Back on the road again



Argggg. The return to school…it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s space and peace during the day; on the other there is the whole switch back to life at full pelt, even though we prepared – sort of.

Everyone had clothes and packed lunches and went to bed earlier than in the holidays. Daughter two bamboozled us all with algebra homework and only son and I played several rounds of Top Trumps Sharks and Uno. Daughter three realised at the last minute that she has outgrown her PE shoes, but we’re on the case.

Only son went back under protest on Tuesday. Daughter two went in at 1.15pm on Wednesday, but arrived 10 minutes late due to roadworks. So far so good.

By Thursday, though, the whole team was back and things began to go slightly wrong. Daughter three was feeling very nervous about her new school. Only son was bouncing on the sofa, holding the kittens.

Daughter two mentioned in passing that she had a drama workshop after school which she didn’t know the exact timing for. “I’ll text you at lunchtime, mum”, she said as she left. Daughter two rarely has her phone on. The likelihood of her remembering to text and then receiving any follow-up message was low.

I completely mistimed the whole Thursday morning thing as my brain is not yet in gear and we only got on the road at 8.30. School opens at 8.45. The day before there had been tailbacks due to roadworks. Miraculously, the roadworks had disappeared and we got there with one minute to spare.

I set off for only son’s school. The road to it had been closed for a burst water pipe the day before which means doing a circuitous country route, past another temporary traffic lights for roadworks. Do they purposefully start roadworks in the first week of term? I decided the direct route would still be closed [it often is] so I went for the circuitous route. “Road closed” it said.

Surely this was just an advance warning about the other road closure? Other cars were going past so I followed, but no, it was actually closed. We all turned around. “There may be no way of actually getting you to school,” I told only son. “That’s fine, mum. You can home-school me like daughter three,” he replied. He associates homeschooling with McDonald’s as daughter three once had a chicken legend burger during her homeschooling term.

I tried another route which meant looping around several fields. I took a wrong turning. “I think we are headed back to the closed road, mum,” offered only son. “Think of it as one huge adventure,” I said. “One day we may find the school.”

And we did eventually. Daughter one had an interview for a temp agency later in the day. We were up till late the night before trying to find her NI number. It feels as if we are only ever one half step ahead of the deluge.

Today I am starting the day with an early drop-off at breakfast club, followed by a dash up the motorway for an hour and a 20-minute sprint to meet someone for a 40-minute interview then a 20-minute sprint to another office for two more meetings followed by more meetings. I may not make it to the weekend.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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