Manitoba

Make a plan B in case a bus doesn't arrive, parenting bloggers say

For busy parents, plan A is always to get the kids fed and on the bus for school. But sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Develop and practice a plan for 'every parent's absolute nightmare,' says parenting expert

Parenting bloggers say it's good for kids to have independence but it is also important to have alternative plans. (NSSBA)

For busy parents, plan A is always to get the kids fed and on the bus for school. But sometimes things don't go as planned, and that's why parents should prepare their kids and make a plan B, say two parenting bloggers.

Susie Erjavec Parker, who runs Winnipegmom.ca, says that's especially important when the temperatures drop.

"We are not doing our children any services or any help by making them feel helpless," Parker said.

"We need to empower them with education and information so that they always know how to be safe, take proper steps to protect themselves."

Izabella Roberts with her daughter, Tumia, who was left outside for nearly 2½ hours after her school bus failed to pick her up Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, a nine-year-old girl was left outside for hours when her school bus failed to pick her up, according to her mom. After CBC News reported the story on Wednesday, Parker said she was shocked to see negative backlash toward the mother online.

"I felt really bad for her mother because her mother was just doing her job," Parker said.

While all parents would like to be home to watch their kids get on the bus, the reality is that it's not possible for everyone, she said.

However, all parents need to create a backup plan with their children so they are "confident in their ability to problem-solve," she said.

"I think what's really helpful is children should know which neighbours are home during the day and could help them during an emergency," she said.

"And parents and the child should talk to any neighbours that are home and are able to assist in terms of emergency."

Parker also suggested role playing the scenario with children. If a bus doesn't show up, most children will likely try to get back into their home. Role playing allows parents and children to go through the next steps — find a hidden key, go to the neighbours' house or go to the nearest police station, for example.

"We need to empower them with education and information so that they always know how to be safe, take proper steps to protect themselves," she said.

'Every parent's absolute nightmare'

Karyn Pickles, a blogger and parenting expert, said her stomach sank when she heard about the Winnipeg girl.

"It's every parent's absolute nightmare," she said.

Pickles said she thinks it's understandable that a nine-year-old would be taking the bus on her own and was shocked to see the response online.

"There is a lot of parent shaming that happens online. Online communities can be a great place for parents and a terrible place," she said.

Pickles agreed that parents need to have a backup plan for missed buses.

"You might have a buddy system with another child, cell phone with limited minutes, a neighbour's house to go to, a hidden key," she suggested.

She also stressed the importance of rehearsing the plan.

"They don't have the maturity to necessarily come up with a plan when they are frightened and scared and cold," she said.

"When you are teaching your child independence and giving them this freedom it is very important to talk through the possible situations that could come [up]."