Two eternal questions about motherhood:
- Why is it so hard to leave the house with small children? (Here is my previous exploration of the topic)
- Is school – where you to have your child there on time, every day, for the rest of your foreseeable life, *sob* – a feat of impossible endurance sent to try us?
Asking for, well, me clearly. Who finds the following events taking place every school day, without fail:
- After being brutally woken up at the dawn of time, again, thinking ‘We’ll be at school in plenty of time today, we have so much time! We might even be…early!’
- Then half a second before school starts we’re running towards it like the wind, waving school bags and water bottles and half-eaten breakfasts and hairbrushes, arms flailing, pushing people out of our way, shouting ‘Nooooo don’t shut the school gaaaate!’
Leaving the house with small children is an impossible task. Whole centuries have passed before everyone’s got their shoes on, by which time it’s dark outside and someone needs a wee again and you’ve given up on life. And that’s just on the days when you don’t have to *be* anywhere apart from the shop or park or playgroup.
Whereas one of the big problems with primary school and the school run is you have to be somewhere specific, at a very specific time, a time that’s also early in the morning and it’s 100% your responsibility. Nursery? You can turn mid-afternoon and they’ll still greet you joyfully and whip out a special breakfast. But school…
We are, predictably, one of *those* late families, meaning if we’re early, families going into school when I’m on my way out look at me with the fear in their eyes that this means they are really really late. However, we’ve only been signing-the-late-book-late-late once this entire year, we just sail very close to the wind. And yes, I do want a medal.
So why is leaving the house for the school run such a drawn-out process with so many potential delays? Here’s everything that’s likely to go wrong and everything that usually does:
- You ‘getting everything ready the night before’, a process that inevitably means you’ve forgotten the most important thing which renders all your smug preparation useless
- Someone sleeping in. Especially when the end-of-term exhaustion sets in. This never happens at weekends, does it?
- Super-slow eating of breakfast(s – one, two and three)
- Uniform…there’s always something missing. Like the tie. Or they won’t like those tights. Or those ones. Or those ones
- Missing shoes. Even if you leave them in the same space every day, there’s always one that’s gone awry
- Forgetting to fill in the reading diary. One of the many pitfalls of learning to read
- Homework that you’ve forgotten to get them to do. The dog ate it? More like your mum’s still using baby brain as an excuse for everything, even now, rather than face up to the fact that this is who she is now (she = me)
- Some kind of school admin, like a form, or some money, or some money and a form, or a million forms you’ve forgotten about, or some yoghurt pots you were supposed to send in last week at the absolute latest
- Refusal to get dressed (this is usually the non-school child)
- Distractions. This can be literally ANYTHING, from a suddenly fascinating fleck on dust on the floor through to a pile of recycling at the side of the curb. Or, you know, you looking at Instagram.
- Teeth. Have you done your teeth? Teeth! Teeeeeeeth
- Lost keys (always in the back pocket)
- Lost water bottle (always in the dishwasher)
- Deciding we’re definitely not taking the scooters as everyone really wants to walk, until the last second before we’re about to leave and everyone now can’t survive if we don’t have the scooters, and oh wait they’re locked in the shed
- Forgetting something at the last minute. Like a PE kit. Or suncream. Or a Royal wedding-themed hat made out of recycled materials (True story! Although we did, eventually, remember)
- Remembering you’ve forgotten something when you’re already at the school gate
- You, collapsing in an exhausted pit of existential despair
- Everyone developing super sloth speed, where it appears time is actually going backwards, that’s how long it takes to do things
- Ultimately, children not having developed the FEAR of being late. As someone with a lifetime’s experience of it, the idea of being late chills me to the bone. It doesn’t stop me being late, mind
- Having two or more children. One is delay-tastic enough, but add another into the mix and it increases the potential for something, anything to go wrong by more than a millionfold. People with three plus are total heroes – I genuinely don’t know how you do it
- A big question, at the worst possible time. ‘Mummy, is there an afterlife?’ It’s enough to stop you dead in your tracks.
So here are some school readiness tips, from me, if you will:
- Get everything ready the night before. Haha, just kidding
- Pick your school based on location. Screw Ofsted, being close to your house is the only thing that counts. We’re lucky that ours is literally in the next street. It’s great, but I would have picked it unless it had been the worst school in the entire world (I’m only partly joking)
- Consider homeschooling
- Have hope.
I recently posed the question on Facebook – does leaving the house with small children ever get easier? And a group of fantastic parents I know with a whole load more motherhood experience than me answered. The verdict? A big fat NO. Even from my own MUM. Karma’s a weird and wonderful thing, isn’t it?