Surviving the school run


Whether you've braving it for the first time – or the umpteenth – the daily transfer of school-sized bodies from bedroom to classroom is always something of a parental challenge. Which is why you need these 40 crucial dos and don'ts from Mumsnet's most seriously sorted school-run hardnuts...

Alarm clock set for 7amDos

  • Drill them to put everything in its rightful place as soon as they come back from school. Organisation is key. spidermum
  • Lay out everyone's clothes the night before, including your own. comebacksummer
  • Put the clocks forward ten minutes. It means the kids get a move on but you're not rushing about like a looney. whatkatydidntdo
  • Put your kids to bed early. Those who stay up till all hours will be tired and grotty in the morning - a recipe for conflict. fortyplus
  • Buy a coffee machine with a timer and set it for ten minutes before your alarm goes off. The smell will help you get up and you'll have valuable caffeine power for army-style manoeuvres. evilsparklystepmom
  • Get yourself dressed before getting the kids up - if you're telling them off for being in their pyjamas when you're still in yours you're fighting a losing battle. MrsBadger
  • Cut your hair short, so running your fingers through it is almost as good as brushing it. MayhemMum
  • Make and freeze a mammoth load of sandwiches with various fillings. Move to lunchboxes as necessary each morning, along with a piece of kitchen roll, so they don't go soggy when they're defrosting. (Until they defrost, they'll keep the rest of the packed lunch cold, too). Fillings that freeze successfully: cold meats with/without pickle; salmon and cream cheese; tuna; cheese; peanut butter; honey. Steer clear of egg or salad. giraffeski
  • Get them dressed before breakfast. If not, they disappear back into their bedroom in a trance-like state. Celia2
  • Keep breakfast things in low cupboards, so children can help themselves/set the table. redshoes
  • Use aprons to eradicate breakfast-on-uniform traumas. MrsBadger
  • Keep toothbrushes and flannels in the kitchen or downstairs loo to stop trips upstairs. What goes up doesn't necessarily come down - at least not without a fight. Perigrine
  • Meet resistance to getting ready with disinterest and the words, 'I don't care whether you put your shoes on/get in the car/whatever. But if we're late, I'll tell your teacher why.' This works perfectly providing a) you really don't care and will live out the threat and b) your child doesn't reply, 'I don't care either' - in which case you're buggered. Issymum
  • Keep a hairbrush and hairgrips/ bands in the car. And raincoats for those days that start fine but are foul by the time you get to school. renaldo
  • Keep a stash of muesli bars, juice cartons, bananas in the glovebox for the really ghastly mornings - even if the kids have had breakfast, you won't have done! MrsBadger
  • Use a sticker chart. My children earn smiley faces for getting ready without moaning, helping siblings and so on. The incentive is Friday's DVD night: the child with the most stickers at the end of the week chooses the film, second place chooses the snacks, and third place shows everyone to and from their seats with a torch. Mamalil
  • If it takes too long to walk, try a scooter. Nearlypinkmummy
  • Tell your kids that the first child to arrive in the school playground (with clean teeth and brushed hair) gets a sweet from the head-teacher every day. They'll never be first, so they won't know it's a lie. shimmy21
  • Park round the corner from school, so it looks like you've walked. Time it so everyone's just going in and you don't have to mingle with the other parents. southeastastra
  • Use bribery. The child who behaves best in the car gets first go on the Playstation when they get home. amynnixmum
  • Shout a lot. You can ask nicely a hundred times but nothing will get done until you shout, so you might as well do it straightaway. utterlyconfused

Don'tsAlarm clock set for 7am

  • Don't just put bags etc by the front door the night before; put them in the car. MrsBadger
  • Just because he is always up at 5.45am, never rely on the baby to wake you all up in time. fruitful
  • Never hit the snooze button, thinking you have time for 'five minutes more'. MrsBadger
  • Don't attempt to shower, put on make-up or put any thought into your wardrobe. You'll only fail and upset yourself. Spidermama
  • Don't buy more than one type of school sock. That way you'll always have matching pairs. hana
  • Never pander to the notion that packed lunches are even an option. School lunches are excellent for mental health - yours! Blu
  • Don't allow TV in the mornings. Just as men can't multi-task, so small boys cannot watch TV and do anything else at the same time. Not putting it on is much easier than turning it off after the inevitable screaming row. exbury
  • Once they're downstairs, don't let them go back up. Move in one direction only: towards the door. (That said, I think the only real solution is contraception). utterlyconfused
  • Never keep your bag and your keys on a hook right by the front door. It seems like a good idea until the TV, the car and all your savings disappear. Mind you, it does solve the TV/No TV and walk/drive arguments. Willow2
  • Do not go back for ANYTHING they've forgotten and make sure they know that. CocoLoco
  • Never go out in your pyjamas, however late you are. That'll be the morning you get a flat tyre (as heard on MN), have a minor collision (as heard on MN) or forget your house keys (as heard on MN). Califrau
  • Don't have more than one child. batters

And if all else fails...Alarm clock set for 7am

  • Remember that being five minutes late for school is not the end of the world! Enid
  • Try singing. I make up random songs on the spot, such as, 'Now is the time to clean your teeth'. Sing deliberately badly, open your windows and threaten to sing at top volume if they don't hurry up. My sons hate it and find it really embarrassing. Don't stop until they're ready to go. tigermoth
  • If they absolutely won't get dressed, put them in the car in their pyjamas and get them dressed outside school. CocoLoco
  • Put them to bed in their uniform and send them to breakfast club at school. That way they can just get up and walk straight out the door. ledodgy
  • Feed them their breakfast the evening before to save time. shimmy21
  • Buy them a bus pass and push them out of the door. Milliways
  • Home-educate and give all this nonsense a miss! Hideehi

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Last updated: about 2 years ago