The real school sports day, mum and toddler style

July 7, 2014


It’ll probably come as no great surprise that I hated school sports. From the autumnal wet netballs deliberately aimed at your cold legs, to the frosty winter hockey pitch and the scorching heat of summer athletics, when you’re trying not to break a sweat to avoid the ritual humiliation of the communal shower, it’s fair to say I was not a fan.

And sports day is indeed the pinnacle of all this. The soft touch of junior school sack races is all fun and games, but when you go to senior school…urgh. Being forced to display your unathletic prowess while the whole school watched, including whatever guy you had a massive crush on that week, the horror. Under a sun that shows no mercy for pale, freckly ginger people. Why was there never a day for the things I was good at; writing stories, reading magazines, talking on the phone with my friends?

As a non-participating adult, the most athletic I like to be over summer is going to the bar to get yet another bottle of rose. Or dashing to secure the new must-have summer shoes ahead of the whole of London’s womankind.

But add a toddler into the mix and it brings back a whole new sporting dimension back to summer activity, especially when the toddler is fully mobile and full of beans. I realised this last week, over the hottest day of the year, when I ran around the garden with mine all day, with no chance of relaxing on the sidelines.

So if parenting is more of a marathon – it’s fun but the days can stretch on forever, you don’t get to stop and sit down – then what would feature in the sports day of mum and dad life?

From sunburn application to paddling pools, here’s my suggestions for sports day events, mum and toddler style. On your marks…get set…and GO.

The time trial to find the swimming costume – usually right at the back of the wardrobe – and put it on them in a super-speedy fashion, while they’re excitedly shouting ‘paddling pool now please mummy!’ No pressure. Note; they will then take it off again in double-quick time.

Running laps around the garden to grab and hold them for long enough to put sun cream on.

Take aim…target practise of applying suncream to a slippery child who really, really doesn’t want suncream on.

The back-and-forth relay of filling up the paddling pool when you don’t have an hose for your outside tap. The paddling pool that then takes two minutes to be filled with leaves and every form of animal life.

Egg and spoon races? They have nothing on the balancing act of carrying drinks, snacks, suncream, small toddler and a million other things in and out of the garden, all at the same time.

The up and down pole vault of sun hat on…sun hat off. And repeat.

A sprint to the finish of tea, bath and bed at the end of a long, hot day.

Won at all / any / none of these events? It’s the taking part that counts, right? Give yourself a gold medal glass of wine. Or two.


  • laura redburn

    July 7, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    haha, love the ‘in case of emergency’ tag. like a lot of others i was most definitely not a fan of sports day either.

    1. gillian

      July 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      There can’t have been any people who actually liked it! x

  • Globalmouse

    July 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    This is so funny!! I was never very good with sports day either but I’m sure I’d win a few prizes now for all of my balancing acts!!

    1. gillian

      July 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      It’s all the stealth mum skills we pick up along the way! 🙂 x

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