A bone of contention for a large proportion of parents is the dreaded school run. A daily task that should be viewed as an opportunity to spend quality time with your offspring as you deliver them to a day of education, but instead often results in a stress filled drama for many of us. My memories of the school run as a child was strolling to my infant school with my Mum and big bro, playing word games, stopping to stroke cats and enjoying the relaxed walk to school. In reality, my poor Mum had the arduous task of trying to drag me up the road, avoiding every cat whilst maniacally guessing what animals begin with A to try to bring me nearer to the school gates.
Now I’m a Mum of three, the school run is one of my least favourite activities. With a sulky 9-year-old son who has to be surgically removed from his bed on a daily basis, my 5-year-old twins consisting of my son who insists on bringing a particular awkward Lego creation and a bouncy ball with him, whilst his twin sister will need to find the appropriate hairband, bracelet and flavoured lip balm before leaving the house. Furthermore, this treasure hunt of accompaniments takes place while I hurry to cram food into lunchboxes, beg my little darlings to finish their half eaten breakfasts and hunt for missing homework with a demented Labrador in the mix running off with school socks.
And it seems no matter what time I set my alarm, I always end playing the part of Tourette’s Mum screaming at my kids in a Drill Sergeant fashion in our crowded hallway with ten minutes to spare before the school bell rings. Our school is exactly a mile in distance from our house, I have walked it with the kids, however, we live at the bottom of a hill and by the time we make it to the top of our road the kids are too tired to finish the remaining half a mile. So, aware that I don’t want to become ‘one of those Mums’ who always drives their children the short distance to school, I drive halfway to eradicate the hill and then allow the children to scooter the remainder of the journey.
Our school is very keen to encourage parents to walk their kids to school to avoid the amount of traffic around school gates, to improve the children’s health and to aid the environment. I agree with this and hope my half a drive to school is a small effort in the right direction. Our school recently installed scooter pods (flashy bike sheds) in our school playground in a bid to achieve more on foot school runs. This is a good idea in theory but also means that I have had to invest in three bike locks with three different combinations which are impossible to remember and no matter how much my youngest son tries to pull them apart himself, I am left every afternoon in a James Bondesque situation trying to decipher their relevant codes.
The real challenge with the introduction of scooters on the school run is the last leg of the journey up to our school which is along what should be a relatively quiet residential street. However, many parents rather than finding easier routes to school will instead gridlock the street outside the school, park on the zigzags and double yellow lines to make their school run easier at the expense of the safety of others. Now, it’s not my style to attack other parents, I don’t wish to turn my blog into a Katie Hopkins troll fest, but the safety of my children funnily enough is close to my heart.
Each day the road outside our school is awash with cars dropping off their kids making it near impossible to cross the road sometimes with cars pulling up on the pavement while others are reversing onto it. Last week, one parent pulled onto the zigzags, sent her kids out of the car then left her passenger door wide open as she climbed onto the metal railings to see them go in. Surely, there is an easier way to take your children to school then to adopt the pose of a suffragette adorning the school gates. We occasionally have a ‘dalek’ parking warden car arrive to scare off the parent parkers, but this can instead cause chaos as parents rush to move their cars before their number plate is snapped and in turn putting more pedestrians at risk as they speed away.
According to the AXA RoadSafe schools report, more than 2,400 children under the age of 16 were killed or injured on Britain’s roads in 2011. And following a decline of road traffic accidents involving children in the 1980s it comes as a sobering read to see that the figures have started to rise again since 2011 with the highest rate of deaths in the under 8’s age group. It doesn’t help that since 2009/2010, the Governments’ budget for child road safety has dramatically fallen from £3.78 million to just £78,000 in the 2012/2013 financial year. It seems that Lollipop Ladies were on quite a tidy sum.
It’s a tricky subject to broach but honestly if you could see the chaos that ensues in my household every morning and my ability to deliver my children into school with literally seconds to spare without feeling the need to park outside the school. If I can manage to park a short distance away then I’m sure anyone can. Apart from robbing parents of the opportunity to do the school run in their pyjamas there can’t be that many advantages to parking outside rather than a street away.
Disclosure: All statistics within my blog are for information purposes, I have not been paid by AXA or any associated agency to discuss the Roadsafe venture. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity