Everything you need to know to make the school run as smooth and stress-free as possible

Anyone who has attempted the school run in the past knows how difficult it can be.

From waking the kids up and sorting breakfast to making sure bags are packed, lunches are made and everyone is in the car on time, school mornings bring their own special sort of stress.

But there is hope – there are many small changes you can make to help life become that little bit easier.

We’ve pulled together the ultimate guide to the school run for parents, with all the tips you need to make school mornings an absolute breeze. 

School run tips and advice for parents

Fuel up in advance

For most of us, life is about convenience.

If the fuel station is on the way to school, it can seem a no brainer to fill up on the way. But a pitstop is only going to add time to your journey, and it’s another thing to remember on top of the endless things to remember.

Do your future self a favour and fill up in advance (or on the way home from school).

You’ll have one less thing to remember on a school morning, and if you’re running a little late, the fuel gauge won’t be adding to the stress. 

Make sure your car is clean and well looked after

Mess creates stress.

If the inside of your car is littered with toys, snacks and other unnecessary items, you’ll be ruining the morning’s calm before it’s even started.

To keep a sense of zen, make sure to not only keep on top of your car’s cleanliness, but also make sure it’s in good working order. Adding a maintenance package to your car lease can help spread the cost of those little extras, and give you the peace of mind that your car is always ready when you are.

With a clean and well-maintained car, you'll be in the best position to get to school without a breakdown. 

Either you, or the car.

Know your route to school

Know your route

If you’re new to the area or your kids have switched schools, you might not be that familiar with the route.

To prep yourself for first-day back success, familiarise yourself with the school run ahead of time so that come Monday morning, you’re not lost down a back road with the clock ticking down to 9am.

Sabina, from the family lifestyle blog Mummy Matters, shared with us that practice trips also help in other ways.

“If it’s your child’s first year at school, do a couple of dry runs before the big day. See how long it takes you to get ready for school and walk/drive so that you know exactly how much time you need.”

Check road closures the night before

There is nothing that incites fury quite as much as being in a rush and coming across a road closure.

While you can’t change a closure, you can make sure you’re prepared for a diversion by checking the night before. That way, if there is an issue, you can plan an alternate route and factor in any additional time it’ll take.

Sarah, from the family, food, and lifestyle blog Life in Full Flavour, shared this with us as her top tip for a successful school run: “Make sure you know of any alternative routes in case there are any problems on your usual way. You might even find a new shortcut with a bit of exploring! It’s also worth taking the time to look at different parking spots nearby, as it can be hard to guarantee you’ll always get a decent place unless you know where to head.”

Get children to put things in their place after school

Prep the night before

Half the morning battle is locating the schoolbooks, bags, shoes and uniforms your kids need each morning.

Make this process much easier by prepping the night before.

When your kids get home, make sure they put all their bits in the right place straightaway. Shoes on the rack, books in the bag, bags on the hook – if everything has a place, and everything is in its place, you’ll avoid the ‘I can’t find it!’ in the morning.

While you can’t avoid every headache (asking for their food tech ingredients five minutes before you need to leave), you can give yourself a fighting chance.

Utilising your evening wisely can also make sure that not only are the kids prepared for the day ahead, but so are you.

Hannah from the family blog Han Plans says: “Consider getting the breakfast things out on the kitchen table the night before, including cutlery, plates, and even cereal. In my grandma’s house, she’d set the table with breakfast so that in the morning it was all ready to go.”

Like Claire, from the lifestyle blog Life, Love and Dirty Dishes, tells us, you can also prep lunches, pack school bags and lay out the uniform the night before, so you and the kids are raring to go the minute you wake up in the morning.

Protect your windscreen from frost

Cold mornings can add time to your normal routine when the windscreen needs defrosting.

Rachel, from the lifestyle blog Home in the Pastures, gave us her best tips for avoiding a frozen windscreen: “In the winter, cover the windscreen the night before if it’s frosty. Otherwise, you’ll be late for the school run defrosting your car, and the kids will be getting cold. Alternatively, pop outside and do the de-icing while the kids are eating breakfast and getting ready.”

Prepare the night before

Use calendars and planners

A parent’s life is chock-a-block with date and things to remember, especially when it comes to school.

From homework to school fairs to non-uniform days, it can be tricky to keep on top of it all. A big calendar hung where everyone can see it, marked with all the important dates can help eliminate the stress of realising you’ve forgotten something, and help make sure your kids have everything they need each day.

Maintain a strict bedtime routine

You’ll be fighting a losing battle if your kids aren’t well-rested in the first place.

Maintaining a strict bedtime routine on school nights can be a life saver, allowing your kids to get a restful night and plenty of good sleep, making the wake up in the morning easier for everyone involved.

Kellie from the blog Prize Warriors says: “Kid’s routines don’t need to be fancy, they just need to be a series of familiar steps repeated daily before bed. This could be as simple as brushing teeth, having a hug and turning off the lights.

“For young children, equally important to the routine itself, is having a set bedtime. Getting the right amount of sleep is essential to a child’s growth and development and has a tremendous impact on their behaviour.”

Make sure you are up before the children

Teach your kids how to get themselves ready

At the end of the day, you’ve only got two hands.

By teaching your kids the basics of getting themselves ready in the morning, even if that’s just putting their uniforms in an easy place and letting them get themselves dressed, it gives you one less thing to worry about.

Older kids can be much more self-sufficient too, and even get their own breakfast ready (with a little pre-preparing), which leaves you more room to sort out any younger children.

Make a ‘no screens in the morning’ rule

Distractions are the bane of any parents’ life when you’re trying to wrangle the kids into their uniforms and out of the door.

Claire, from Life, Love and Dirty Dishes, shared with us: “We have a rule in our house of no tech before school, and the TV doesn’t go on unless everyone is up, washed, dressed and fed.”

It’ll be nigh on impossible to get everyone out of the door and in the car on time if you’re trying to contend for their attention with Bluey in the background. Making the rule early on and sticking to it will make sure everyone knows where they stand in the morning – and that the TV is an after-school activity only.

Leave for school before it is necessary

Give yourselves some buffer time

No matter how long it takes, give yourself an extra 10 minutes or so for the journey.

You never know when you might come up against some bad traffic, or an interesting snail to point at. A little extra time gives you that extra breathing space, knowing you’re not going to be five minutes late to the school gate.

Remember to breathe

When all is said and done, remember to take a few deep breaths.

The stress of the school run can easily get the better of you if you let it, and your frustration can end up having a negative effect on your children.

If you’re calm during the morning, they’re likely to pick up on that and will be more likely to follow suit and listen to instructions.

By implementing these tips, you can relax, knowing you’ve done everything you can to make the school run a success.

The fun doesn't stop when the kids have gone back - find out how to prep your car for the autumn months

Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt

Sarah is the Head of Marketing and she's tasked with keeping the fantastic marketing team in line. She's probably the reason you've heard of us, and her wealth of marketing experience means that no challenge is too big.