As Myleene Klass discovered after her somewhat misguided decision to share a fellow parent’s year old email about birthday gifts, the school gate can be a battlefield. Before I had kids I naively thought all I would need to worry about was getting my children to lessons on time – little did I realise there are more politics involved in depositing the little ones at school than in Prime Minister’s Question Time! There are friendships to be formed and alliances to be made from day one.
Just like in the playground there is the cool gang which everyone wants to join; the swots (organising bake sales and selling raffle tickets); the rebels (smoking and letting their dogs off the lead) and the loners who stay on the fringes glued to their mobile phones. In the middle of it all are those of us who really just want to get our kids to school on time but secretly love the fact there is a pool of potential friends just waiting for us to say ‘hi’ at 8.45am every morning.
But before you even get to the gate there’s the problem of what to wear – no not the kids’ uniform(although ironing pleats is still beyond me) but the schoolyard fashion parade which we are led to believe goes on every day up and down the country. It always makes me laugh to see glossy magazine articles about ‘what to wear on the school run’. They usually feature some stick thin women with eclectic taste who drop their little darlings off at some swanky school before heading off to run a multi-national company or do Tantra yoga in the park. Their outfits are perfectly tailored and immaculately put together although I do wonder whether their hair and make-up would be as perfect if the cameras weren’t there. Fast forward to my life, picking up yesterday’s trousers off the floor, pulling a comb through my hair and piling on yet more mascara before running out the door, putting on my coat and grabbing the kids’ bags as I go. If I was judged by the standards set by the magazine mothers I would get a resounding F!
So my top tips for the school run:
- buddy up with someone who walks the same route as you – it makes the daily chore less boring and means there’s a willing volunteer if you ever too sick/stuck in a meeting to take your child to school
- smile at everyone (you never know who could become a lifelong pal)
- stay out of the kids’ arguments (they will have kissed and made up just as your parental feud is warming up)
- wear whatever is clean and closest to hand – if the school run really was a fashion show it would be red-carpeted with paparazzi on every corner and would end with a glass of fizz
- be on time! There’s nothing worse than facing the disapproving looks of a Head Teacher (even if you are 40!)