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14 tips to beat school run stress

When my eldest daughter first started at primary school, I was always disorganised. I would forget packed lunches, lose forms and have to leg it with the buggy to make it to school on time. But nowadays I run a much tighter ship before and after the school run, which means I feel calmer and less stressed. I also lose forms less often.

These are my tips for keeping your blood pressure on a more even keel:

After school tips

1. Get your kids to hang up their coats and bags

Ask anyone aged over three to hang their things straight away, preferably on photochild-level pegs. It’s good for their self-confidence, but also it’s just not your job to collect piles of clothes from the floor day after day. That way madness lies.

2. Create a home for their shoes

It doesn’t matter where it is – a plastic box, a cupboard or a spot against the wall – as long as the kids tidy their shoes away, rather than kicking them off and walking away from the mess.

3. Move lunchboxes and water bottles

Encourage your children to put their lunchboxes and water bottles by the sink to be washed, rather than letting them languish in their schoolbags, only to be discovered when you’re about to leave the next day. I speak from experience.

4. Rifle through their school bags daily

Every evening, hunt through your child’s school bag for those all-important school newsletters, parent-teacher meeting forms, field trip permission slips and party invites. Don’t leave it for days on end, and then wonder why you’re missing important events.

5. Do school admin as soon as possible

Remember the paperwork you found in the school bag? Fill in the forms and answer the invites straight away. If you stick them up on your notice board, thinking you’ll get round to them later, chances are they could end up buried by recipes and supermarket vouchers. Don’t forget to jot down the dates in your calendar.

6. Prepare tomorrow morning’s school bags

Try to prepare ahead of time what the kids need for tomorrow’s school run – from popping homework back into a school bag to putting PE kit by the front door and ironing a shirt for the next day’s school photo. (I’m still working on this one by the way.)

7. Write a quick list to beat the morning’s chaos

Every evening in bed, I quickly add a to-do list to my phone’s reminder service, for example to make packed lunches, hand in those school forms or make a doctor’s appointment. It means I fall asleep faster, as I haven’t forgotten something important. The bad news is you’ve then got to remember to check your reminders the next day.

Before school tips

1. Get up a bit earlier than the kids

This one’s a real bummer when you’re already exhausted and probably sleep-deprived. But in my house, if I wake up at the same time as the children, there isn’t enough time to get everything done calmly – or, in other words, without shouting.

2. Make every minute count

Work out when you need to leave in order to walk through the school gates feeling relaxed and calm with happy children. Then work backwards. How long does it take to cajole your brood to eat breakfast, brush teeth or get dressed? Be firm and stick to your time slots.

3. ‘No breakfast till you’re dressed on school days.’

My kids weren’t keen on this one so I tried letting them get dressed in the kitchen after breakfast, but there was too much larking around. So now there’s a strict rule in place, courtesy of a wise friend, that the eldest two get dressed in their bedrooms. (The toddler is such a messy eater that he doesn’t count.)

4. You may not be able to sit down

It would be lovely if I could sit at the table with the kids to eat breakfast, but there’s just no time on school days. Instead, try eating standing up, while making packed lunches/ buttering toast/ pouring drinks/ stopping squabbles/ answering questions/ changing a nappy/ soothing tantrums/ researching birthday parties etc.

5. The kids can’t go back upstairs once they’re downstairs

This might sound mean, but everything goes a lot more swimmingly if you don’t have to coax the children away from their favourite toys day after day, just to go to school.

6.Brush hair and teeth downstairs

This tip, passed on from another wise friend, has been vital to my sanity. Previously, we had to keep trooping up to the bathroom and back down again, with all the cajoling, squabbles and rising stress levels that this involved. But now we keep hair clips, bobbles and teeth paraphernalia in the kitchen, and I get these big jobs ticked off straight after breakfast, two paces from my nice cup of tea.

7. Accept that you can’t always win

Your toddler probably cares nothing for your time management skills. Mine protests loudly and tearfully when it’s time to brush his teeth or get him dressed, so despite my best intentions, we still end up racing to beat the school bell occasionally. Just goes to show, no matter how organised you are, those pesky kids may get you in the end.

 

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Comments (65)

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    Toni Dundas

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    This article made me giggle :) I always think I’ve left enough time to walk calmly through the gates but I’m usually the one running and stressed out! You’d think after 4 years we’d have it sorted – No! Great top tips there Carole, and, I love the illustrations :) x

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      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, Toni. Glad you like it. I’m usually walking extremely briskly to school to make it on time.

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    Karen @ Cycle Sprog

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    Great post! We cycle to school everyday, so you can imagine the extra things we have to add to that list. The morning is a whirlwind of trying to get helmets and gloves on, unlocking bikes and trying to make sure we’ve got the right rucksacks on the right backs!
    And if it’s raining……. waterproof trousers can add crucial minutes!!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Wow, Karen, I don’t know how you manage. i’d have to get up even earlier to cope with all that. Lots of respect going your way.

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    Karen

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    Enjoyed reading this write up, totally agree with doing as much as possible downstairs with the kids brushing their teeth doing their hair and getting dressed I have lived by that rule a long time. By the time they get to high school it’s easier (as they walk themselves) however homework volume increases and appointments in the diary are very important my life would be chaotic without my phone diary keeping me organised.

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      healthiermummy

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      Hi Karen, thanks for your comment. I’m glad I’m not the only one relying on my phone diaries. Where would be without them?

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    Becky

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    Hi Lovely blog, but really dislike the eating standing up tip. I have three children, we eat every morning together, it is a lovely calm start to our day, you just need to wake up earlier, have pack lunches and all school things ready the night before. It is a great opportunity to all catch up with what the plans are for that day….who has which activity, any playdates organised, any worries for the day ahead etc. At first it feels alot of effort but it is worth it.

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      healthiermummy

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      Hi Becky, Absolutely, I agree with everything you say. In an ideal world, I’d definitely be aiming to sit down with the kids. I haven’t quite managed that yet, but will keep trying. I love the sound of your calm mornings.

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    Christina

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    Brilliant advice. After reading this, I’ve started the “No breakfast until you’re dressed” rule and it’s really helping to make my life less stressful.
    Now if only I could get my son to put his shoes and coat on without asking umpteen times….!

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      healthiermummy

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      Glad it helped, Christina. And I’m still working on the shoes and coat thing too…

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    Emily (@amummytoo)

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    Brilliant tips and it makes such a difference to how you feel at the end of the day, doesn’t it? I’ve been making tiny daily tweaks to the way we organise our lives and it’s making a huge difference to my stress levels!

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      healthiermummy

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      Tweaks are the way forward. I think I need your tips!

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      healthiermummy

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      I don’t have teenagers yet – I’ll leave that one to you!

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    Shell Louise

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    We always make it to school on time but it’s never stress free in the morning! Now we’re in this new home, our walk to school takes longer so we have less time in the mornings. I’ve made a vow to get them and myself more organised so we’ll be getting everything ready the night before. Hanging up coats and putting shoes away is one of my main gripes so I’ve bought a proper shoe rack and separate hooks for school coats and bags. We WILL have a stress free term!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Good luck, sounds like you’re getting really organised. You’ll beat this pesky school run thing!

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    Mummy of Two

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    Some great tips! At the moment it isn’t too stressful as I am lucky enough not to have to work so don’t have to make sure I look good in the morning, plus I only have one at school! I do find some days worse than others though for rushing around – mainly getting coats and shoes on!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      It’s pretty hard getting out on cold days, I agree – coats, gloves, scarves, hats! Aergh! But the scorching days are the worst – applying sunscreen to unwilling kids takes ages.

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    Priya Tew

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    Some great tips here, especially like the one about not going upstairs after breakfast, we oftne lose my pre-schooler back in her room! Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Yes, they just get swallowed up by their toys, don’t they? Keeping them downstairs is the key.

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    Mums do travel

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    My main school run stress is that I spend 3 hours a day as a school taxi service because we live in a rural area and the schools are miles away with no public transport to get the kids there. But your tips are great!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Oh no, being a school taxi service sounds like no fun. Poor you. Hope you at least get to listen to your choice of radio tunes.

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    VaiChin @ Rambling Through Parenthood

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    Excellent tips. We have recently started pre-school, and I can already see what’s coming when proper school starts! Will keep these in mind.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Pre-school is brilliant practice for school. Thanks for your comment.

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    Sylvia @ Happiness is homemade

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    I don’t have kids myself yet but it’s good to learn some tips for the future :) I’m trying to be more organized every day! Thanks for the tips!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Hope they’re helpful.

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    Angela Spicer

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    some good tips there. We have child sized coat pegs already, and a space for shoes. 6yo has to empty her lunch box and book bag, but the morning routine leaves a little bit to be desired in this house.

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      healthiermummy

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      Oh good luck, and I love your hallway pics on your blog. Thanks for linking with me.

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    Clare Mansell

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    Very sensible advice, I’m quite glad my son isn’t at school yet, the school run always sounds quite stressful!

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      healthiermummy

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      It’s very stressful without these tips in place!

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    You Baby Me Mummy

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    What great tips! We are not that age yet x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      You’ll get there before you know it. The time passes in a flash.

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    Jen aka The Mad House

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    Excellents tips. If I didn’t get everything ready the night before, it would be a nightmare!

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      healthiermummy

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      You’re clearly far more organised than me. I’m not quite there yet with the night before, although that’s my aim.

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    Charly Dove

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    Really great tips there and some we can do now too (school starts in 2015!) – lovely post :)

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thank you. My little boy starts in 2015 too!

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    Michelle

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    A really good set of tips here. Some even apply still for when they’re in secondary school!!

    I used to make his packed lunches the night before and, as he grew up, he’d be able to grab his sarnie and drink from the fridge, and then the rest from the snack box (crisps, fruit etc) before he left for school.

    I recently posted 7 Tips For Throwing A Great BBQ: http://www.thepurplepumpkinblog.co.uk/2014/02/7-tips-for-throwing-a-great-bbq.html

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      healthiermummy

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      I like the idea of the kids grabbing their own lunch. One day…

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    Jo Bryan

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    Great tips. These apply to my teens too and now even for work days. I have to get up before others I need that alone, wake up moments before the madness begins!

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      healthiermummy

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      Me too. It’s the best time for a cuppa.

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    laura redburn

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    i think a lot of these things kind of apply even if you don’t have a child!

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    Jenny

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    My son only attends nursery in the afternoons so I am enjoying our long lazy mornings for as long as possible!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Good idea. They’ll be gone before you know it.

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    Kate Williams

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    I need to follow these!! I have a three year old and the coat and shoes on the floor business drives me insane!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Definitely can make you go crazy.

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    Kate Thompson

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    Excellent post. I love the cold weather – when it is around 0-3C outside I even pack the car ready the night before, even lunches as it’s as cold as a fridge out there!

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      healthiermummy

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      That’s a great idea. Hadn’t thought of that one!

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    Ninja cat

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    Brilliant tips

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      healthiermummy

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      Thank you.

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    clare nicholas

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    Great tips – I deliberately chose afternoon Nursery sessions for Emmy as I knew I wouldn’t get out the door on time – I’m dreading it

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      healthiermummy

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      Good idea, although morning sessions do get you practising for school.

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    Gude @HodgePodgeCraft

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    Toddlers eh? Doesn’t matter how well prepared you are, they can still throw off your timings with a last-minute wobbly! 😉

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Absolutely. Unpredictable things.

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    Kirsty

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    What a great set of tips that also made me laugh! Getting out of the door in the morning really is a military operation. I had a friend at school who had to make all her sandwiches for the week on Sunday and bag them up for the freezer then all her mum did each morning was grab the relevant sandwich from the freezer and chuck it in a lunchbox with a banana! Great time saver but I’m not sure what the sandwiches tasted like.

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      healthiermummy

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      I’ve got a friend who freezes sandwiches too! She assures me that they’re perfectly fine.

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    Charlotte

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    Some fab tips, it’s hard to be organised when you’re so naturally unorganised! lol x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thank you. I’ve had to make myself more organised too.

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    Hellie's Corner

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    Great tips, things get a bit more relaxed when they move up to high school :-)

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    kara

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    Great tips – I have the school run down to a fine art, but then I do have 6 kids and am a childminder so I have had lots of practice!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Wow, very impressive. I think I need your tips!

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    Cass@frugalfamily

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    Brilliant tips – getting ready for school is like a military operation in our house. 😉

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Definitely military is the best way!

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    Lori

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    These are great tips! I like the idea of making things the child’s height level to help with independence. Also I probably start need to get up earlier than F. Thanks for sharing x

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    Keri-Anne

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    Elle started school in September and these are great tips. I too am so disorganised but slowly getting a routine going x

Comments are closed