The Workingmums’ Guide to Doing the School Run

It’s one of the scourges of any parent’s life: the morning school run. It can make or break the strongest of people. Attending any high-level meeting has nothing on corralling small people through breakfast, into uniforms and out of the door on time. Most parents arrive at work feeling they have already done a day’s work so are there any ways to cut down on the stress? Workingmums has some tips.

It’s one of the scourges of any parent’s life: the morning school run. It can make or break the strongest of people. Attending any high-level meeting has nothing on corralling small people through breakfast, into uniforms and out of the door on time. Most parents arrive at work feeling they have already done a day’s work so are there any ways to cut down on the stress? Workingmums has some tips:

1. Get up early, but don’t get up too early because 1) you will not make it through the working day awake and 2) if you get the children up early it will only give them time to create havoc, take off their school uniforms and paint themselves blue or change into swimsuits and dive into the bath. The important thing is to figure out the optimum time needed to get them ready and to ensure that you don’t let them have one minute more.

2. Be incredibly organised, even if you have to fake it. For instance, get everything ready the night before. Have the school clothes in piles, pack the unfresh bits of the packed lunches, have any sports gear/musical instruments, etc lined up by the door. Write everything down on a calendar, even regular stuff like guitar lessons. Do not in any way rely on your memory. You do about 10,000 things in a day. You have no short-term memory.

3. Check their bags the night before and remove any vital documentation such as letters from the school about outings, Roman days, cake sales, etc. Ruthlessly decide which is urgent or not urgent and bin everything else. Have a semi-organised urgent pile somewhere out of reach of small hands. Bear in mind that unless you have a system for upgrading the non-urgent stuff after weekly review, it is likely to be ignored for ever.

4. For packed lunches: always have a stockpile of bread and fillings as you will probably not have time during the week to top up your packed lunch supply and may have to resort to some interesting combos, such as ham and jam. Plant an apple tree so you can have a constant supply of fruit. Fruit is great because it is not only healthy but needs no preparation time built in, unlike sandwiches.

5. Hang up clothes after washing and hope this will mean you can get away with no ironing. If this doesn’t work, only iron the sweatshirts and trousers. No one will notice the shirt underneath.

6. If you have pets, make sure you choose low-maintenance, clean pets. Some appear to be low-maintenance, eg guinea pigs, but have complex psychological habits and poo a lot. Go for animals like cats which are independent and require no walking in the rain at 7am.

7. Develop some sort of contract with the children that they have to choose any items they want to take to school with them in the first 20 minutes of getting up or they are “timed out”. This should prevent them suddenly remembering some small statue they need to show the teacher at around two minutes before they are due to be in class. Of course, trying to enforce contracts with children is a lost cause in the vast majority of cases.

8. Have breakfast themes for a week which you agree in advance, eg, cereal to avoid the half hour where they stare into the distance, half-awake, while you try to get them to ascertain what they will deign to eat.

9. Hide make-up and body paints. You have been warned. If you turn your head for a minute, they will have painted all their nails green and have rouge covering their entire face. It is also a good idea to keep fit as getting the kids ready for school requires the stamina of a long-distance runner plus the ability to do last-minute sprints down the school lane.

10. Allow around one to two minutes to get yourself dressed. Try and get it down to 30 seconds and you will reap the rewards of winning the never being late badge or whatever bribery system the school offers children to get into school on time. Even if it is the parents who deserve any medals going.





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