I remember once thinking the school run with a baby and a four year old was tough. HA HA HA. I had NO idea. Two years on, I now have to do the school run with a toddler and it’s a whole different ball game. But, luckily for you, I’ve managed to create a fool-proof method to it all so that I’m “bossing” it like I’m “winning at life”. Ready? Here’s the super-simple, easy to follow manual for how to do the school run with a toddler. You’re welcome.
1. Get up at 5am.
Now, this may seem extreme, but once you realise how long it actually takes to get ready with a toddler around you’ll thank me. Obviously you won’t be so stupid as to attempt a shower on a morning of a school run (that would just be ludicrous!) but you will, unfortunately, need to get dressed and perhaps brush your teeth. These activities will take approximately one hour, in between helping both children get dressed themselves, putting away all the clothes your toddler removes from various drawers around the house, refereeing arguments over “sharing” and favourite toys and, of course, using all your negotiation tactics to do the morning nappy change.
2. Invest in a second toaster.
One child will want crumpets while the other wants toast. This is the law with children – they want different things, until they see a sibling eating the thing they’ve previously turned their nose up at and then decide they want that thing after all. Avoid the drama of lovingly making each child their requested breakfast by keeping two toasters in your kitchen and making double of everything.
3. Start teeth brushing at least one hour before you need to leave the house.
Don’t come crying to me that your kids won’t brush their teeth, if you’re leaving it until five minutes before you need to leave the house. Everyone knows it takes at least thirty minutes to persuade a child to brush their teeth – and you need to add on an extra fifteen minutes to that time frame if your tot is under the age of three. One hour should be just enough time to squeeze in the inevitable drama over toothbrushes, toddlers wanting to squeeze out their own toothpaste, older children deciding they don’t need to brush their teeth and the ten minutes quiet hyperventilation time you’ll need to deal with the “challenging” situation.
4. Give up shoes.
It always surprises me how many parents are dead set on the supposed “necessity” of shoes. I mean, are shoes really a necessity? Are they? Really? Just think of all the accumulated hours you could save every year if you were just to give up shoes. All those tantrums over which pair of shoes to wear and the long minutes spent patiently explaining that no, Daddy’s shoes are not appropriate footwear to wear to school if you’re two years old. Of course if you are dead set on staying with the shoe thing then you’ll probably need to adjust your alarm clock and get up at least an extra hour earlier, possibly two if you choose those ridiculous shoes with buckles or laces.
5. Keep all toys in a lock-up container at least one mile from the house.
Toddlers like to carry random stuff, fact. Why take one bag full of useless crap to school when you can take two, or four, or ten? If you’re naive enough to keep toys in your actual house then don’t be surprised if your tot decides – at just the moment you’re walking out of the door – that they NEED to bring an umbrella, a box of duplo and push their doll’s buggy all the way to school. It’s your funeral, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
6. Allow fifteen minutes per yard.
If walking to school, allow at least fifteen minutes per yard. This will account for the regular intervals when your toddler needs to inspect a piece of grit on the pavement, or walk backwards, or pretend to be a tree etc etc. Don’t be fooled by a child who likes to run. Running is equally as time consuming, because it involves running backwards and forwards, covering the same piece of pavement multiple times.
7. Enrol your toddler for school at the age of two.
It’s very hard on younger siblings when their brothers and sisters go to school. They can’t understand why they have to wave goodbye and leave the classroom, when their older sis gets to stay there all day. No amount of clever tactics seems to win them a place in the classroom – including the usual fail safe method of hiding under the table. So why not just avoid the heartache all together and bring forward your toddler’s school enrolment date by a couple of years? Any reasonable school will understand your plight. If they’re unsure, just gently remind them to “think of the children”.
(If none of the above work there’s always the option to consider home schooling and cut out the school run altogether. Worth a thought.)