We recently watched Big Little Lies again. We love it. Everything about it, from the way it shows no one’s life is perfect to how tough being a mom is, and all the tough-to-swallow topics it somehow manages to address in an “I can’t look away” type of way. But the thing that made it so darn relatable is the school drop off scenario. It’s the playground politics among the parents. It’s the deep breath you’ve got to take before arriving, the eggshells you’ve gotta walk on and that feeling (read: fact) you’ve probably (read: definitely) forgotten to do something you were meant to for your kid. That’s what made everything else in the show so believable.
Basically, there is way more emotional stress involved in the school run than we first realized, to the extent you might consider homeschooling. That’s why we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to make your drop offs and pick ups a thousand times less anxiety-ridden and, who knows, maybe even make it the part of the day you love most.
So, without further ado, here is a metaphorical backpack full of tips and trips. Sift through it, have a look and keep the ones that may come in handy:
The Early Bird Doesn’t Shout Expletives
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been sat at the back of a stupidly long cue, knees bouncing up and down is we try and stave off the stress of being late for a) school and b) work as you see a few of the alpha moms up ahead nattering away, their cars sat in the drop off lane. That’s the kind of little thing that will have you reaching for the horn and the window simultaneously as you late your frustrations bubble. Don’t let this happen. Instead, take a deep breath, accept stressing won’t help and then make a vow to leave earlier this day forward. Of course, getting in the car twenty minutes earlier relies heavily on your kids’ cooperation. But instead of raising your voice when they are late (no one wants to start a day by shouting, it’s the most guilt-ridden feeling ever), help them get organized the night before and lure them into the car with the promise of candy or something later. Us parents rely on tiny bribes.
Don’t Make Enemies. Be Organized.
Before you can start making friends with the other moms, you need to make sure you are not making enemies, which is easily done by being ‘that’ parent who creates a long queue because you can’t find your kids coats, unpacking and repacking the rucksacks, before trying to find some lunch money to handover. Being beeped in the drop-off line is one of the most flustering experiences in life. Escape this by being organized. Have everything packed and ready to roll so that you can keep your drop off experience to a matter of seconds. You want it to go: stop, kiss, some words of love, a quick word of advice, wink, bye. You’ll want to have this level of organization down if you’re picking them up and going straight onto an after-school activity. Oh, and always have snacks in the car. It will encourage them to leap in like young bucks and see them visit you more in old age.
School Style Is A Very Real Thing
Schools are a place of judgment and comparison for parents as much as children, which is why you need to up your first impression game and find a way to be super-duper-stylish. That’s something we learned from Big Little Lies in a matter of scenes. Being a mom means your anxious enough without people judging the way you look at whatnot. With that in mind, you need to make some adjustments, and the first one is the car you drive. This is the first impression you give off. It’s the accessory you’ll be inside when having a quick catch up with other moms, usually through your rolled down window. Now, choosing the kind of car that will be appreciated is hard. Too flashy and it will have a negative influence, but too bland and you may as well have kept your current car. The solution: a luxury hybrid. Period. Now we’ve covered this, you now need to work on your school gate style, which means having four or five outfits that are both casual and stylish. It’s not easy, but it is possible and it will revolutionize the confidence you possess – there’s no denying that.
Get Into The “Call Me Later” Habit
You’re dropping off / picking up your child when all of sudden you get that “ooooh” moment of seeing a teacher you wanted to catch up with about a homework assignment, or a mom who’s hosting a sleepover party next Friday, and the hard to track down PTA committee member that’s asked for help with the gala. It’s all too tempting, but you need to keep away from that door handle and tell yourself: now is not the time. That’s one of the ten commandments. Instead, get into the habit of saying, “can you call me later to chat about [insert topic here]”. If they don’t have your number, maybe get some cards printed so you can quickly hand that out, get your child in the back and drive off without a single eye roll from the cars behind.
Be The Good Samaritan If Possible
There is only one reason for abandoning your car that we can think of, and it comes with the added benefit of making friends at the school gates, which we all know is hard. Anyway, that something is holding open the door for fellow parents. You’ve probably been there yourself, trying to herd an unruly toddler to the car while carrying an inexplicably heavy car seat and baby in your arms, your slightly older kids getting bored in the back seats (because their iPod touch has run out of battery). So, if you spot another mom in this situation, save her from the feelings of embarrassment and tooting that comes with holding up the line by holding open a door or two for her. Schools can feel like a contest where survival is the only aim, but it’s not, and practicing this will make you soooo popular. That’s a promise.