I’m almost giggling at myself for posting advice on how to nail the stress-free school run. ‘Lo! The Oracle speaks!’ Actually, I feel like a bit of a charlatan.
As personality types go, I’m a bit of a stress-head. If I was a cartoon character, I’m pretty sure I’d have permanently flushed cheeks and beads of sweat flying from my brow.
Yup. My stress-response is decidedly wonky. Missing car keys, a mislaid work pass, that ever-elusive left plimsoll – searching for any of these can send me into a cortisol-induced frenzy. So with this predisposition for freaking out, naturally, the school run ranks as DEFCON 1 on my internal scale of high alert.
In terms of unfortunate life events, it’s as though my brain places ‘being late’ right up there alongside being chased by flesh-starved lions or the Zombie Apocalypse. But I know it’s not just me who finds getting up and out in the mornings a total faff…
Why the school run sucks
All the conditions are ripe for the weekday morning ritual to be a royal pain in the ass.
Whether it’s breakfast bother (you SAID toast!!), a tooth-cleaning tantrum, raiding the sofa for dinner money, or playing Russian roulette on the roundabout-of-death – school run frolics can cause the most ‘zen’ among us to have a mini-meltdown. Especially on the days you have to make two trips due to the forgotten school bag/PE kit/banjo.
Or worse, the belated discovery that it’s wear-something-yellow-but-also-spotty day. As Jane Austen once said:
‘it’s a truth universally acknowledge that, on such days, you WILL get stuck behind the bin lorry and have a 9.30am appointment with the boss.’
When you consider that there’s a tight time-frame for undertaking these scholastic shenanigans – and throw in the fear of your child being marked as late (the shame!) – you soon wonder whether you’ll find your sanity in the Lost Property next to that missing plimsoll.
Teaching the school run a lesson
But all this aside, I have learned a few hacks to make it to the school gates without totally losing the plot. Some are too obvious to mention (hot tip: get up earlier!) but, for what it’s worth, here are some things that help me:
1. Teach your child to be responsible for their own belongings. Get them to pack up their PE kit the night before, and round up their books in the mornings. Yes, it takes time to master this one. But ultimately it’s good for kids to learn to be self-organised (code for: gives you time to check you’re wearing trousers before heading out).
2. Get some perspective! That morning when you knocked over the entire box of cornflakes and then jumped in the shower to find the boiler had gone kaput… held you back a bit, right? No one wants their child to be late but, in the grand scheme, a small blot on their punctuality record won’t go down in the annals of history. Sh*t happens.
3. Breathe deeply and slow down your actions rather than rush. This doesn’t just work from a ‘less haste, more speed’ perspective, it also makes you feel a lot calmer and in control – which, let’s face it, is half the battle.
4. Don’t become Mumzilla. Just because you’re feeling flustered, don’t get all shouty with the kids. They need to start the school day feeling cheery – not like they’ve just escaped the tyranny of Sargent Major Mum. It makes you feel lousy too – not the best foundation for a hassle-free day.
It takes conscious effort to become a lower-strung mum but if it sounds like I’m wishing away my school drop-off days, I’m actually not.
Paradoxically, I love taking my son to school and waving him off everyday. It means a lot to us both. I know i’ll be gutted when he starts taking himself to secondary school. (But that’s not to say I am not looking forward to the break during the holidays!)
So does the school run send you into a tailspin? Or have you got the daily drop-off locked down? If so, what’s your secret?