The Bad Mother’s Guide to the School Run

Schoolrun
Flea is now in the early stages of her fourth year at school (if you count pre-school) and you’d think I’d be getting better at the business of being a school Mum.

You’d be wrong, though.

Having said that we have become experts at what I call the ‘Bad Mother School Run’. This means I have developed a routine that means I can stay in bed until precisely 8.11am and STILL get out of the house by 8.25am, and deliver Flea to school, 7 miles away, on the dot of 8.40am.

If you, too, don’t think you’ll ever be one of those ‘up at 7am making healthy sandwiches and home-made granola’ type of Mothers, this post explains how you, too, can get the morning school run down to 30 minutes or less. 

Tip One: Don’t give yourself time for things to go wrong

Ensure your alarm is set for 15 minutes before you need to leave for school. Seriously, if you allow yourself more time than this, you’re just building in time for things to go wrong. Given time, kids just get distracted, or start remembering things you need to do, like sew on buttons or respond to party invitations. Avoid this at all costs.

Tip Two: Location is everything

Don’t leave hairbrushes in the bathroom. That just means running up and down stairs and wasting valuable minutes. Instead, place a basket immediately inside the back door that contains hairbrush, detangling spray and bobbles – allowing you to put up your child’s hair in 10 seconds, en route to the garage.

Tip Three:  Eat on the move

Breakfast in a cup. Seriously, breakfast in bowls at a table? A luxury that we can’t afford in this household. Cereal in a cup, mixed with some dry fruit is a perfectly nutritious breakfast and can be eaten in the car – meaning we gain an extra 5 minutes in bed each morning. This is a good thing. Also, send your child to a school where school lunches are compulsory – makes life a LOT simpler. 

Tip Four:  Prepare your vehicle

Rather than messing around washing and filling flasks of juice and water, simply give your child a small bottle of mineral water each day. Advanced Bad Parents may opt to keep a large multi-pack of water in the boot of the car, thereby removing the need to find a bottle in the fridge each morning and meaning you can never forget your child’s drink. Valuable minutes can be shaved off the morning routine using this approach.

Tip Five:  Don’t raise anyone’s expectations

Never be the parent who remembers forms and letters and permission slips. The school’s teachers will quickly realise you’re incompetent and will make allowances for you. For example, this morning when I dropped off Flea, the teacher had prepared a photocopy of a required permission slip for her music lessons, anticipating that I would have forgotten to bring our own form with us. 

Tip Six: Buy a hat

Seriously. Hat and sunglasses = you don't need to brush your hair or put on make-up. It's a no brainer. 

I feel confident that if you follow my method, you too could transform your school run. Please feel free to share your own time-saving tips in the comments. 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

42 Comments

  1. Joanne (Family of Four)
    13th September 2011 / 11:29 am

    Some useful tips here, thanks! Yesterday I was worried how I could get two kids (with my youngest having just started school) out on time without my husband around to help. Setting the alarm for the calculated 6:30 was just WAY too early so I settled for the usual 7am, getting up at 7:15 ish. Strangely though we got to school early. Maybe my husband’s help is not so “helpful” after all!

  2. 13th September 2011 / 11:31 am

    This just rings so many bells except that you are clearly an organised bad mother whereas I am not even a good bad mother!

  3. 13th September 2011 / 11:38 am

    you crack me up!

  4. 13th September 2011 / 11:46 am

    I specifically had a boy so I wouldn’t have to bother with combing hair – that’s how good a bad mother I am. Six pack of water in the boot – check! Toast in the car – check! I do, however, set my alarm for 7.30am, snooze till 8.10, leave at 8.35 … I reckon that’s pretty good going. *bows in admiration*

  5. Adi
    13th September 2011 / 12:20 pm

    You never fail!!! You write so nicely and it’s fun to read!!!
    Having had the privilege of meeting you – I know you’re serious about every word you wrote – that what makes you so special and a GREAT Mum 🙂
    Just one comment to all (sorry if this puts you in a bad spot – but I MUST) – Please don’t keep plastic bottles in the car… so unhealthy to drink out of after it’s been in the sun for a few days…
    Keep them coming – your posts are great!

  6. 13th September 2011 / 12:32 pm

    I love when people who know me verify that my blog is, basically, unvarnished truth.
    I love also that you think I live somewhere sunny. I don’t. It’s the North of England, my garage is basically only a degree or so warmer than the fridge.

  7. 13th September 2011 / 12:32 pm

    Snoozing is also a big part of my morning routine.

  8. 13th September 2011 / 12:33 pm

    I feel all proud of myself and my incompetence now, thanks for that!

  9. 13th September 2011 / 12:33 pm

    See? My theory is true. Less time = less opportunity for things to go wrong.

  10. 13th September 2011 / 2:14 pm

    I fully agree, I get up as late as possible, giving minimum time to get things done. The earlier you get up the more faffing about you do and end up late anyway. Great tips x

  11. 13th September 2011 / 3:47 pm

    Number 5 – rofl! i am already that mother and I haven’t even started yet!

  12. 13th September 2011 / 6:20 pm

    I leave the house as I hear the school bell ring. Avoids all the small talk…

  13. 13th September 2011 / 6:21 pm

    A big coat is useful for day when there’s no time to get dressed. In the winter you wear a tracksuit to bed of course so no geetting dressed involved.
    One woman here puts her 2yo twins in the double buggy at 7am and walks to the nursery. She dresses them in the park next to the nursery (hot country) and gives them a bottle of milk each (breakfast later in nursery). They are the first to arrive at 7.30 when the doors open.

  14. Pants With Names
    13th September 2011 / 8:43 pm

    Live 1 minute walk from the school. Good for speed of school run and also for ease of going back later to deliver everything you’ve left behind earlier (my current record is 5 round trips in one day…). Ooo and have boys with short hair who need no brushing.

  15. 13th September 2011 / 8:50 pm

    I love it and will aspire to be the same! Staying in bed till after 8 sounds good to me! Although slightly hindered by my kids waking up at 7…..

  16. 13th September 2011 / 9:14 pm

    Sounds like I may have to kill my morning cuppa habit before Little Miss C starts school as I can’t see time for that in your schedule! 🙂

  17. Susan Eardley
    13th September 2011 / 10:43 pm

    Where has this advice been for the last three years!!! You are officially my new idol!!

  18. 4little1s
    14th September 2011 / 7:27 am

    LOL – you are so right…how many times have I heard at 08:00 ‘ Oh I forgot to say that I need an xyz for school this morning!’

  19. 14th September 2011 / 9:43 am

    I have no bought a pink hairbrush as its the only way we can find it in the morning. But then our school run is less time than yours. But I still have to be up at 7 to make breakfast for 2, lunch for 2 (me and eldest) , then get kids up at 7.15 and hubs doesn’t get up until 7:50!
    But I will strive to follow your plan!
    BNM

  20. susie@newdaynewlesson
    14th September 2011 / 11:17 am

    LMAO as usual.:-)

  21. 14th September 2011 / 11:47 am

    I apply real dedication to being this inept, it’s true.

  22. 14th September 2011 / 11:48 am

    Arf. That just means when you get there, you’ll be EVEN better.

  23. 14th September 2011 / 11:48 am

    Gosh, yes, I don’t talk to anyone. *shudders*

  24. 14th September 2011 / 11:49 am

    Nice. I do at least manage to get dressed, but wearing basically the same outfit every day – jeans, t-shirt, hoodie – means it’s fairly painless.

  25. 14th September 2011 / 11:49 am

    Oh dear.
    If it helps, I’ve trained Flea to stay in bed with a book if she wakes before me.

  26. 14th September 2011 / 11:50 am

    I go to Caffe Nero on the way back home. It’s all built into the plan, you know…

  27. 14th September 2011 / 11:54 am

    Excellent advice – how do I swap mine?

  28. 14th September 2011 / 11:55 am

    See? I speak the truth. Lastminute is the ONLY way to go.

  29. 14th September 2011 / 11:56 am

    Oh BNM. Let me help.
    Breakfast in a cup doesn’t need pre-making. Nor do cereal bars or tubes of yoghurt. At a push, if I’m feeling extra virtuous, I might make a Marmite sandwich – 20 seconds, tops.
    I’d tell you what I make if I need to make a packed lunch but it might make you hate me…

  30. 14th September 2011 / 12:21 pm

    Love it! Some great ideas there. Will definitely bookmark this page. LOL!

  31. Nikki
    14th September 2011 / 1:56 pm

    How can someone so “disorganised” have cups arranged in cupboards like yours PMSL!!!
    Loved reading it – total opposite to my school run (think the antithesis to yours lol – I can’t bear not having forms signed, comments in comms books etc plus giving the kids breakfast a full – we’re talking fruit, cereal, yoghurt and toast for brekkie each – at the table)
    It’s great to appreciate the differences lol – I might loosen up a bit 🙂 My top tip? Live 30 metres from school – rubbish at school run time as stupid parents park across my drive blocking my exit (not that I’m going anywhere but I feel the need to shout at them anyway) but awesome in terms of last minute dashes for books, show and tell items ect, late drop offs – we leave the house at 840 and collection at 310 🙂

  32. Clare
    14th September 2011 / 1:57 pm

    haha Love it. I so do some of those, including the water in the car thing (well, more like diet coke for me!)
    Let me add some!
    1) Leave all bags, coats, scarves, gloves etc etc in the car (after checking them for letters on the way home from school) so you know they will be there the next morning and they can be put on en-route to school
    2) We have a big box that all school uniform (folded) including underwear and shoes, so they know that everything is in there and they don’t run round having to get stuff out of different drawers and places
    3) Toothbrushes live downstairs, so they literally eat breakfast and then brush their teeth downstairs – saves making them go back upstairs to brush their teeth.
    4) In a bid to be organised, I have a zip up folder in the car to keep letters or party invites that require a “response”, along with cheque book, stamps and pen, so I am pretty much prepared for any thing I need to give in at school. I also printed off the school notes printable from here http://www.mommypalooza.com/2009/08/mom-musthave-printables-for-simplifying-your-life.html, so if I need to give a message to her teacher, I can whip one out, scribble a message in the car and get her to give it to the teacher.
    5) I do my hair and make-up in the car. Kind of defeats the whole “hat and sunglasses” thing, but I have perfected the art of doing eyeliner whilst going round a roundabout to a T.
    Even though it sounds all very organised and good motherish, I am so not. My extreme night owl tendencies keep me up until 1 or 2am most nights and so I really don’t function welll in the morning and am generally only out of bed half and hour to 45 mins before we have to leave and not fully awake until about an hour after I get back home!
    My school run last year used to include starbucks on the way home, sadly now she goes to school in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t have that luxury.

  33. 14th September 2011 / 8:00 pm

    Hehe, and if you sleep in your hat and glasses then that shaves off precious minutes too. And you end up looking like a celebrity! Well… Kind of!

  34. 14th September 2011 / 9:43 pm

    I’m tucking this information away so that when my daughter starts school (next year OhMyGosh!) I am prepared and ready!

  35. 17th September 2011 / 1:14 pm

    Love it! think some adaptations with 3 might have to be made!

  36. Sherry Anderson
    19th September 2011 / 9:01 am

    This was so funny, yet at the same time strangely accurate…this is completely how I spent most of my time getting my kids to school as well. In time you learn to adapt.

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