Ah the morning school run: that unavoidable duty characterised by whingeing and pestering in equal parts. A recent report in the UK has found that the school run is a health hazard (mainly due to driving and not walking and subsequent obesity issues). I don’t think my children are struggling with obesity but I do agree that the school run is a dire health hazard. Imagine starting every single day with that level of stress? It’s enough to give you a rash.
If I was one of the good people, I’d be out of bed at dawn’s crack with time enough for some brief but life-affirming meditation, ten sun salutes and a bit of get-in-front housework. I would gently wake my children and welcome them into a warm kitchen with bowls of steaming porridge and today’s spelling words. What a lovely picture. It appears to me every night before I go to sleep, along with a determination to make it happen the next morning. It never does. Here’s my reality:
The children wake a at dawn’s crack and pile into bed next to me. I think, “I should get up” and then pop the pillow over my head and fall back to sleep before I’ve even finished saying, “Just a few more minutes.” About 40 minutes later I lift my head and look at the clock. And presto, I have my very own version of the opening scene of Four Weddings and A Funeral: FUUUUUUUUCK, stumble from bed, pull up doona (that’s making the bed) and locate glasses so I can at least see what has to be done.
I see one or more of these:
- A terrible mess plainly directed at getting my attention, like the contents of the towel cupboard in the bath
- The children eating something inappropriate like TeeVee Snacks.
- Something inappropriate on the TeeVee.
I am an expert at the next bit. Within about 10 minutes I have them in their uniforms (“where are your socks?”…chase dog around house screeching, “drop the socks!”) and have chucked a bit of breakfast at them (“no time for toast, cereal only, no we don’t have cocopops”) and ripped a hairbrush through their hair.
Then I hit the shower, from where I can audibly shout, “Are you eating? You’re not eating. I can hear that you’re not eating. Are you eating?” continuously while those healthy family experts’ “always eat together” diatribes echo in my ears. When I emerge I find them crowded around the heater with their colouring in, breakfasts untouched and I curse those smarty pants family experts, simultaneously losing my shite over the breakfast and the time and their clear disobedience of my shouted shower directives.
After applying some sort of make-up mask to cover my morning face – hopefully remembering to mascara both eyes (mascara is non-negotiable, if I don’t wear it, people think I’m terminally ill) and insert 2 contact lenses, which will always get a bit of towel fluff on them and not go in, I get the children to wave a toothbrush somewhere near their mouth area, swab their faces to remove breakfast and toothpaste and screech about shoes and coats (“Do them up when we get there”).
9 times out of 10 I squeal to a halt at the bus stop at exactly the same time as the bus and the children are still putting on their shoes (and I resolve to get their earlier so we can play charming bus stop games and practice some maths while we wait). I know, impressive. I would go so far as to say that we – including the bus driver (God bless you Stacey) and all the children on the bus bear witness to a small miracle every school morning. Very generous of me I think.
How do I do it? Well here are some tips:
- Make lunches the day before. I know that in the mornings I’m about as useful as the eco setting on the dishwasher so I pack it all up the evening before and then screech at Ted to put the lunchboxes in bags the next morning
- I hang the uniforms on the clothes horse the night before. I know this is uncharacteristically good motherish but it’s purely selfish – I can get a bit of extra shut eye. I also class it as airing which is just the same as washing except better.
- I drive like the clappers and hope I don’t run over any lambs (no main roads, just 3 km of driveway).
Here are some school run short cuts I have seriously considered:
- Leave them at school for the night.
- Pop them into bed in their uniforms (my Dad tried this one with us – worked brilliantly).
- Leave their pigtails in overnight.
- Perfect a burnout maneuver at the bus stop so that the children can just open the door and fly out the car door to land in a pile at the bus stop steps without me even having to stop.
- Don’t bother with seatbelts (those bastards take up a ridiculous amount of time and shout voice). Not really an option if I want to proceed with the above point 3.
- Drop them at the bus stop the night before.
I don’t think I can safely (or legally) execute any of these things, which means that one day there will come the day when one of these will happen:
- I will be forced to do the school run wearing no make-up and a dressing gown when I swore I would never be one of those mums. There will be rumours going around that my husband had replaced me with some old bag with puffy eyes in a pink fleece dressing gown.
- I will put my face on but forget to get dressed.
- I will let my children have apple crumble and smarties for breakfast.
- I will just tell everyone to go back to bed and skip school altogether.
- I will dedicate myself to a brief (an hour or so) but intensive stint of home schooling. We will focus mainly on reading so that one day I can make a large chart and they can read their chores instead of hearing them being hollered from my mouth.
But you know what makes the whole noisy, shamozzely chaos all worth it? When you get back home again, post school run, even though it looks like some breakfast monster has raided the house and spat toothpaste all over the bathroom taps and it takes you an hour to get back in ship shape, how wonderful is that SILENCE?
Next year we will be in a new house and the school run will be in the past. I’ll just be able to open the door and roll the children down the hill for the amazing Stacey to skillfully field and throw into their seats. I wonder how many more zzzz’s I can get out of that?