Learning to love the school run – a precious time

Overall the school run takes an hour. That’s two hours a day walking to and from schools

Each morning we wave goodbye to my wife as she drives to work. She’ll be back later, I tell the children, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes it feels like we’re in Little House on the Prairie and she’s setting off in a covered wagon and won’t be back until the following spring. I take a deep breath. Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

After the bedlam of breakfast comes the bedlam of getting dressed. We’re running late, but I still have to make their school lunches. One day I’ll have the wherewithal to make the lunches ahead of time, but today is not that day. With coats, bags, scarves, gloves and boots we bumble out the front door. I bribe our three-year-old to get into the buggy with yogurt-covered raisins. It is possibly too early in the day to be dishing out bribes, but again, we’re late. And besides, while walking she has this heart-stopping tendency to suddenly veer off the path on to the road without warning. She’s sort of a free spirit like that.

On the walk to school my son tells me a joke.

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Chicken who?"

This makes me laugh for a number of reasons, not least because (despite the punchline), he actually does understand the concept of a knock-knock joke. We tell a few more jokes to each other, and then I listen to them try to guess the other’s favourite fruit.


The road to the primary school is long and steep. I have been doing this school-run for three months and have still to notice any health benefits. It must be good for me, though. Something this physically strenuous has to be good for me. One day I’ll lose weight.

Pushing the buggy up a particularly unreasonable part of the hill, I can’t help but think how nice it would be to own a second car. But then I see David Attenborough’s face, shaking his head in sad disappointment. Could I live with the guilt of owning a second car? Could I really do that to Big Dave? We don’t need a second car, I decide. We can’t afford one anyway, so it’s a moot point.

But still, it’s good to think these things through.

We get to the school and with a hug and a kiss, he’s off. Some days he turns around for another wave, but not today. He’s got things to do, people to see. I wait until he’s completely out of view before leaving because I can’t bear the thought of him turning around to wave at the last second and not seeing me.

But nope, in he goes.

And then there were two. The walk back down to our daughter’s Montessori is generally a less eventful affair. She looks at the world go by and I think of the day ahead. She treats me to a running commentary of what she sees, but her voice is so tiny I find it difficult to hear. I wonder has anyone invented a baby intercom system for buggies. It might consist of a hanging microphone disguised as a toy, connected wirelessly to a set of Bluetooth headphones. Then we could chat away as we walked and I could hear every word she says. What a brilliant idea, I think. But by the time we reach the bottom of the hill I have changed my mind. It is a stupid idea. Again, good to think these things through.

Our daughter is happy going into Montessori and I am grateful. Overall the school run takes an hour. So that’s two hours a day walking to and from schools. It sounds like a lot, and I suppose it is. There are days I need help, and I’m lucky to have family happy to give it. Some days nana drops them off, some days their aunt picks them up. I’m not sure who appreciates this more – me or the children.

Although it feels no longer than 10 minutes, I actually have 2½ hours to myself at home. There’s never enough time to do everything I need to do. I potter, clean, try and fail to do some work, drink coffee, open Twitter, get depressed, close Twitter.

Collection is always more fun than drop-off. My daughter is so excited to see me she screams and throws her arms around me like we haven’t seen each other in weeks. After about 10 minutes she’s asleep in the buggy, so when we get to her brother’s school he’s free to unload all of the knowledge his spongy brain has soaked up.

The other day he asked me where the first person came from. How could the first person be born if they didn’t have a mama? This led to a lengthy and very entertaining chat about evolution. I did my best, but I’m pretty sure he now thinks there are certain fish that can magically transform into monkeys.

It feels like I have already lived a full day, but by the time we get home it’s still early afternoon. The remaining hours spread out before me like a gift. I even have time to make tomorrow’s lunch. Nah, there’ll be plenty of time in the morning.