School Runnings

With the first term of school under our belt, and the half term holidays now behind us, it’s back to the mayhem routine of the school run for the G-unit. Just weeks ago, the school run was a total unknown quantity, the stuff of dark legend…and now, it kinda feels like we have been doing it for a hundred thousand years. And we probably will be doing it for equally as long, so no time for moaning, time to suck it up and get it done.

In all honesty, the year of [a different] pre school was excellent training for the main event, although the ability to park outside the nursery gate lent itself to a much milder experience overall!

If you are reading this over a (microwaved) brew, watching Deal or No Deal while your baby naps / feeds / cries you may be thinking this time will never come. But believe me, the time comes to us all, in the blink of an eye.

There are some lessons I’ve already mastered, and those I’m yet to nail, so here’s my little nod to all the fun of the school run.

Timing is everything

You may remember, that I am a rare breed of parent. The punctual kind. Annoyingly so. Thus, we have extended this ability with slick precision to school arrival. To be fair, when one of your kids wakes up  pre 6am most days, we have no excuse. Militant as ever, it’s breakfast by 7.15, start getting dressed by 7.30, hair (x3) by 7.45, coats/shoes/ chasing of toddler by 8.00, in car by 8.10, parking point by 8.20, walk to school…first in line (always) by 8.30. Kids in 8.35. Home for my 9am meeting with the kettle and my fave mug. The day the kids sleep in will be a momentous one for functionality, but a gloomy one for school punctuality.

The reverse journey at home time is even more of a delicate balance – too early and you’ll be pounced on by a bunch of teachers come security guards who think you’re there to steal a kid. Too late and you’ll be waaay back at the end of the queue leaving your (my) child to think there must have been an alien invasion, for Mummy to be L A S T.

Seasonal curve balls

That said, the application of sun cream, the correct size wellies, the finding of matching two gloves, the rummage in the pile of coats, the appropriate hat selection, an umbrella EACH, game of find the missing flip flop always adds on a crucial ten minutes.

Wear one layer less that you think

Regress back to that newborn baby advice that left you scratching your head 4 years ago. Yes it seems chilly, there’s a bit of a breeze, it’s finally time to don that new autumn knitwear, that feather stuffed coat. Think twice…by the time you have navigated the krypton factor assault course of 8.30 you will be left sweating and carrying all excess clothing, and promising you won’t make the same mistake tomorrow.

In search of the perfect school coat…

While we are on the subject of clothing, let’s talk about coats. For the kids primarily. In the heat of the summer a school coat seemed so far away we barely gave it a thought. We had a hand-me-down monsoon jacket which would fit the Autumn windproof bill perfectly. And then , on day 2 of school…a monsoon. I was online as quick as you can say Muddy Puddles, and couldn’t have been happier with my essential pac-a-mac in the uniform navy. And then it got cold. Really cold. So we ventured out in search of a warm parka. With that barely out of it’s packaging came some unseasonably warm autumn afternoons. The poor kids were all carrying their jumpers and parkas out of class with red rosy cheeks. And then, the cold wet day…do we revert back to the pack a mac? But will it be too cold? Yesterday was roasting, but it feels chilly this morning…And so on. Today I sent in a very confused 4 year old wearing ‘two coats’ in the freezing downpour. One for warmth, one for waterproofing. Is that weird?

The accessory of choice

It seems, on our particular route, which is part car, part walk, the item you cannot be seen dead without is the scooter. Spot the Mums traipsing home carrying two or even three scooters in a clever stacked fashion…and the running Mum who impressively jogs alongside her riderless three wheeler. God forbid  you forget to bring it on the homeward journey, or you will pay.

Mouse on wheels

At exactly 24 months old, it’s been a bit tricky to know how to play the toddler card. So, while she begs to walk (and her sister begs to be in the pushchair), we are persevering with the buggy. I trialled her walking / scooting once, and swore not again for a LONG TIME while. The 15 minute march is just a bit too far for her little legs, unless we leave the house at 7.30, and Mummy has her weetabix – because she’ll end up carrying a tired toddler who’s fallen over three times, a scooter and three coats.

Parking politics

It only took one week for me to have a ding dong with a home owner in the side road I park in. Admittedly, the old dude must have got fed up with the school run traffic over the years, but absolutely positively sure I wasn’t illegally parked, I thought it was a bit harsh that he said he wanted to tie a rope around my tow bar and drag my car away,  but at least it wasn’t my neck.

Just a few weeks later, I got a little note on my car for parking part way over someone’s double driveway. I thought I was a-OK because there was only half with dropped kerb and I kept that half clear – withenogh room to leave the drive for both cars. To be fair, the note was polite and explained it made exiting the driveway dangerous, so I took it on board. Plus I never like being told off. Won’t do it again. Sorry Miss.

Near death experiences

It’s true what they say – some of the driving and parking as close to the gate as possible beggars belief. 4×4’s parked on double yellows, sudden swerves regardless of your walking tots, doors flung open in faces, and on-pavement parking leaving a space too small to push a buggy past. Obviously, as seen above I’m not perfect, BUT please shoot me if I ever get as bad as these guys.

On Wednesdays we walk

Taking all of the above into account, and that of our carbon footprint the obvious question is ‘why not walk?’. In all honesty, we probably should. And hopefully we will, when we’ve adjusted a little to the school days. As yet, we are just about managing to get to the car without little legs needing to sit on the floor for a rest. But, just to prove we can, we have started walking home one day a week, just as we did at nursery. On a day we have nowhere to be, and we can take our time. As time goes by we can up the walking and drop the driving. That’s the long term goal!

Start as you mean to go on

I quickly learnt the repetition of the school run is instilled in the kids as much as us. Initially, in favour of an easy life ‘dummy and bunny’ came with us in the buggy to sedate an otherwise fidgety mouse on the 15 minute march to the school. Snacks were also provided on the way home. As both things we are supposed to be cutting down on, I realised we were reinforcing the bad habits. We’re trying to switch to chatting about the birds / trees, but, some days are just chocolate brioche days.

The new girl

The walk to school has been a friendly experience – with lots of familiar faces and friends with kids in years above. The kids seem to have no problem muddling along, scooting off together, but Mum..? She’s feeling a little like the new girl! I mean, what time does the gate open and shut? Can we walk across that playground? Even if it’s got kids on it? And what is the status quo on chatting. Do people want to walk and talk each day? Or should you just offer a friendly hi and get on with your journey… No idea. A bit like a clueless commuter trying to chat to other people on the train, I’m probably that annoying parent.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Although the school run gets a bad press, it’s not all bad. The morning walks through the leaves, scooting happily along an off road path are actually quite lovely. The  mouse loves a little walk too, on the way to collect her sister, when we are (obviously) ridiculously early. I’m really lucky that as yet, I have no pressure of needing to be at work or be anywhere other than home for a brew and a spot of Bing, so we’re taking it all in our stride.


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