The ultimate guide to the school run for parents

The ultimate guide to the school run for parents 

Anyone who has attempted the school run in the past knows how difficult it can be. From waking up the kids and sorting breakfast to making sure bags are packed and lunches are made - not to mention ensuring everyone gets in the car on time - school mornings can be occasions to dread for many a parent. However, it doesn’t have to be, and you can certainly make life easier for yourself in a number of ways.

If you are gearing up for your first school run or would like some tips for a more peaceful drive to school in your Land Rover lease, Volkswagen lease or Vauxhall car lease, this article is for you. We have put together the ultimate guide to the school run for parents, packed full of great tips and advice to make school mornings that much easier.

School run tips and advice for parents


Don’t fuel-up/get petrol on the way to school

For many of us, life is about convenience. So if we can fill up the car with fuel on the way to dropping the kids off at school then that’s a plus. However, a pitstop like this is only going to add on time to your morning journey and one more thing to remember to do. A successful school run is all about managing your time and eliminating stress. So, do yourself a favour and fill up your car after dropping the kids off, on your way home from work, or even after picking the kids up. This way, you will have one less thing to worry about in the morning and a much simpler school run.

Make sure your car is clean and well looked after

Mess creates stress and a successful school run means eliminating stress wherever possible. So, if the inside of your car is littered with toys, food, and unnecessary items, you will not only provide your kids with annoying distractions, but your sense of calm can be impacted too. So, make sure to keep on top of your car’s cleanliness and also ensure it is in good working order. The last thing you want is something to break or go wrong when trying to shepherd your kids to school. Checking the likes of tyres, oil levels, and windscreen washer fluid will all be good moves to make.

Know your route to school

Know your route to school

If you are new to your area or perhaps are taking your kids to school for the first time, you might not be all that familiar with the route you need to take. Struggling with directions and getting lost is certainly not going to help make the school run a peaceful occasion. To combat this, familiarise yourself with the route to your child’s school. On a weekend, get in the car by yourself to learn the directions and the best route to take. This way your drive to school in the morning will have one less obstacle to overcome.

Sabina, from the family lifestyle blog Mummy Matters, shared with us that doing some practice trips can help in other ways too: “If it's your child's first year at school then do a couple of 'dry runs' before the big first day. See how long it will take you to get ready for school and walk/drive so that you know exactly how much time you need once the big day arrives.”

Check road closures the night before

There is nothing more annoying than being in a rush and coming across a road closure. While you can never eliminate these things entirely, you can push things in your favour by at least checking for road closures along your school route the night before. This way, if there is an issue, you plan an alternative route and factor in any necessary extra time it will take to get there.

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: “To give you a helping hand on the school run, make sure you know of 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 is also worth taking the time to look at different parking spots nearby, as it can be hard to guarantee you will always get a decent place unless you know where to head to.”

So, before heading off for bed, check the local news and pop online, you might be glad you did! You can’t avoid every headache, but you can give yourself a fighting chance.

Get children to put things in their place after school

Get children to put things in their place after school

Half the battle when it comes to the school run is locating the schoolbooks, bags, shoes and uniforms your kids need each morning. Well, you can make this process a lot easier by knowing where everything is. When your kids get home from school, get them to put their things in place right away. Shoes go on the shoe rack, books go in the book bag, bags have their own special place etc. If everything has its proper place in your home and putting school stuff away becomes a part of your child’s routine after school, there will be much less running around in the morning.

Protect your windscreen from frost

One thing that will certainly slow you down come morning time is getting to the car with the kids and realising that your windscreen is frozen over due to cold temperatures. Rachel from the home lifestyle blog Home in the Pastures, spoke to us about her school run tips, suggesting that doing what you can to avoid this eventuality will be a smart move:

“My top tip for the school run is in the winter to cover the windscreen the night before if it's frosty. Otherwise, you will be late for the school run defrosting your car, and the kids will be getting cold in the car while it's heating up. Alternatively, pop outside and do the de-icing while the kids are eating breakfast and getting ready.”

Utilise calendars and planners

The life of a parent is full of various dates and things to remember, especially when it comes to school. From homework assignments and charity events to non-school uniform days, it can be tough to keep on top of it all. But by being organised and utilising a calendar, you can check the day before what each child needs to bring to school and eliminate the stress and panic of realising you have forgotten something or someone can’t find that school library book that is due for return. Pin a calendar up on your kitchen wall or utilise reminders on your phone’s app, crossing off yet another potential school morning hiccup.

Prepare the night before

Prepare the night before

The night before a new school day is the most useful time available to a parent. By utilising evenings wisely, you can get you and your kids ahead of the game and make mornings far more manageable.

Hannah from the family blog Han Plans, shared with us the following advice, saying that utilising the night before school is key for parents: “My tip is to make sure everything is ready the night before - this gives you time to organise the missing pieces if needed.” As an example, Hannah suggests:

“Consider getting the breakfast things out on the kitchen table the night before (like bowls, spoons, plates etc) maybe even the box of cereal and make sure the bread is to hand. In my Grandma’s house, she’d set the kitchen table with all the breakfast things so that in the morning it was all ready to go pretty much within an arm’s length.”

Claire, from the lifestyle blog Life, Love and Dirty Dishes, agrees that preparation is very important and suggests another thing that can be accomplished the previous evening: “I think the key to getting out the door in the morning is being organised. Our bags are normally packed and ready the night before.”

Tasks that parents can check off before school can include:

  • Laying the table for breakfast
  • Making lunches and putting them in the fridge
  • Get school bags packed and put away in the car
  • Lay out school clothes ready for your children

Maintain a strict bedtime routine

You will never create a peaceful school morning routine and stress-free school run if your kids aren’t up in time and well-rested. In order to help facilitate this, maintain a strict bedtime routine with your children. Set firm times where each child must be in bed and lights off. If your child is up at erratic hours, their sleep cycle will suffer, meaning they wake up late and cranky. But with a consistent routine with regular healthy sleep, getting up in time for school will be that much easier.

Speaking to us about how key a strict bedtime routine is for children, the benefits it can have, and some tips for making it happen, mum Kellie from the blog Prize Warriors says:

“Most people's lives are, at least to a loose degree, based on routines. We all live on different schedules, but everybody needs a fairly regular sleep pattern to remain healthy, it's human nature. If this type of routine is established in early childhood, then the child will have an easier transition into adult life. Kid's routines need not 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 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. It also has a tremendous impact on their behaviour, for two reasons. Firstly, routine and structure help to instil discipline in children. I'm not suggesting parents should act like a drill sergeant, but I guarantee that knowing when their bedtime is will help teach them to follow rules more easily. Secondly, we all know that children can turn into little monsters when they're tired. Not allowing them to enter 'the witching hour' by ensuring a regular and early bedtime routine is a sure-fire way to a better-behaved child.”

Further still, if all involved know that X pm is bedtime, and it is the same every night, complaints will be limited, and your own evening will be far more relaxing – something much needed for your wellbeing come morning time. 

Make sure you are up before the children

Make sure you are up before the children

Getting yourself up and about well before your children will be another important tool in your school run arsenal. By setting your alarm nice and early you can do all your morning chores without having to wrestle with the kids at the same time. This can include getting breakfast ready and also enjoying a nice long shower, having a relaxing cup of coffee, or watch the morning news. This way, when the children get up you will be able to focus entirely on them as everything else will already be taken care of.

Teach the kids how to get themselves ready in the morning

At the end of the day, you only have so many hands and every parent needs a little help. By teaching your kids how to get themselves ready each morning, even something as simple as locating their uniforms and getting dressed, you will have one less thing to worry about. Even if it’s just the oldest child sorting themselves out, you can at least focus on the youngest of your brood.  Let them know what is expected of them and give them a trial run. Handing out responsibility to a child is never a bad thing for their development and if it makes the school run more manageable for you, then all the better.

Make a rule about no TV in the morning

Distractions are everywhere for children and distractions are the bane of parenting life when it comes to school mornings. 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 will be next to impossible to get your kids out of the door and in the car on time if you are having to contend for their attention with the TV. So, make it clear to them that TV is not a morning hobby, that this is an after-school activity and the mornings are simply for getting ready for school. You might come across some opposition at first but if you start this rule young and remain consistent, your child will soon grow accustomed to your desired morning routine.

Leave for school before it is necessary

Leave for school before it is necessary

No matter how long it takes you to drive to school, a helpful tip for any parent is to allow an extra 10 minutes than needed. If your journey takes 10 minutes and school starts at 9am, don’t leave at 8.50am, make sure everyone is in the car at 8.40am. This way you can account for any last-minute surprises on your drive such as bad traffic. Also, by letting the kids know that everyone needs to be in the car 10 minutes before they really need to be if you happen to be running late that morning, it’s not going to be the end of the world. Kids arriving at school 10 minutes earlier than normal isn’t going to be an issue and it’s certainly better than getting there five minutes late!

Claire from Life, Love and Dirty Dishes knows how helpful allowing for extra time to get to school can be, even when school is very close by: “The school run itself is always open to crisis. It's a five-minute walk for us. Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes my youngest decides to run and we make it in two! Other days there are trips, dog poo incidents, snails to stop and look at and it can take 15 minutes. Always allow extra time for those unforeseen things, then you don't have to stress about being late. Plus, when you are early, the kids get to burn off some energy in the playground before they go into class.”

Encourage good car behaviour

Even if you manage to get everyone ready and in the car on time, your school run serenity can be dismantled by children misbehaving in the back seat, fidgeting, messing around, fighting, yelling etc. While kids will inevitably be kids, you can try to encourage good car behaviour. Teach them from a young age that the car isn’t a play area and that you expect them to behave. A reward for peace and quiet on the ride to school can even be offered, such as sweets on the weekend or that they get to choose the next movie for family film night.

Remember to breathe

Finally, once everything else is said and done, please parents, remember to breathe. The stress of the school run can easily get the better of you if you let it, and any frustration you show can end up having a negative effect on your children. If you are calm during the mornings, the children will pick up on that and will be more likely to follow suit. By implementing the tips and advice above, you can relax in knowing you have done everything you can to make the school run a success.


Tips for peaceful school mornings and a successful school run


  • Don’t fuel-up/get petrol on the way to school
  • Make sure your car is clean and well looked after
  • Know your route to school
  • Check road closures the night before
  • Get children to put things in their place after school
  • Protect your windscreen from frost
  • Utilise calendars and planners
  • Prepare the night before
  • Maintain a strict bedtime routine
  • Make sure you are up before the children
  • Teach the kids how to get themselves ready in the morning
  • Make a rule about no TV in the morning
  • Leave for school before it is necessary
  • Encourage good car behaviour
  • Remember to breathe

We hope the above advice has proven helpful. School mornings can be tricky, but these tips should hopefully go a long way to making the school run a success.

If you are finding that your family car isn’t up to scratch, we have lots of wonderful options available, including great Audi leasing deals, that would be perfect for your family’s school run.

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