Taming the Madness of the School Run

Learning to find ways to cope with a crazy school run helps me stay sane



Anyone else have a crazy morning, and find the school run just adds enough stress to bring you to boiling point

Setting the scene

You've hit snooze one too many times.

"You never get me anything I WANT for breakfast." Wails your crabby 6-year old, as he's refusing to eat.

Your 8-year-old is moaning. She doesn't have time to finish her drawing. There isn't time to plait her hair, and she can't find her favourite must-have-right-now toy.

You're really about to flip your lid.

Sound familiar?

You wistfully dream of a time where:

  • Everything goes to plan
  • You keep your cool
  • Where you run off to a desert island and drink cocktails in a hammock, whilst you leave your feral kids back at home to fight amongst themselves.

Here's the first thing to remember - because I don't think we believe it all the time:

You're doing great!

Getting out the house in the morning and ON time, can feel like you're herding cats.

Go on! Give yourself a pat on the back, you did it! You made it through a stressful morning, your kids are at school and you can take a breather.

So what, if by retrospect you knew you could have handled it differently? Feeling guilty or stressed keeps you feeling stuck and overwhelmed. OK, so I'm a parenting coach and even I don't have it together all the time, but these are a few things that help:


If you carry on doing the same thing every morning, nothing's going to change. You have to start figuring out what you can do to lessen your stresses.

When calm has returned, take a moment and pause. (Go on! take three deep breaths.)

Replay in your mind, what exactly went off plan. What are your sticking points in the morning? What can you do to make your morning routine less rushed and hectic?

Involve your children in finding solutions, without blame or guilt.

So instead of: "It's all your fault, we're late again. When will you ever learn to listen?"

Try:" Mornings are becoming really rushed and stressful, we need to find a way to be ready on time. How do you think we could do this?"

In other words, move on and find solutions.


Even simple things like leaving everyone's shoes by the front door and keeping a hairbrush in the car can be life-changing.

I know of many families who leave the toothbrushes downstairs in the morning, far easier to keep the kids downstairs than lose one halfway up the stairs when they become too engrossed in their favourite toy.


Start to pay attention to how you sound and if it encourages your child's cooperation. Do you end up shouting like a drill sergeant or find yourself nagging?

Demanding and threatening demeanours leave our children feeling coerced and therefore, more likely to push them into defiance.

Ever wondered why utter chaos can unfold in the blink of an eye? Our communication has a HUGE role to play


You might not think you can take a pause in the mad dash for the front door. I know all too well that five highly stressed minutes can feel like an eternity.

So you know what I bought myself that helps?

An egg timer. Sounds funny, but it trained me to take a pause.

I take my coffee off to the kitchen.

Set the time for 5 minutes.

Enjoy a few sips of HOT coffee - while I let my kids get on with it - without me nagging and stressing them out.

I feel calmer and in charge without joining in their chaos. And they feel less controlled.

Win-Win I say.


It's OK to acknowledge our slip-ups. It's a powerful message to our kids when we also take accountability for our mistakes.

Connect and move on to find solutions - isn't that what we want them to do too?

It can be all too easy to focus on what went wrong and whose fault it was we're running late. All this just keeps us stuck in Groundhog Day.

"There she goes the old nag." I'm sure my kids are muttering under their breath if I don't catch myself and stop with my nagging.

Try something like: "I'm sorry I shouted at you this morning. It wasn't the start to the day I wanted for us. I love you so much, let's focus on what we can do differently tomorrow. Do you have any ideas?"


It sure does shift the mood.

A while ago my children had a silly game of trying to pull down each other's pyjama bottoms down at breakfast. They loved pulling each other over in a rugby tackle to win the "pyjama bottom' championship.

It drove me crazy.

However, it's all in how we see these situations. As annoying as it is, I chose to see it as sibling bonding time- it was funny. Well, at least in their eyes. And we still laugh about it now, years later.

So, by changing our habits small steps at a time we can bring the calm we need in the morning chaos.

I'm still hitting snooze one too many times, but, at least I have tools to manage the chaos.

And then there is the unexpected - my son has just spilt cereal all down his school uniform and I've got a mad dash to find clean clothes... aaah the joys of parenthood.

Much love, Camilla

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First Steps, Berkshire