All they have to do, is sit there, listen to the radio and metaphorically put their feet up whilst I drive them to school. Simple, you’d think.
Ohhh. My. God. The morning school run is anything but*. It’s the most dangerous time to be on the road (if you’re not a stressed and harassed school run mum (or dad). It’s fraught with tantrums, fights, forgetting of homework and school PE kit, last minute food tech ingredient requests, and sudden announcements of school trips with special items needed (announced half way to school when there’s NO TURNING BACK). It’s the most anxiety-inducing and stressful car-driving experience there can be. And, (brilliant) it takes place 5 days a week.
In my naivety I always assumed it would get easier as the kids get older. Surely it’s more stressful with little ones? WRONG. With littlies, good old fashioned distraction techniques and sing-alongs can work a treat (hooray!).
Sadly, 14 year olds just aren’t that in to sing-alongs with mum any more or being encouraged to count all the red cars on the road … Nope, the trials and tribulations of the morning school run just gets worse. Two ‘almost teens’ plus one established teen is the perfect formula for morning school run chaos and tears (mine usually – I regularly now rock the mascara-streaming-down-cheeks look). Arguments kick off CONSTANTLY due to really terrible, scary and crazy things when you’re a teen, such as: ‘he looked at me’, ‘she touched my school bag’, ‘he coughed’ … Give me STRENGTH.
A usual 20 minute morning school run will consist of: at least once, pulling the car over and turning off the engine until the kids stop killing each other, realise the time lag and then moan about being late for school (bizarrely mine don’t like being late); asking nicely, then quickly escalating to shouting (swearing) like a wild woman possessed, for them to stop (whatever it is that they’re doing to ‘pass the time’); knowing that my heart has literally stopped – I am having an actual heart attack – whilst uttering the phrase ‘Mummy is now having a heart attack – is this what you WANT!!!’ – I’m lying about ‘uttering’ I meant screaming. It’s at this point that all forms of communication are forbidden – no talking, no looking, no touching, no texting, no hacking in to each other’s Instagram, FB et al … accounts. NOTHING. NIL. And the radio is cranked up super, super loud. By the time we rock up at school drop off number one, I have a demonic look on my face and could literally kill anyone with my ‘death stare’ – please do not cross me at this point. I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH.
Over time though, and via much head-banging-on-steering-wheel moments, I’ve managed to get it a bit sussed and now have a proper strategy (and everything) to increase the likelihood of morning school run survival:
1. Inside knowledge – all three school and homework timetables are now in my possession for a sneaky the-night-before check in (boring and tedious but being ahead of the game is vital in the fight against car chaos!). I know (mostly) who needs what and when by.
2. Breakfast – full tummies equals less chance of cranky, grumpy (irritating) teens.
3. Music – turn it up LOUD. So you can’t hear the squabbles. This is also called ‘opting out’.
4. Seating – stick to the same rules every day as to who sits where and who’s turn it is blah, blah blah (boring but essential). If there are two kids on the back seat they must be kept separated at all times. No sitting in the middle seat. EVER. It’s too tempting for scuffles to kick off – you have been warned.
5. Communication – ensure earphones are handed to each child to plug in to which ever device they have. As long as mine are ‘plugged in’ they pretty much don’t communicate with each other in any way – brilliant. And I can listen to anything but the hell that is my kids plus KISS FM
*Just so we’re clear, the morning school run is in a league of its own when compared to any other driving-with-children experiences including the actually not-so-dreaded after-school run. This is nearly not so bad mainly as I’ve cracked this one: the car becomes a moving cafe. It’s snacks a go-go. Works every time 🙂
Happy school run driving!