It’s September and the kids are back to school. I for one welcome the routine that the start of the school year brings, but one thing I don’t welcome is the dreaded school-run.
Day one and I’m up at 6.30am. Showered, dressed, fully made up, I prepare fancy, healthy lunches for the kids and have a cup of tea before waking them. Everyone is mildly excited at what the new school year may bring, so the car journey is relatively calm. At the school I wave and smile at other parents and teachers as I settle the kids into their new classrooms. I get home and pat myself on the back for a job well done, tackle the washing up, and start on the evening’s dinner. I re-apply lipstick and collect the boys, taking in all their news and sharing the excitement that no homework brings.
Next day I wake up late and have to forgo the shower. I cover my unwashed hair with a threadbare cotton headband that makes me look like Keith Richards, throw on my mammy uniform of leggings + long vest + baggy jumper, and run around opening curtains and shouting “we’re late!”. I can’t think why, but the boys seem narky at this rude awakening, and the day begins with a few unpleasant exchanges. Lunch is thrown together while the kids eat breakfast, and as I wrestle the three of them into their respective uniforms I feel a sweat breaking out.
I eventually get them all in their car seats, diffusing the tantrums when somebody wants my phone or one of them looks at, touches or bites one of his brothers. I leave the driveway to a soundtrack of screeching – my tyres and their wails. I realise I didn’t brush my teeth, so I pop some gum in my mouth, but one of them notices and a war erupts. I turn the radio up and convince myself we’ll make up for lost time when we get stuck behind a tractor or the temporary traffic lights that appear sporadically on the back roads during the year.
We pull up at the school late and bail out of the car, and if I could do an ‘80s cop show roll over the bonnet, I would. I put on my huge Jackie O sunglasses and avoid eye-contact with parents and teachers, hoping they’ll think I’m Aisling’s dowdy au pair. I drop off the two eldest and head for the playschool, a little less fraught, then it’s back in the car where I crank up the radio and audition for X Factor all the way home.
I get home and look at the dirty dishes, the pile of washing and the empty fridge, and I plod upstairs, defeated, and collapse onto my bed, waking to shower and collect my little men at 1pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm, dreaming of 2019 when they will all have the same school schedule… FOR A YEAR!
On day three the homework has started and it’s tough – 2nd class has upped its game. My 7 year old spends most of the time crying and trying to avoid his maths, so I give him the following problem: “If Conall spends 10 minutes doing his maths and 40 minutes whingeing about it, how long does it take Conall to do his homework?” He squeals laughing at this but I know it’ll be the same tonight, and every week-night, until roughly 2025.
To do this thing right I have to get back into the mindset of when I was in school… but then again I had weekly detention for lates and mostly did my homework on Sunday night to the strains of Glenroe, or on Monday morning, copying whoever sat next to me. Perhaps I’m not the best example. Instead I will use Gwyneth’s mindset and wake at 6.30am every day (I won’t), having I laid out their ironed (nope) uniforms and prepared their lunches the night before (ha!). I will be a super-organised wonder woman and my school run will resemble something out of a Disney movie rather than a Quentin Tarantino one. These are my goals. Wish me luck!