Do you struggle to get your kids to school or nursery on time?
Actually, do you know anyone who doesn't struggle?
Take one early morning. Add sleep deprived parents, reluctant children, admin-heavy schools, complex timetables, PTA cake sales and random special costume days and you have a recipe for mayhem, grumpiness and a lot of shouting. I would be amazed if anyone actually found the school run easy or enjoyable.
I'm certainly not the most obvious person to give advice about timing, as I am always running slightly late for everything. However, I have worked out a few tweaks and tricks to make the mornings a little less painful for everyone involved. It is also worth noting that in the the whole of his time at primary school my son was only actually LATE for registration once, when he was still in the nursery and his baby sister did a massive poonami up the back of her own head. Oh happy days.
So here we go, in no particular order, my golden tips for doing less running on the school run.
It's a simple little trick, and won't really fool you or the kids into being ready any sooner, but as you start to get nearer to leaving-the-house time, I find it takes too much brain power to calculate the real time and it's easier to just get out of the house asap. To make this work you will also need to change the time on the microwave, the cooker, and probably the dvd player too. NOTE: If you can do all this you are going to ace whatever parenting throws at you, and you probably don't need tips on getting to school on time. If not, keep reading.
The last bell at my kids school goes at 8.55. We live 5 minutes walk away, or a 3 minute run. I know this as we have mostly had to run there for the last 8 years. Every. Single. Day. In my head we needed to leave the house by 8.50, which means that we needed to have shoes and coats on, and have all our bags, slips, change, homework, costumes, etc ready and about our persons by 8.50. And yet....I found myself getting out of the shower, shouting instructions to the kids down two flights of stairs while trying to get dressed, at 8.45 most days. This is too late. Much too late. This allows no time for forgotten letters, lost shoes, glasses retrieval or last-minute poo-stops. This term I have attempted to reprogram myself. 8.45 is now the moment we need to leave the house. This gives us an extra 5 minutes if we need it (we usually do) to find the lost shoe, do the last-minute poo (not me, I should add), sign the forms, put on gloves etc etc. This term my daughter and I have mostly walked to school. Actually walked. It's been lovely.
For each child, on each day, list exactly what they will need to take in. If books have to go back on Monday, homework on Wednesday, swimming kit and a snack on Thursday or whatever, write it down, along with anything that has to go in every day, such as money for fruit, or a packed lunch. Then, before your child goes to bed, check the list together and get everything ready, preferably by the front door so it can't get forgotten in the morning. Even if they are quite young, getting kids involved in the planning will be really good training, and should make life easier for you in the longer run. This is likely to be the moment when you realise you needed to bake fairy cakes for tomorrows cake sale, that the PE kit hasn't been washed, or the reading book has been sicked-on by the cat. Better to know now than at 8.50 tomorrow morning though. Probably. This should also help you avoid turning up to the before-school gymnastics club a whole day early. (Yup, we actually did this, and I didn't realise until I got back home and saw three missed calls on my phone from school asking me to please come back and collect my child. Oops.)
Even better, get your child to check it on a phone app. Are you going to need anoraks and wellington boots tomorrow, or sun-cream and hats? Save yourself a few moments of extra dash in the morning by getting the seasonal extras ready. Also, if you and your child have discussed this together the night before then you are less likely to encounter hat-related meltdown or boot-refusing tantrum at 8.50am or thereabouts. Obviously weather forecasts can be wrong. Often they are, but it is nice to go to bed with a sense of preparedness.
I'm talking about a neat folded pile of clean clothes including pants and socks, right in the middle of the bedroom floor. Grab them while the bath is running, or while the kids brush their teeth. Leave them somewhere prominent enough that even the most rubbish child will be able to spot them through sleep-encrusted eyes in the morning. Again, this is the moment you may discover there are no clean pants, socks, trousers anything...but at least there is still time to do a quick wash. This is also a much better time to open negotiations with a style-conscious toddler as it should give you at least 12 hours to agree about that tutu, batman cape or flimsy sun-dress in winter...rather than at 8.50am tomorrow morning. This is also a good time to have a quick think about what YOU are going to wear tomorrow. I find that if I have a rough idea in my head the night before of what I am going to wear then I am less likely to get dressed and then wail at my reflection, have a tantrum and want to start all over again. Or...
No one will blink at a black jersey trouser-leg poking out from under your coat. Pink flannel printed with teddy-bears, however, will always give the game away. Dry shampoo is also your friend. Miraculous stuff, it will turn the most greasy mop into something less allarming in a couple of sprays if you only left yourself a few minutes to get ready. Alternatively, a bobble hat can work wonders in winter. Less good in summer, obviously.
I am 100% a night owl. I struggle all day to feel awake, then, by 10pm I am finally ready for the day. I have always set myself a midnight bedtime, but am often still awake and reading by 1am. This makes the mornings 100% harder for everyone, as I am super grumpy and not good at remembering anything, or capable of patience, tolerance or kindness. I am quite good at shouting though. This term I have been trying to convince myself that 11pm is the new midnight. Sometimes it works, sometimes I spend an hour getting myself organised, faffing, reading, sorting laundry etc. Mostly I can then be asleep by 12am, and therefore a little less grumpy and evil in the morning. If you are adding a sleep-breaking, night-waking child into this equation then you may need to set your own bedtime much earlier. Just remember, you will have unbroken nights of sleep again, one day, and they will be marvelous. In the meantime, keep going.
Or swap their laces for stretchy elastic Hickies, or Shoeps, or something similar. Seriously, I know that tying shoelaces is a very important life skill, but it is also one of the biggest potential battle grounds in the field of domestic warfare. Make this last stage before leaving the house as stress-free as possible and hopefully you will all be a little happier as you saunter off to school with plenty of time....
Well, it's worth a try, eh?