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As children return to school after the six-week summer break, many parents must once again add the dreaded school run to their daily to-do list. Dropping the kids at the school gate is a thankless task few of us enjoy, and it’s made more demanding by the dreary winter weather.

But before you go sobbing into the steering wheel on a wet Monday morning, there are a few things that can make the school run more bearable – even enjoyable.

Here, we provide a complete guide to surviving the school run:

Get Organised Before You Go

Parents who’ve endured the school run for a year or more will agree that being organised is the key to a smooth, hassle-free school run. In the pre-8.30 am chaos, the smallest jobs can eat into your precious commuting time – making the dash to school that bit more stressful.

Nigel, AKA DIY Daddy, is one such parent who knows that getting organised before you reach for the car keys is the trick to a stress-free (ish) commute with the kids. Here, Nigel shares his tips for getting organised for the morning school run:

“Between the hours of 7.30 am and 8.30 am on a school day, our home can be chaotic. This is down to the fact that we’re about to enter the toughest part of the school week. Yes, it’s the school run! You either dread it or love it.

“You can, of course, love it with just a little bit of pre-planning and organisation the night or morning before. Here are my top two tips for getting organised ahead of the daily school run:

  1. I have always found that if your children have packed lunches for school, preparing it the night before means in the morning all you have to do is whip it out of the fridge and into your kids’ rucksacks ready to go.
  2. My twins are five years old and I lay their uniforms out on the end of their beds the night before and this is the important part for me, I start telling them to put their uniforms on from about 7.45am. That way by 8.30am they should be ready to go.”

There are other things you can do to get organised for the big departure too, like making sure the car is topped up with fuel the night before. Even the smallest things, such as getting the car out the garage 10 minutes before you’re due to load the kids in, can make all the difference to your commute – so think ahead and get organised to stand the best chance of a stress-free journey.

Keep Your Car Clean, Tidy, and Topped Up

Like any well-oiled machine, your car should be kept in tip-top condition to reduce stress during the school run. If you and the kids find yourself swimming in litter and unable to find the rear seatbelts for clutter, it’ll only add to the stress of your morning – and could hamper safety, too.

There are lots of things you can do to make your car a lean, mean, school run machine, starting with topping up the screenwash reservoir, ready to combat annoying sun dazzle on those hazy winter mornings. Keeping the interior tidy will help improve your mood, while an air freshener will create a relaxing environment – so you can breathe a little easier when the kids start squabbling, or you’re stuck in a mile-long tailback minutes from the school gate.

If you want to be ready for any eventuality when ferrying the kids to and from school, take a look at our list of essential items to keep in your car – perfect for the organised mum or dad on the move.

Know Your Route – And Where to Park

Before your child starts a new school, you should do at least one dummy run to the gates to make sure there are no hiccups on their first day. Not only will this clear up any worries you have about taking a wrong turn, it’ll show you where the traffic hotspots are, and give you time to plan an alternative route to avoid potential queues.

Regardless of how well you think you know the way to the school gates, we’d recommend carrying a sat nav in case of unexpected road closures or stop-start traffic. A sat nav which suggests quieter routes can be a godsend on mornings when the world seems against you, and there’s a sea of brake lights between you and the school gate.

Also, get to know the area around the school so you know where it is safe and permitted to park. If your child’s school is in a built-up area with no parent drop-off point, things can get messy during the school run, with space at a premium. If necessary, drop your kids off a few streets away to save yourself the hassle of finding a space. A short stroll into school is not only good for their street cred, but means you can escape the fray before things get ugly – which they so often do.

Stay Calm and Collected

One of the cardinal rules of the school run is to keep your cool, even in the thick of a face-off with a fellow parent who’s vying for the same parking spot. With roads busy with commuter traffic and the air of urgency associated with getting the kids to school in time, staying calm at the wheel is easier said than done during a hectic school run. But stay calm you must, or you risk upsetting the kids, and potentially putting their lives at risk with a reckless and impulsive decision.

By following our advice on getting organised and having an alternate route to hand, there’s no reason the school run should be all that stressful. Plan ahead, switch off your phone, keep your distance from irate commuters, and listen to some soothing music to keep yourself calm and the kids safe during the school run. And if all that fails, keep in mind the potentially devastating consequences of losing your cool at the wheel.

Whether you’re a dedicated dad dropping the little ones off at school or a hardened commuter racking up miles on the motorway, our products make light work of keeping your car clean come rain or shine. For more information, visit the Simoniz homepage.