Here we are about to embark on week four of the new school year. During the six weeks holidays I had the usual comments from random members of the public who basically thought I looked like I was at the “near breakdown” end of the holidays: “Don’t worry they’ll be back soon” However in all honestly I had a great six weeks holidays and was dreading September coming around and them returning to school. Not because I didn’t need a break (because my God I did!) not because I enjoy the frequent snack demands, the relentless sibling wars and fights for attention… No, the reason I was dreading the arrival of the school year was simply this: I hate the school run.
For me the school run highlights my failings as an organised human. From start to finish I am a ball of negative harrassed energy who after the turmolous journey collapses against the door as I close it, shaking away the memory of yet another hellish morning. Thankfully it turns out I am not alone and there are many other parents out there who are equally as disorganised and dysfunctional when it comes to ridding ourselves of our children for the day. In this post I will talk through the step by step process of the school run and why each step is so painful.
Preparation is Key
One of the questions I asked on my Instagram polls I ran last week was “do you prepare the evening before?” By this I meant packed lunches, uniforms, reading folders etc. 64 per cent of my followers said they did however I am one of the 36 per cent that don’t. I spend my mornings frantically making packed lunches, searching for uniform, socks and odd plimsolls which can only resemble a game of the classic 90s children’s TV gameshow “Finders Keepers.” I have tried to the best of my ability to have things prepared the evening before but inevitably still fail due to other “school run” circumstances which will be explored further on in this post.
There was a time when putting uniform on in our house was the equivalent of a full body work out. My middle son in particular would fight within an inch of his life not to be dressed and then in an even more soul destroying act of defiance completely undress after I thought victory was mine. Now with 3 children under 7, my eldest is capable of dressing herself albeit with painstaking slowness but middle son who finds it difficult dressing (autism) and the Boss Baby at the wonderful age where clothing is something that he believes is unnecessary, the dressing is still a major pitfall of my school run. After the children are eventually dressed and eldests hair pulled into some kind of knot on the top of her head which I tell her is “trendy in London” to appease her we are ready to go and it’s then I realise I’m still in my pyjamas.
The Ten Minute Void
The kids are dressed, your dressed you’ve even had time to wash the breakfast bowls. You look at the clock and it’s twenty past 8, you have to leave at half past meaning you have ten minutes to relax. You use the time to check your phone, hang a few bits on the line or reply to that email that’s been left in your inbox. Suddenly you check your phone and it’s twenty to 8… Your late! Where did that ten minutes go? Why have you suddenly gone from “on time” to late? This is an unexplained phenomenon that no parent can explain but it happens regularly in my house on the school run!
You think you have everything, you’ve checked the 7 million emails from Parent Mail and are sure you only need:
P.E kits indoor and outdoor, Guitar for guitar lessons, wellies and waterproofs for outdoor learning, two reading books, spelling and homework books, recyclable items for the class project, a change of clothes for the theatre group coming in and one of your child’s show and tells. You load your children like mules with bags almost equal to their weight and carry any extras yourself and start your journey realising half way you forgot the packed lunch boxes. The sheer volume of “stuff” children need for school blows my mind especially as I think back to my own childhood in the 90s with my singular plastic reading folder with a coloured zip with a reading book inside!
Scooters and Bikes
The worst possible notion to take on earth is to let your children ride their scooter or bike to school. At present I only have experience with children under 7 and I mutter prayers regularly under my breath on the way to school, whilst balancing a discarded scooter under one arm and seven bags in the other, that one day my children will scoot in unity. Scooting and riding to school is a lovely idea until you realise your children have no real pace or skill in riding for a length of time such as to the school. The “half way rider” such as the Boss Baby ultimately means I’m left carrying yet another cumbersome item.
Be it via scooter, bike or walking my main problem with the school run is that my children move at different paces. Eldest may sprint ahead eager to leave her brothers trailing, Boss Baby has an erratic journey ranging from crawling to full on sprints to full on toddler tantrums stationary on the ground. Middle son does what the mood takes him with a mixture of sensory rolling on the grass and throwing handfuls of people’s gravelled driveways to a painfully excruciatingly slow walk. Anyone of these walking paces is hard work with just one child but with the combination of all three they can only equate to hell as I’m left running backwards, forwards and sideways to try and contain all three children safely.
I received many messages on my Instagram to my question “what makes you fail the school run?” and the most popular answer was… Other parents. Thankfully I’m always so late I rarely gain much interaction from the School Gate Mafia. However what I do enjoy most when I am slightly early is the look of fear when the other parents see me coming. They frantically pull their phones out to check the time…. Are they late? Surely they must be late if that dishevelled looking parent is here at the same time as them? I see their minds boggle and panic as they behold me and my tribe “on time” in the playground waiting for the doors to open.
Once the children are through the doors it’s time for myself and Boss Baby to repeat the walk back. Already exhausted before the day has started he usually at this point demands “up” because prams are beneath him and he is sad because his brother and sister “forgot him.” So for the remainder of the journey back I am left carrying and 2 stone baby on my hip while he recooperates his energy for the day ahead and I count down the minutes to nap time!
Any school run tips are greatly welcome in the comments below.