Well, that flew by. It seems like only yesterday I was bemoaning my worries about the school run and meeting new parents. Luckily, despite my worries, I haven’t fallen over yet and only cried once – which is better than anticipated.
It’s amazing how quickly you become accustomed to new routines, and after a term and a quarter, the school run has already become habitual. Not a pleasurable habit, like eating something sweet after dinner or having ‘just one more’ drink. A necessary habit, like brushing your teeth or putting the bins out. Except this habit gets your child to the place which will play a huge part in shaping your child’s personality, which if I’m being honest I still find bloody petrifying.
Sonny still moans about going to school, but on the whole is pretty good about spending the day there. Apart from when we’re getting ready to leave and suddenly, putting on a magic show is ALL he can think about. And apparently, ‘wanna magic your shoes and socks on then sweetheart’ as a response to this overly ambitious morning demand is not acceptable.
The all-knowing alpha Mum
I know, it’s still early days. I am by no means a seasoned school Mum yet. I’ve met the experienced Mums who know everything. Literally everything. Even if it’s something new the school are trying out, they’ve heard the rumour about it and already have an opinion on its efficiency. I barely remember that pick up is 3.15 and am yet to master tieing a tie.
Along with identifying the alpha Mums, I’ve made some inroads into becoming a part of the school parents community. In so far as I’ve been harassed on Facebook for contributions to the PTA, invited via apps to school quizzes I don’t really want to attend and been privy to many an online and public discussion about lost jumpers and party RSVP’s. However, I am yet to find my ‘gang.’
We’re a funny bunch aren’t we – parents? We form cliques and packs almost instinctively, and ‘information’ shared in these packs quickly turns to gossip. I’ve heard it. I’ve waited for Sonny in the playground, with Bessie swinging around my legs, and witnessed Queen PTA telling minion PTA’s about the scandal over stationary. How Mrs X and Mr Y teach phonics one way and Miss Z just shoves ’em in front of the telly. How little Johnny is reading to level green, and being stuck on level red is unfair (internal monologue – ‘There are reading levels!?!?!”)
It takes all my resolve to point out to PTA gang that I’m pretty sure that all the teachers are working as hard as they can and this kind of gossip helps no one, but in all honesty, I’m scared of Queen PTA. She’s clad head to toe in Joules/ Boden and is expertly balancing 2 scooters and a bag full of crudités and hummus. Plus – she looks like she is harbouring some simmering anger and could rip my face off using only her fancy Tupperware.
Unlike the teachers, other parents aren’t named and shamed, but it’s clear that some do not meet the required acceptable standards. The smokers who stand over the road from the school gates are given copious amounts of shit-eye. The Mum who told the 8-year-old accompanying her at pick up – “No, you can’t have any more sweets until after KFC’ was eye rolled so aggressively, this particular group of sanctimummies must have some serious ocular damage.
Why are we so Judgy Judgerson about other parents? We are going to be on the school run carousel for the next 12 years, so instead of spending time looking around for the negative, we should be looking for the positive. I get why it’s tough. I often turn up after being berated for ten minutes about why a magic show after school is nowhere near as good as one before school, so my disposition isn’t always sunny. That said, wouldn’t it be easier if the playground was a place of acceptance and happiness rather than this bagload of whirl-whinge?
School run buddies
I wait in the playground every day, twice a day, but some parents use a variety of methods to drop off and pick up their children. I’ve met Childminders, Grandparents and siblings all doing the school run. However, something I’ve not encountered much of yet is parents sharing the school run with other parents.
Maybe we’re too early on in the academic year for people to entrust their cherubs to other parents who live locally. But it occurred to me the other day, maybe this would make for a more harmonious playground atmosphere?
A couple of months ago I noticed a fellow Twitter user called ‘School Run Buddy,’ and after a bit of research, I made contact to find out more. A project still in its infancy, the scheme is at present only operating in Bromley just outside of South London.
The premise is simple, parents who can and want to share the school run register online and once a bank of enough people has been established, connections are made. All involved will be given guidance on how to buddy safely, and once agreements are in place you can arrange your schedule to fit. Simple right? Simple and laden with benefits.
Maybe if we kicked off the year knowing who lived locally and could take the strain of the school run, we would be encouraged to get to know others instead of making snap judgements about them? It would be a bit like going to a wedding and being allocated a seat on a table of people you don’t really know but have common ground with. Awkward at first but eventually worth it. Especially if you need the numbers for a conga.
Although not available in my area yet, this is a service that could have changed my life. I gave up my job because we couldn’t afford childcare or after school clubs along with my commuting costs to London. Having moved house not too long ago – I don’t have any family and friends in the area, and so my only option was to take one for the team.
Using a service like this, not only would I have been able to find the balance I wanted, I would have some ready-made connections with parents locally – as would Sonny with his peers. As long as the necessary safety checks had been done, this would have been a perfect way to start school and integrate gently into the community.
I hope that the project gets the support they need to set up and roll it out across the country. In the meantime, let’s give projects such as School Run Buddy some support. Not only could they change your life, they could also have a huge impact on playground nonsense.
This post was inspired by the project and independently written (not sponsored or paid for). If you’re interested in the idea or live in Bromley, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.