You might think that the school run marks the beginning of a week day but in fact parents have already faced a whole raft of tasks and challenges before then.
In your pre-parent life you used to set your alarm to wake you about 45 minutes before you had to leave the house.
You probably showered, grabbed a quick breakfast, made yourself presentable, scrolled through your social media feed to catch up with any breaking news and then left the house.
Some days you were more sleepy than others but nothing that a hot cup of coffee couldn’t fix.
Fast forward to now you’re a parent and mornings are VERY different.
No wonder we’re all knackered by 9am.
Waking the kids, or the kids waking you
Your baby or toddler wakes you at the crack of dawn.
So you drag yourself out of bed with scratchy eyes and stumble to the lounge to start your parent duties.
If you have older kids then you start a five minute parent-nag cycle, trying to persuade your sleeping beauties out of their beds.
On the last pass you threaten to pour a glass of water over their heads.
Grabbing your first coffee
Never mind dealing with the pressing issues of sodden nappies or grumpy offspring.
Your first priority is to put the kettle on and make a strong coffee.
The chances of you drinking it hot are negligible but you make it optimistically nonetheless.
Persuading everyone to get dressed
You wrestle clothes onto your toddler and nag older children to get dressed ready to face the day.
Your threenager insists on wearing her new shark costume accessories with wellies and sunglasses for the school run. You’re too tired to argue.
You spend at least 10 minutes searching for a lost item of clothing. Finally everyone is dressed.
2 minutes to get yourself ready
You only have time to pull on yesterday’s jeans, a hoodie and to spray a bit of dry shampoo in your hair and bung it in a messy parent-bun.
You tell everyone that it’s ‘Messy-Hair-Don’t-Care.’ The truth is you do care, you’ve just lowered your standards drastically since becoming a parent.
The great Breakfast Debacle
You pour out different cereals into different coloured bowls so as not to upset fragile small people at this unearthly hour.
Child number one wants Shreddies in a blue bowl, child number two wants Cornflakes in a the yellow bowl.
They spend 10 minutes looking at their cereal before they can be persuaded to take a bite.
Your toddler cries because you cut the toast in triangles instead of squares.
Approximately 3087 bits of cereal end up on the floor. You’ll deal with them later.
Making packed lunches
With no time to eat breakfast yourself you speed around making packed lunches.
Your stomach heaves as you mix up tuna mayo at such an early hour.
You scramble about looking for fruit that doesn’t need cutting and any biscuits that are left.
Household chore multi-tasking
While whizzing around doing breakfast/lunches you also start the dishwasher, bung a load of laundry in the washing machine and sweep up a pile of recycling to take out to the bins.
You throw two baby wipes on the floor and skate about to mop it.
You do a quick stock take of the fridge and freezer and work out what you need to pick up from the shops on your way back from the school run.
Microwaving your cup of coffee
You whiz your cuppa in the microwave and take two sips.
Getting everyone dressed (again)
In the 2 minutes you took to drink a sip of coffee your eldest child managed to spill milk all over her school jumper.
Your toddler is now completely naked, running round the table with pants on his head.
You coax everyone back into clothes.
Nagging everyone to brush their teeth
Sigh. This one’s hard.
You’ve read all the tips for cheering your kids along to get them to brush but time’s ticking on and you really just need to get this task done.
You pop on a cheery tune and bop along as you do exaggerated brushing yourself and your kids do a half-hearted attempt.
Last minute school form
Your eldest suddenly remembers that you are supposed to have filled in a school form that is due in today.
You frantically search around to find a pen that works and fill in the form.
Then raid the kids’ piggy banks to find the £3.50 you need to include.
When you pop the form in your child’s school bag you find another abandoned letter breezily announcing that tomorrow is ‘Dress as a Roald Dahl character day’ and another asking for donations of home baking the day after.
You want to sink to the floor and give up trying to keep up.
Microwave your coffee – again
You need parent-fuel and so you bung your cup of coffee back in the microwave.
By now it has a film across the top and is looking less appealing. But you NEED caffeine.
Coats and shoes
You feel like you’ve been awake for hours and have carried out more tasks than Hercules but finally all the kids are fed and watered and dressed and you’re almost ready to leave the house.
You just need coats (easy) and shoes. But one child has only one shoe.
You ask ‘Where’s your other shoe?’. There begins an almighty hunt. Where the hell is it? How can a shoe go missing?
After 7 frantic minutes you find the missing shoe under a pile of clobber in the corner of the hall.
Check nobody needs the loo
You’re almost there but you quickly ask if anyone needs the loo before you leave. Everyone says no.
Finally – time to leave the house
OK so you’re all sorted, everyone has everything they need for the day ahead and you can finally leave the house.
Coats on, shoes on, bags packed…Oh but your toddler announces they need a poo.
You park your other children by the front door and bark at them not to move a muscle and take your toddler to the loo.
Seven minutes later…
Your toddler’s urgent need to go turned out to be not that urgent.
They sat on the throne for ages while you frantically checked your watch and tried to appear patient.
C’mon, c’mon…how long can it take?
After seven long minutes your toddler breezily announces that they just needed a fart. You try not to swear out loud.
OK. Let’s go!
You’re now REALLY late but you’re all set to go.
On your way out the door your middle child announces that they have remembered they were supposed to practise their tricky words for the test today.
And they haven’t got their jotter. You head back inside for a frantic search for the missing jotter.
You’re just going to have to do some last minute swotting up on spellings on the way to school.
A quick sip of coffee
You’ve now wasted too much precious time and your nerves are so frayed that you swoop in for just one sip of coffee to smooth over the edges.
But it’s now stone cold. It’s all you can do to not spit it out.
OK let’s go. Again.
You bundle everyone up and swoop them out of the door. If you rush you’ll just about make it to school before the bell rings.
You hurtle everyone along as quickly as you can and make it just in time.
‘Fine, fine, fine, it’s all fine’
Another parent notices that you’re red faced and flustered and your kids look a bit miserable as you barrel into the school gates with a nano-second to spare before the bell goes.
They stop to ask how you are.
You reply with a wide smile: ‘Fine, fine. I’m completely fine’.
You’re not. You feel like you’ve run a marathon and it’s not even 9am.
But tomorrow morning will be better. Won’t it?