stressed that it was not required, he was not organizing it, and he often was not there.

    But a private school, or league, can do whatever it wants, I suppose. And they probably figure if you’re paying tuition, you have the resources to arrange a ride.

  3. Lark – a schedule like that assumes someone is available during the day to do drop/off pick up or carpooling is an option. For older kids who are not yet driving Uber and the like comes in.
    I have some weeks in the summer where there is an early afternoon pickup, I just have to make it work. My kids couldn’t do many camps other than the Y, because the schedule was an issue.

  4. We are covered by the Georgia High School Association rules – no distinction for private vs. public. I think the only real limits are dead week (week of July 4 – no workouts or practices are allowed to be held). Workouts can be all summer long, but mandatory practices are only allowed a certain number of weeks before the first game of the season. So the practices I listed above are not ‘mandatory.’ (Insert eye roll. Of course they are, at least for the high schoolers.)

  5. Also, they gave us this schedule in April, and said “we’re giving it to you early so you have time to plan your summer vacations around it.”

    I do not think they know what “early” means.

  6. This summer we are letting the kids take public transportation (together) from a camp or they can walk. The camp is 9 am- noon. We can get them there but not back. This involves getting them (or at least one of them – separate story) a phone and bus/subway passes. I plan on working from home the first day or so to see how it goes.

    Otherwise, they could not attend this camp. DS2 has been very disappointed that he couldn’t join afterschool baseball and basketball programs because we have no way of getting him there and back and he was (is) too young to take public transportation by himself.

    I would not stick my kids in a Uber, black car service, taxi, Lyft, etc. by themselves.

  7. We have a pick up issue in July. Both boys’ programs end at the exact same time. One gets dropped off at the house somewhere between 15 min and a half hour later (most likely), and the other needs to be picked up. Currently we have 2 options (1) mom picks up the one kid 15 minutes early, and she’ll be home in time for the other drop off or (2) DH and I coordinate where we take our lunch time to pick up the one kid and drop him at home while mom waits for the other. The going option is #1 because it’s not always easy for DH and I to coordinate our days like that. Good thing this mess will only occur in July.

    Off Topic, I have an IEP meeting this afternoon for DS1. I’m not anticipating any push back from the school, but these meetings always make me nervous. I’m never sure what I’m going to hear about my kid, and I never know who will be there (even though we asked for the whole team since they weren’t there in Jan when we did our review). Added to my stress is that DH and I haven’t talked at all about this meeting together. I like to be on the same page with him and we aren’t.

  8. My nephew has been taking Uber for the past year since he was 14. He lives in a big city. My SIL is home but I think Uber is easier given how long it takes her, the parking situation etc.
    It’s a little different where we are. Here, getting the kids to drive as soon as eligible is a parental to do. By end of senior year they are tasked with sibling drop off/pick up.

  9. Good luck with the IEP meeting. Does your district allow other parents to sit in the meeting? For example, parents that have older kids hat have already gone through this process in your district? I know that several parents in our community have found this to me very helpful.

    I am not a fan of using Uber for teens. Some teens are probably street smart or savvy enough to know if the Uber driver is ok, but I’ve been in plenty of Ubers with a so-so driver. Their driving skills were just ok, or they were distracted by stuff on their phone. Also, what if the Uber driver is a creep? Would kid be able to sniff that out? I know it is a risk even for adults, but adults might have a better sense of a wrong turn, or wrong street etc.

    I also don’t think it is fair to the Uber drivers to have to drive a bunch of drunk/loud teens around for late nights. They’re under age and these kids tend to throw up more than some adults since they’re inexperienced drinkers.

  10. Rhode, good luck. It’s good to hear you’re not expecting pushback, but your concern is understandable.

  11. I am hoping that DD decides to do the music camp this year instead of the arts camp because she can walk home from the music camp. It is about a mile and a half away. My oldest went to this music camp several summers and always walked.

  12. My oldest has had to use Uber all spring, to go pretty far to a site where he is doing tutoring for middle school kids. It is part of his mandated service hours for the honors program. It is a good placement for him because he has so much experience teaching programming to middle schoolers already, but I wish he had gotten a placement in his college city instead of another town.

  13. It is part of his mandated service hours for the honors program.

    I like how honors students and prisoners have the same requirements.

  14. RMS – my DD says that some teachers don’t want kids to do their quarterly service hours at the same place. The want the kids to go to different places. I planned to fight that. I have a charity we volunteer at that takes younger kids and we have gotten used to going there, know their system, staff etc. We have filled in the required form. I am not amused at having to fill forms at multiple places if we have to go different places.

  15. Yeah, DS has missed out on a number of sports and music camps because they are something like 9-1, and anywhere from 5 to 20 miles away (I particularly like the “advanced” music camp he was invited to this summer, which was literally on the exact opposite side of the city, and went from something like 9-4, so I could have the privilege of getting in late, leaving early, and getting stuck in horrendous traffic every time. Yeah, no thanks. For better or worse, my kids either get camps with bus service or camps that they can walk to. Speaking of, if DD can’t find a real job, I am going to hire her to do the camp bus runs, because BOY will my day be lovely without having to worry about that.

    Oh, and speaking of off-topic kid things: I busted DS last night for taking money from my wallet. It’s happened a few times, but there was always some plausible deniability (well, maybe I spent that extra $6 on something I forgot about; maybe someone else took it; etc.). But yesterday I had literally just counted my money for something DD needed, and two hours later it was gone, and he was the only one anywhere near my purse. So his world ended last night — not only did he take the money, he lied to me about it, and only ‘fessed up when I imposed consequences (suggesting that he could pay me back instead; I informed him it was an “and,” not an “or”).

    So he is pouting and sulking and *completely* ignoring me — stormed up to his room last night as soon as I grounded him, and came down this morning just in time to leave for school, without acknowledging me at all. DD and I both burst out laughing the second the door shut behind him. Partly because it’s sort of the first typical teen behavior I’ve seen from him, but mostly because he thinks he’s so cool and “showing” me, with no clue how transparent and powerless he is. I’m going to have to work to get the smile off my face before he gets home, so I can be that dispassionate authority figure again.

    Anyway, I realized today that this is the first time I can remember actually punishing the kid with something significant in years, because he’s just generally so mellow and a good kid, and we give the kids a lot of leeway to do their own thing as long as the stuff they need to do is taken care of. So now he gets to learn that the price of that freedom and independence is that he needs to maintain our trust; blow that trust, and all those privileges go away until you earn the trust back.

  16. LfB said ” I busted DS last night for taking money from my wallet. It’s happened a few times, but there was always some plausible deniability (well, maybe I spent that extra $6 on something I forgot about; maybe someone else took it; etc.). But yesterday I had literally just counted my money for something DD needed, and two hours later it was gone, and he was the only one anywhere near my purse. ”

    We had the same issue recently. DD was playing these online games on her phone, and wanted to buy the crap they push at the kids. I had turned that ability off on as many games as I could find but I missed one. It may have been Minecraft in fact. She spent all of her birthday gift cards in one night on game crap, and then took my credit card and debit card out of my purse. Somehow she figured out how to use Google Pay. What she didn’t realize is that I would get notified before the purchases went through.

    Bam. Her data plan on the phone has been blocked and all games removed. This was actually about 2 months ago, and you wanna know the best part? Her grades have gone up dramatically since we cut off the phone data. I am in no hurry to turn it back on.

  17. Yeah, DS has missed out on a number of sports and music camps because they are something like 9-1, and anywhere from 5 to 20 miles away

    That drove us bonkers as well. They have all these great camps that are set up for WAH parents who can drive the kids back and forth at odd hours.

  18. Yeah – 9.00 am to 1 pm camps – bane of my existence ! It’s not the whole summer, but still…

  19. @MM — the thing I feel bad about is that by grounding him, I am keeping him from running around the neighborhood with his friends, which is just so much better than sitting on his ass in front of the computer or TV.* But I think it’s the running-around-with-friends thing that is part of the issue here, i.e., he wants money in his pocket for ice cream and such, and frankly his behavior has gone downhill since he started hanging out with these kids (I think the kids are good kids — I just think that the collective IQ of teenage boys is inversely correlated to the number of boys in the group). But more to the point, the underlying issue is helping him make the connection that he gets the freedom to run around for hours after school only because I trust him to be a mature, reasonable human being and behave appropriately (i.e., limit the stupid involved to standard-13-yr-old-boy stuff). Ergo, forfeit the trust, welcome back to adult supervision.

    *Which is also why I removed his electronic access at the same time — don’t want to replace one fun thing with another worse one.

  20. My oldest is annoyed that her summer is basically the same summer camps she has been going since Pre-k. But the all day school camps and the Y are the only ones that work for working parents. All the other amazing camp options (Stem camp, art camp, theatre camp, etc) are the 9-11:30 or 1-3:30 M-TH. This summer she is doing a 2 week long intro to band camp the school puts on. But it is from 9:30-10:45 M-Th. So that has become a logistics nightmare.

  21. Meeting went well. The teacher calls us her favorite family and I think she truly means it. It’s nice to be on the same team. They are supportive of the neuro psych evaluation we have scheduled and of meeting again in the fall to asses (1) how full day pre K is going and (2) meet and discuss the new teacher’s goals. They understand that DS1 is academically gifted yet has social and attention issues. It’s wonderful that they *get* him.

    I need to get the teacher a nice retirement gift. Any suggestions?

  22. Did you guys see that Uber just rolled out a feature that allows people to request “quiet” rides? You can request no chatting with the driver if you’re willing to pay up for Uber black vs uber X.

    This camp thing that many of you are dealing with sounds like a real headache. I wonder why some regions of the country have the private day camp option with buses vs. these mini camps that require driver. 4- 8 week day camps with bus transportation were an option when I was a kid, and that was over 40 years ago when it wasn’t as common to have 2 working parents. There are still plenty of camps like this all over the NY metro area. Kids are picked up around 7:45-8:15 and they get back around 4:30 – 5:30 depending on distance from the camp. These are private camps, but some are subsidized because they’re run by the Y or other non profits. oOur town camps are run by the school or town recreation. They don’t provide busing, but it is still six weeks and the hours are 8:30 – 3:30/4.

  23. “I need to get the teacher a nice retirement gift. Any suggestions?”

    Handwritten note of thanks, and a gift card to Target or Amazon. : )

  24. You have to pay for them to keep their mouth shut? I normally like to chat, but if I didn’t, couldn’t I just tell the UberX driver that I’d prefer it quiet, thank you?

    Are people that spineless?

  25. Lauren, the camps with the busing are mostly the sports camps and the outdoorsy camps. The camps my kids wanted to go to did not have busing :-(

  26. Probably because working parents has been the norm here for a long time, most summer programs here have schedules or options that lend themselves well to working parents.

    Unlike most regulars here, we sent our kids to summer school. While classes at our kids’ school ran 8 to 12, there was supervision before that for the very young kids, and older kids were allowed on campus unsupervised before 8.

    There was a supervised option from the 12 to 5:30, as well as what amounted to after school programs on steroids. We had options for all sorts of things like lessons for swimming, tennis, dance, music, martial arts, etc, and time for kids to take more than one of these.

  27. Finn – summer school is not an option here that I have heard of. My nephew who goes to an independent private school in another state has summer school that runs a few weeks. But nothing after that.
    My nephew and niece in the UK have a comprehensive summer program like you describe that caters well to two working parents.

  28. I take back everything I wrote this morning. We had a last-minute parent meeting today with the b’ball head coach (he called it). He said he thinks kids need to have the opportunity to work, and he is moving all workouts/scrimmages/practices to 7am, ending by 9am most days, in order to accommodate that. Said he hopes it will also help working parents and their schedules. There will be some rare during-the-day scrimmages with other schools and kids who miss them due to work schedules won’t be penalized. !!!! I felt like the world just tilted the slightest bit back towards sanity.

  29. Lauren, the northeast seems to have a much different attitude towards camps than other parts of the country. I worked at one of those day camps when I was in college and the kids all came in on buses every day. I’ve never seen anything like that here.

    And going to sleep away camp for four or eight weeks is unheard of here. A few years back, a friend who lives in your area posted on facebook that she was thrilled to find a “short” camp for her son that was only two weeks. Two weeks is considered long here, most sleepaway camps are for a week. I’ve seen a few that advertised two weeks, and nothing longer than that.

  30. “And going to sleep away camp for four or eight weeks is unheard of here.”

    Same here. BITD, the Boy Scouts were one of the few groups that had sleep away summer camps, and those were a week long– arrive on Sunday afternoon, leave on Saturday morning.

    One of DS’ close friends moved here from the continent in middle school, and was surprised that no one else in their group even thought about sleep away camps.

  31. “they worked if you knew how to apply proper percussive maintenance”


    IOW, hit them in the right spots?

  32. DS is going to take a Community College US history class this summer. He just turned 16, and still needs to get his driver’s permit, so he will be taking the bus to class. In scouts there is the concept of being boy-led, i.e., adults only step in for matters of health & safety (and driving & paying camp fees). I’m currently taking a boy-led approach to getting his permit. I know that it will produce a better outcome if he does it at his own pace, and I’ll miss the good conversations that we’ve had on some of our drives, but it will definitely be more convenient when he is able to get himself to a majority of his activities. Some of his meetings are 2+ hours away in LA, and I anticipate that we will still be in the car with him for those even if he gets to do the driving.

  33. SBJ – my middle kid is taking a college course in Economics this summer at a nearby college. He can take the commuter train, so it should be pretty easy. One thing we discovered – he couldn’t take a summer course at the local community college because their sessions don’t line up with our school district!!! Their first session runs May-June, when the high schoolers are still in school, and the second session starts during the last week of high school. Since there are still finals scheduled that week, he can’t blow off the week.

    The good news is that the summer course is mornings, 3 days a week, so there is space for him to get a PT job. He just finished his AP tests, so I told him he has to get his rear out there and look for a job

  34. DD, although I live in the Northeast, I am not from the Northeast, so the sleepaway camps seem very foreign to me too. The honest truth is that not that many kids in our town do them. The only one I know in my kids friend circle that does it goes to a Unitarian service camp, which isn’t your really traditional sleepaway camp. Non eof my daughter’s friends did sleepaway last summer – I should ask her if any are doing it this year.

    Only some day camps here do the bus thing. The arts and music camps that my kids always go to do not have buses. Neither does the tech camp where my oldest work – though they do have a dorm option – but the majority of the kids commute. Their hours are crazy – the pickup is at 9pm in the evening!!!

  35. The day camp our kids go to locally have extended day so you can drop off at 7 and pick up at 6 if you need to, otherwise it’s 9-3 – but it’s more expensive than the other local camps that are 9-1. This year #1 and #2 are both going to 4H camp to sleep over. It’s a week at a time so you drop off on Sunday night and pick up on Friday night. All of the specialty camps (sports, music, etc) come out with their schedules later than the camps that our kids do so they haven’t gone to any of those yet.

  36. Oh – and the 4H camp does have a bus option for day camp. Like magic, they pick up at 8 and drop back off at 5:30!

  37. I would have loved a bus pick up and drop off for my kids. I have done the Y pick up/drop off and so do many other parents. I don’t know why the Y’s don’t offer buses. But the Y’s here are huge and offer so many things, maybe that’s a bit much to expect. My kids can definitely find jobs as Y counselors if nothing else pans out. The best part for them would be choosing a fake name by which counselors are known.

  38. ““This property is an ideal spot to raise a family,” says Jack Ryan, CEO of REX Real Estate. “The current owners raised four amazing sons, so the house is filled with good karma. It’s location, proximity to neighbors (or lack thereof), and installed security equipment in and around the property make it an ideal escape for business people in the public eye.””

    For $100M it better have good karma.

  39. Louise, the Y camp my kids used to go to when little also did not have busing, but you could drop at 8 and pick up at 6. It was cheap too. But it wasn’t that great once the kids hit 8 or so.

  40. MM: Our local CC’s first summer session overlaps with the last 3 weeks of high school. Some high school students will still do it, especially if they are able to get into an online course. Those tend to fill the quickest. There was a noticeable reduction in the number of kids arriving at high school at the normal time the morning the CC summer session enrollment opened. DS’s course is during the second session.

  41. Mooshi – the Y here is good till around 7th grade. They offer camps like cooking, photography and they also take the older kids on day trips involving hiking, tubing, paddle boarding so those were good.

  42. Sleep away camps are huge, huge in the Southeast, too. There are a ton of them. Our kids have gone from age 7. Oldest doesn’t go any more, but youngest does.

  43. I spent 1 month every summer at sleepaway camp and loved it. The camp has a cult-like following as do many others in the state. It was a great experience that taught me how to be a good roommate in college and young adulthood. I’m still in touch with most of my cabin to this day….we have reunions (I missed the one this year). Looking back, it was probably great for all of the parents, too, as they could take a kid-less vacation themselves. I know at least a few moms had some work done during those summers.

  44. Our Y does busing for day camps with stops around town. Unfortunately the bus stop times are not convenient. Then there is the bus stop at the Y itself that will take them to the day camp. The before/after care was fine when the kids were smaller, but the last few years it was so chaotic and disorganized my kids hated it. In the past they could use the gym, the dance studio, the art room, but that changed and instead they got stuck in one room and could play board games or make bracelets, and the staff wasn’t the normal counselors so the kids were misbehaving.

    Sleep away camps are popular here too. DD1 has been going since she was 7. DD2 doesn’t have any interest in going.

    And Lark, I had to laugh about the “early” planning in April. I had all summer camps booked since January. The sleepaway camp was booked in December.

  45. ” I know at least a few moms had some work done during those summers.”

    I read that as “got some work done” – as in they could focus on their work or a home renovation project. Then it dawned on me that the poster was talking about plastic surgery. Ha! My blue collar roots are showing.

  46. The Jewish camps in our area tend to be 8-weeks, while the Christian, scouting, or sports camps tend to be a week. DS has no interest. DH never went as a kid, but I went every year to a vaguely Lutheran (ELCA) camp and loved it! (Most of our counselors didn’t bother with Bible lessons, but we sang some Christian songs around the campfires.)

    Day camps are so exhausting. DS is at the age where he is rebelling against going to the little-kid camp at his school, but the middle-school camps are expensive, inconvenient, and short. So we are patching together school camp (which is packed with the younger elementary kids), a few camps, vacations, WFH days, days off, and letting him stay home alone for at least half days. I’ve also got backup care through work that I can call on in a pinch. (nanny service essentially – but he’s not thrilled about that option) Next summer as a rising 7th grader, his camp options go to almost zero, but I’m iffy about a 12 year old spending the entire summer home alone. So we will see what we can work out.

    @Kerri – You’d rather have them take public transit than Uber? I wonder if that’s an unusual take. Although, I can see it – DS is very comfortable with public transit as he’s been riding his whole life and they take it for some of their school field trips too.

  47. IME 6-8-week sleepaway camp is part of a certain mindset/lifestyle. Most of my kids’ Jewish friends went and it was a traditional thing. And then there are the hoity toity camps which seem to be more of the horse and sailing set. My D attended a 2-week dance intensive camp at a location in MA where they boarded horses for the girls. These long-term summer camps are similar to boarding school in a way. Some parents are horrified at the thought of having their kids away for 8 weeks in the summer or during the entire school year. For other parents it’s what they’re used to and they see the benefits.

    In hindsight I realize most of my kids’ activities were based on transportation. I rarely committed to any activity that required weekly or daily driving to locations more than about 15 minutes away.

  48. Ivy – Yes! Would you stick your kid in a cab by himself? I wouldn’t. I trust in the safety – and behavioral norms – of the crowd. Plus, if something goes wrong there are more resources available to help.

  49. Ivy – DS also hates camps. So we started doing Camp Nothing* last year when he was 12 (had just finished 7th grade). Camp Nothing – so cheap! so convenient! hours are so flexible!

    This year, DS will be taking a full year of geometry over the summer so that will keep him busy. This is totally at his request – he’s currently one year ahead in math but most of his friends are two years ahead and he wants to catch up. In the grand scheme of things I think it makes zero difference – but I figure it gives him something to do besides watching car videos on youtube.

    *Camp Nothing – DS stays home by himself.

  50. Kerri – both my kids started taking public transport in middle school. I agree with you that it feels safer to me – there are always people around.

  51. Seattle – My kids go to that camp! They’re taking two weeks of tennis lessons and visiting family, but the rest of the summer is Camp Nothing.

  52. @Kerri – I get it. I think that I agree – depending on the situation, the distance and route walked on the ends, the time of day, etc. I’m intrigued by the Uber for Kids, but I’m not sure I would pay the premium over walking/CTA/biking unless it was at night, which isn’t usually when we have a transportation issue. We are also not far away from him taking public transportation

    Well, we are giving Camp Nothing a try for some days this summer, so we’ll see how everyone likes it. :)

  53. I definitely would prefer my kids take public transit over Uber or our weird clunky suburban cabs! My oldest has been using Uber once a week for his volunteer tutoring gig at college, and it really worries me, whereas my middle kid took the train and subway last summer for his program in Manhattan and will take the train this summer for his summer course, and that does not concern me at all. I wouldn’t put my 12 year old on either alone right now, but that is more because she is flaky and untrustworthy. I do plan to have her walk, though, if she does the music camp.

  54. I work from home in the summer, so I want the kids out of my hair. If they are at home, they wold be bugging me all the time.

  55. “he’s currently one year ahead in math but most of his friends are two years ahead and he wants to catch up. In the grand scheme of things I think it makes zero difference”

    I beg to differ… This helps keep him with a peer group that values math, and will likely keep him on the calculus track.

    Two (totebag values) in one.

  56. DD did Camp Nothing for much of last summer. She thought she had a job lined up as a summer school TA, but that vaporized when the incumbent TA didn’t get the internship she thought she’d get. DD then tried applying for some jobs at local malls, but got discouraged after going to several and being told that they only hire 18yo and older. DW asked at a couple stores too and heard the same thing.

    She did volunteer at the zoo day camp for a couple of weeks, where she got some language practice with young campers who only spoke Korean. She spent a lot of her summer getting better at Korean, aka watching a lot of K-dramas.

    This summer she’s got a confirmed job as a science TA; I think it’s for chemistry. That’s considered a faculty position in that she’s eligible for on-campus parking, so she’ll probably drive herself to work, although I want her to look for carpool partner(s).

    Any ideas for incentives for DD to carpool? I’m thinking of cash, e.g., one day’s gas cost or bus fare for every day she doesn’t drive.

  57. WRT early planning for summer— I just got an email from DD’s BFF’s mom, asking about our plans for summer 2020. She’s trying set a date for a grad party.

  58. Finn – it’s early to plan a grad party but then time flies. I was shocked to find that my friends son has graduated college already. I feel it was just yesterday that I saw his prom pictures.

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