How to win at the school run


Whether this is your first year on the school run or you are a seasoned veteran of the trade, there are plenty of tips and tricks to be picked up to get it down to an art. In this article, find out some of our top tips to nail the school run.

Try and get everything ready the night before

The best way to make sure you’re ready for anything is preparation and we all know that delaying something to the morning never works out the way it is planned. When it comes to the school run, starting the night before can be the key to success. Take 10 minutes to double-check school clothes are both wearable and findable, to make sure any special items are ready if needed and to make sure shoes are by the door. In doing this, when you wake up in the morning you can potentially save a lot more than 10 minutes of time, and a lot of stress.

Megan, a blogger at Diary of Dittrich agrees. She says: “My top tip for the school run is don’t overthink it. Pack everything the night before, Do the parts of the lunches that you can do in advance and make sure you set an alarm 15 minutes earlier than planned so you can snooze it at least once!”

Hayley, a blogger at Miss Many Pennies also suggests this approach: “Try and get everything ready the night before. Lay out school uniform in the bedroom ready to put on, make sure the kid’s bags are ready and make packed lunches. Then in the morning you can just pick things up and leave for the school run knowing everything’s sorted. Saves so much time and stress.”

Preparing the night before is a top tip for many people, including Sam from This Is Where It’s At, who told us: “Preparation is key to reducing the stress of a school run. Prepping as much as possible the night before such as getting school uniform or lunch ready. Having structure to your morning helps everyone know what is happening and helps keep a calm atmosphere.

Shoes lined up by door

Level up your organisation

One really great way to organise to the extreme is to create a weekly organisation system. Using boxes or drawers, laying out everything that will be needed for every day of the week can mean that you won’t even need to take 10 minutes in the evening simply to add school uniform into the next day alongside all of the other necessities.

Lisa from The Family Ticket explained: “What we do have though are the IKEA Kallax units with 10 boxes. 5 each for both boys. Each day filled with everything they need for the morning. I.e. uniform, pe kit, bags and completed homework. Smooth morning = smooth school run...sometimes!”

Set an alarm for leaving time

If your problem is actually getting out of the door, then setting an alarm for leaving time (or just before) could be a good way to solve it. Having an unmissable prompt for everyone 10 minutes before you are meant to leave will mean that everyone has a warning that it is shoes on time.

Victoria, a blogger at Lylia Rose told us that her “top tip would be to set an alarm to leave much earlier than you need to get ready to leave. Mine is set 20 minutes before we need to leave to make sure everyone has time to get their shoes on, get all the bags and lunchboxes together and to go to the toilet. It also allows any time for my youngest to resist getting ready and leaving the house! Being overprepared is always much better than being underprepared when it comes to the school runs!”

Children writing in classroom

Keep supplies in the car

With all the goodwill in the world, there can be days where things just don’t come together and having supplies in the car can be a good way to get one up on those days. Whether you choose to leave non-essentials in the car at the end of every day, or pack a few extras (a spare PE kit, spare pencil case or snack bars in case of a missed breakfast) this can help take the stress of forgetting something out of an already often chaotic morning routine.

Nikki, a blogger at Yorkshire Wonders told us this was something she does: “Try and leave as much stuff in the car as possible. By this, I mean coats, school bags, PE kit, musical instruments etc. This way even if you forget ‘it’s guitar on a Monday’ you always have it to hand at the school gate. This does mean they never practise said guitar, but at least they always have it with them for lessons! (Please don’t mention this to our music teacher!!)”

Don’t park directly outside the gates

If the traffic after the school drop off is causing you to be late for work, a great tip is to drop off the children a distance away from the gates and walk them in. This way, you are still able to get them there, but you won’t be battling for a way out when it comes to getting yourself away.

Tracey is a mum of two and blogs at Pack the PJs. She told us her top tip: “If the school your children go to requires them being driven there and back, have a set time that you leave the house in the morning. You should plan to arrive at the school a good 20 minutes before they need to be there. Then, when you are approaching the school, find a safe place to park some way from the gates, and let them walk the last few 100 metres. This is good for them, getting some air before lessons – and also REALLY good for you, especially if you can turn your car around, as you can miss out the gridlock chaos of all the parked cars and ‘drop off’ cars by not driving near it!

“The same idea for home time. If they want to, and it’s safe to do so, let them walk home (in twos, not alone). If they can’t, then arrange for them to walk away from the school and towards a safe place where you are parked and waiting for them. I am usually driving back into my village as most other school mums are heading to the school … they’ll sit in the drop-off traffic, and I’ll be at home having a coffee!”

Emma Reed also suggests parking away from the gates and walking: “On the school run itself, I make sure I leave a little earlier than need be so I can easily grab a parking space a little away from the school and then walk down to it. This is because it makes it far quicker and easier to get away after the drop-off. All those who park in the school car park tend to get backed-up and stuck and I can simply walk back to my car and drive away before most have got anywhere at all!”

Mother and child embracing

Don’t drag out goodbyes

Although it may be difficult to say goodbye to your little one, even for only a few hours, dragging out goodbyes can make this process even harder. When doing the drop-off, make sure you aren’t lingering. If your child sees you lingering it can cause them to get upset and can cause you to get more upset. Simply waving them off with a quick hug and kiss will often suffice.

Merith blogs about parenting at Merith’s Miscellany. She told us: “Don't drag out goodbyes. Keep it short and sweet and stay positive. Also, don't feel bad if your child runs off without saying goodbye at all!” Merith wrote more about this process of separation in her article, School Gate Goodbyes.

How to win the school run:

  • Try and ready everything the night before
  • Have a checklist by the door
  • Keep supplies in the car
  • Don’t park directly outside the gates
  • Don’t drag out goodbyes

These are just a small selection of the tips you can use to ensure your little ones get into the gates in time. There are plenty more that can work and as with everything with children, it’s just finding the right balance and the right routine.

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