I’ve been meaning to write for some time about the life altering event that occurred in September of last year.
My son started school.
For my British friends, you know the deal…in this country, kids start school at age 4, 5 days a week. 8:30am – 3pm (or thereabouts).
My son is lucky enough to go to a lovely quaint village school with lovely families and friends.
I live in said village and therefore have the option to walk the 17 minute route each day however, as it inevitably does, life takes over – as does winter and sideways rain – so the car has been our chosen mode of transport to get Sam to school.
Now – for a little context for my Canadian friends – the “school run” is a bit infamous over here. Instead of school buses, the vast majority of British school kids are driven daily. So even for a small village school, there are hundreds of cars cramming down very tight British roads, vying for the inevitably small amount of parking spaces. I know it’s not far from the truth across the pond but I find that over here, it takes on a whole new level of hectic.
From the moment I was a childless worker bee in London, I heard of the ‘School Run’ from co-workers, who would have to brave this parent rite of passage before coming to the office a frazzled mess. They couldn’t believe the way so-and-so was driving or how many spots so-and-so selfishly took up.
Even then I could sense it was a very tense time.
There are literally Facebook pages that are dedicated to naming and shaming (quite rightly I might add) bad drivers who do dangerous manoeuvres around a school. You see normally friendly parents shouting profanities and giving daggered stares at those who would dare cut in line at the drop-off point.
It’s actually quite hectic.
So when my son was about to start school, I was ready.
I was mentally fit for action. I was one of you – the frazzled mothers and baffled fathers of school-aged children.
My solution to rising above the madness?
I would walk.
I would simply avoid the whole issue and that stress would never even touch me.
Then life and impossible twin daughters who won’t sit in a stroller for more than 5 seconds, squashed that lovely thought (as did previously mentioned sideways rain).
So here I was/am…I’m now part of the chaos. Every morning and every afternoon, 5 days a week.
I mean jeezus, I thought I looked forward to the weekend in my working life, before I had kids. But now, I claw myself through each day just trying to make sure I don’t have a complete tantrum before one of my 2 year olds inevitably does.
The parking itself is totally manageable…
…if you get to the school 45 min early.
Yes, you’ll have your pick of the prime spots.
I did this for a while. I thought I was so smart.
Then I realised I had to sit in a parked car with my three kids fighting with each other over who got what snack and what song we should sing (over and over again) until it was time to get out.
So the ‘early bird’ method did not last long. And let’s face it, what parent is ever organised enough to actually leave the door and arrive anywhere 45 minutes early?
So now the stress of getting the kids in the car with all the needed kit at the perfect time balance of ‘good parking options’ weighed against ‘fewest minutes waiting in the car’, is my daily reality.
And it’s not just the parking.
Oh no…there are other obstacles to this ever being a stress-free moment of my day.
I have toddlers. Two of them.
They each would like to think that they have the monopoly on mummy time and this comes out, of course, as we’re walking from the car to the school door.
The amount of times I’ve been “that mother” who has to leave one daughter screaming outside while my son insists I help him put his jacket on his peg.
God only knows where my other daughter is most times…I found her once literally IN my son’s classroom trying to pass herself off as a student.
Honestly – I’m exhausted just writing this.
The School Run has taken over my life, my calendar, my daily schedule.
First, you have kids and are ruled by eating times and naps. Now it’s all about how much you can cram into a day that can’t start until 9am (when, by some miracle, you actually got the younger kids back to the car, and after waiting in London-style gridlock traffic on what are normally quiet country lanes, you’re finally free)…. and then you have to be done by 2:30pm at the latest (to allow for commuting time back to the school of course).
Do you know how much you can get done in those 5.5 hours?
Nothing at all.
It’s the most awkward amount of time for anyone.
You barely have time to grab some groceries and take the little ones to the park – or worse, for those working mums/dads, get to the office and actually get a few meetings done and emails written before it’s that time again.
Seriously – I was more productive when I was 7 months pregnant with the twins and so heavy that I was forced to roll around the house on an office chair.
It’s all just madness.
So to go back to my original point, the school run is enough to drive any parent absolutely insane.
Who needs the constraints of a strait jacket when I wear a metaphorical one each day in the form of this beloved pass-time.
Happy Parenting! 😉