New routine

The Road


It’s a new school year and to make things a bit more interesting we’ve changed the routine. Oh yes. It just wasn’t hard enough having four kids in two different schools and doing more than one job. Since I can’t be the CEO of something important, even if I wanted to be, I have decided that I need to challenge myself in other ways. In the interests of family finances we have ditched the school bus and gone for taking the two older kids to school ourselves.

The slight problem is that both the primary and the secondary school finish at exactly the same time and the primary school has only about two after school clubs for only son’s age group. One is karate which he doesn’t want to do. I told a neighbour that the only remaining one is dance. “I guess he won’t want to do that because he’s a boy,” she said. She has been saying this kind of thing since before he was born despite the fact that for much of his early years he was dressed as Cinderella. Actually, he was all up for dance club, but his sister doesn’t want to do it and that means it makes absolutely no difference if he does it or not because I will still have to be at primary school at 3.30 to pick her up. The club she ticked was philosophy for children, but it’s run in the lunch hour.

The older ones can go to study club, but it lasts an hour and a half, which means I would have to go home first and then go out again and pick them up when the primary school is en route to the secondary one. Therefore the best bet is for them to hang around after school until I pick them up. The route to secondary school is what you might call winding. It involves lots of trees, lots of birds sitting in the road [why?] and tractors. On a good day with a fair wind behind the sails and no tractors in immediate view, I’ve got it down to 18 minutes. I call this my lunch break. Winter may prove a step too far, but autumn term is the most expensive one for the bus.

Things have been going ok and the drive is fairly entertaining. This is because I invested in another copy of the first One Direction album after the original got so scratched that only son thought that the song actually went b-b-b-baby y-ou-u-u light u–u-up my li-i-i-fe. We can now listen to each song in full without having to fast forward and skip Up all night, a particular favourite among our household. Also, driving with four children is fairly, what the psychologists might call, “bonding”. They can’t escape, except by plugging themselves into various devices, and so are forced to tell me about their day and, even if they plug themselves in, I manage to interrupt them regularly if they are within poking distance – much to daughter one’s annoyance.

Daughter one, when she is in the mood for talking, is fairly hilarious in an ironic sort of way. She gives a running commentary on her teachers and several references to 80’s bands and Birmingham [land of Duran Duran]. Only son pipes up from the back with some interesting fact about trigger fish or some huge jellyfish that he’s learned about on Octonauts. Daughter three attempts to get me to stop at the co-op every single day and daughter two reads a book which is not the Argos catalogue and practises her Spanish vocabulary. She appears to have turned over a new leaf for Year 8 just as she did for her maths SATs. Daughter two is really quite together. She can cook to Masterchef standards, is a home design expert after years of 60-minute makeover and has a really good grasp of the Australian customs system, as well as the Australian accent due to Border Security: Australia’s frontline. She can also make all her own clothes and do very accomplished handstands. Somewhere out there there must be a job that combines all these skills…

I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to keep this new routine up, but so far it’s nice to have an enforced break in the working day, even if it involves some extra nightworking. However, there is a slight fly in the ointment already. I’ve just noticed a sign on a crucial road saying it is being resurfaced until mid-October…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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