The school summer holidays has its pros and cons (biggest con for most parents: managing childcare and work) but surely one of the best things about it is NO SCHOOL RUN! It’s without a doubt, one of the most stressful parts of the day, when you have school-age kids. I turn from zen-like-mummy into shouty mummy, in the space of ten seconds.
But guess what? It doesn’t have to be as hideous as you think.
Here are my tips on how to do it…
- Preparation. The key here is thinking ahead – making sure, every weekend, that you get as much school uniform into the laundry as possible, so that it’s clean and ready to wear throughout the week. Yep, I’ve been that mum who has realised on a Thursday morning that there are no clean school pinafores so ended up scraping dried baked bean juice off one, to make it wearable that day. So organising clean uniform for the week, on a Sunday, is a game changer. Likewise, if your children eat packed lunches, planning them and buying the food on a Sunday helps too. If you can prepare the packed lunch each evening and whack it in the fridge, even better.
- Staying on top of the school admin. One of the biggest school run stress-points for me is when – five minutes before we are due to leave – the seven-year-old says “Oh Mum, we need to take in some stuff for junk modelling today”. Which then results in me fishing around in our recycling bin, washing out some old milk cartons and hurriedly shoving them into a bag for her. Avoid the last-minute school admin panic by staying on top of it all – we’ve just bought an arch-level folder (with dividers!) which will be where we pop all letters and notes sent home from school. At the same time as putting the letter in the folder, we write a reminder on the calendar, so that we remember that next Wednesday is junk modelling day, Friday is school photo day and the following Tuesday is when £5 for the school trip needs to be handed in!
- Get an early wake-up. If you can bear it, get up half an hour before your kids. Even if it just allows you to sit with a cuppa in peace, scrolling through the BBC News app (or, you know, Instagram….) then you’re getting a mental head start. Try to set a morning routine that involves your children getting up at the same time every day – ours goes something like: 6am, I wake up. 6.30am, the 7-year-old gets up (she reads in bed if she’s awake any earlier), 6.35am, I make us breakfast, 7.30am, I get showered and she gets dressed for school, 8.20am, she brushes her teeth and I do her hair, 8.25am she packs her bag and gets her shoes on, 8.30am, we leave for school. Now, granted, it doesn’t always work out like this. I’d be lying if I said it did, but I’m a firm believer in having a routine and some structure to fall back on.
- Stay calm. I’m not even talking about you here – it’s worth getting your kids into a calm state of mind too. Ten minutes of yoga or mindfulness with Cosmic Kids can be all it takes to reframe their start to the day and make them feel calmer and happier. And calm, happy kids never refuse to put on their school shoes, right?! Equally, if you can take a few minutes with a meditation or mindfulness app on your phone, it can make the world of difference to your morning.
- Banish homework. Not completely – the school might have something to say about that – but in the mornings. Ensure all homework and reading is done after school, leaving the mornings clear for getting ready. There’s nothing more stressful than struggling to help a child do their eight times tables five minutes before you’re due to leave for school.
Of course, however the school run happens, it’s important to be prepared with a Kleenex®Pocket Pack for wiping noses, dealing with that dried-on baked beans stain that you didn’t spot until you were at the school gate or even for your own tear-stained cheeks if your little one is heading to school for the first time.
And the good news? If the school run goes badly… you get another chance to nail it tomorrow!
But don’t just listen to me, check out Helen and Ellie from The Scummy Mummies’ tips on the school run…
This post has been commissioned by Kleenex and as always, all views are my own. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.