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Beating the morning rush

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Is beating the morning rush just a pipe dream? Ever blown up the microwave trying to ‘emergency-dry’ a school shirt (surely there was another clean one in the drawer)? Or realised halfway to school that you haven’t brushed your child’s hair, let alone tied it back? And if you get all that right, how about delivering your immaculately uniformed offspring to the school gates only to find that every other child is in fancy dress (how did you miss THAT letter)? We’ve all had our share of stressful or downright disastrous school runs. So how do you get everyone out of the house properly dressed, on time and without major meltdowns? Here are some of our favourite tips:

Get uniforms ready

Try to wash and iron all the school uniforms at the weekend and hang them up, ready to go. You could even go as far as putting a whole outfit on a hanger per child per day, if you want the kids to help themselves in the mornings without spreading clothes everywhere. Ironing in front of a favourite TV programme, with a bucket of coffee and plenty of chocolate should get you through.beating the morning rush

Packed lunch preparation

Even if you can face ham and cheese first thing in the morning, you don’t need the hassle, so why not make up packed lunches the night before? Hell, make a week’s worth and freeze them if it gets you out the door on time, and avoids that moment when you realise you’ve run out of bread. (Marmite, cheese or jam sandwiches freeze well – tuna mayo, not so much.)

Think about school dinners

For a few pennies more but even less stress, you could switch to school dinners. Despite Jamie Oliver’s concerns about quality – and the horsemeat debacle aside (at the time of writing Sodexho have removed all frozen and processed ‘beef’ from their menus) – school meals are a sight more palatable than they once were (faggots and cold, lumpy mash, anyone?) Pay termly rather than weekly if you can – it’s one less thing to remember every Monday morning.

Check book bags!

Make sure you check book-bags daily, and as early as possible, for those ‘Dear Parents’ letters and write down the dates of ‘own clothes day’, ‘wear a book-themed hat’ day and ‘bring a giraffe to school’ day (OK, that last one may have been made up). Keep all the letters and tickets nearby – a family organiser calendar with a pocket for each month’s ‘bumph’ is ideal and could save you from some cringe-worthy moments of forgetfulness.

Get ready first

Try getting yourself ready first in the morning, and then worrying about everyone else. It might smack a bit of grabbing your own oxygen mask on a plane before helping others, but it’s amazing how much calmer you feel knowing at least one of you is ahead of schedule. And you don’t want to be applying makeup or struggling with your tights at the same time as mopping up spilt cereal and hunting for the hairbrush, do you?beating the morning rush

Gain 10 minutes extra

How about aiming to leave the house 10 minutes earlier than you really need to? Of course you’ll know you have more time, but treat it like the real deadline and any slippage – that lost shoe or last-minute poo – won’t raise the stress levels or make you late.

TV tantrums

What’s more exciting to a six-year-old – cleaning your teeth, or Spongebob? Exactly, so unless you’re prepared to dress in a six-foot yellow foam suit to get their attention, try banning TV until everyone is brushed and dressed. That way a favourite programme is an incentive, not a distraction.

Set your alarm earlier

If all else fails and your morning routine is still stumbling at the last hurdle, you might need to bite the bullet and set your alarm earlier. It’s tough, especially if you’re up in the night battling teething, nightmares and wet beds, but that extra 10 or 15 minutes’ head start could make all the difference. And just think how good you’ll feel when it all goes smoothly for once.

It’s not the end of the world!beating the morning rush

But however organised you are, and no matter how long your run-up to stepping outside the house, there’s bound to be something that trips you up occasionally. From broken washing machines to cars that won’t start, you can’t plan for everything. For those times, the only advice is to cut yourself some slack. That faint orange-y stain (spaghetti?) you’ve only just noticed on an otherwise clean white shirt? Her jumper will cover it. A big scuff on the toe of his shoes? His mates probably all have one too. Ask yourself, truly, who is really going to care, or even notice? Sometimes you have to let the small stuff go and remember that in all likelihood the only person judging you so harshly is you. Have a good day!

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About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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