When I buy pyjamas, I choose them with one thing in mind. No, not bedroom appeal, comfort, or even whether or not they can be bunged in the tumble drier. My only requirement is thus: Can they pass for 'leisure wear' on the school run.
Whilst I would never step out of the front door in anything with sheep, love hearts, cows jumping over the moon or cutesy slogans on, I am not opposed to nipping up the school in my plain black jersey pjs with my winter coat on top. Note: always my winter coat on top (be it July or February).
And whilst I've been doing this for many years (I recall dropping a boyfriend off at the station in my NIGHTIE some twenty years ago. And that was one bought for bedroom appeal) who knew the notion of nightwear as day-wear would become such a hot topic?
Earlier this year one headmaster, Joe McGuinness, was all over the tabloids after he banned parents (though let's be frank here, it's always mums, isn't it? Has anyone EVER seen a dad at the school gate in his stripey pjs and slippers? No) from collecting or picking up their children in their nightwear. He branded it 'slovenly and rude'.
Then some branches of Tesco caused similar uproar by outlawing pyjama-clad shoppers from its aisles. And just as with the Mr McGuinness story, the million and one features about this outrage were lavishly illustrated with women in pastel hued nightwear bearing all manner of cute lil rodents, farmyard beasts and rabbits with love hearts coming out of their heads. Which let's be fair, are just unnecessary in any situation, be that sleeping or nipping out for a pint of milk.
My reasons for going to school in my pjs fall into neither the slovenly or rude camp. I can be both, and often am – but when I step out in my 'jamas on a school morning it is usually for one reason only: lateness.
By the time I've got my son ready, and I've dealt with whatever other emergency or trauma has decided to befall us (urgent work enquires, power cuts, birds stuck in the chimney and elderly neighbours needing assistance only ever happen before 8am in my house) I have no time to don anything other than my coat and a pair of fit-flops. Stylish it ain't. Practical, it is.
Not all of my friends are very approving though...
"I always make an effort," sniffs mum-of-two Trudy, "It's the one time of day that people tend to see me. I always, always wear make-up and usually scrub up a bit generally, unless I'm in sports kit and increasingly that is having to pass muster, too - the ancient shiny tracksuit bottoms with loops on the feet are gradually being replaced with Superdry trackies and the like. And before I leave my teenage son does a split second style check just to be sure all is in order – he clearly doesn't trust me 100%."
"Pyjamas!" squeals mum-of-one Jo. "No way. I always stick to my policy of trying to be "fashion forward" (ha!) at all times. I'm rarely made up, but I have been to pick up El in all sorts - jumpsuits, play suits, thigh-length boots, maxi dresses, aviator jacket - whatever. I make a special effort for PTA meetings and socials. I remember once doing the bar with really extra specially big hair (a la Cheryl Cole ) and a sequin mini - the dads loved it."
So do most mums dress for everyone else's benefit at school? Am I really the only one who doesn't care?*
"I sometimes think I've missed the memo about school-gate attire when some of the mums turn up in bodycon dresses and sky high heels," says Camille, "But I did spend a year feeling thoroughly dreadful when I didn't have any money coming in and I didn't feel my clothes were very stylish. I try to make an effort (I'm always clean at least!) and I would never, ever do the run in joggers or PJs. I'm mostly a smart jacket and jeans mum though. But I would love to make more of an effort, even if it's more for me than for them. I'm also a bit worried of being laughed at, I guess it's a lasting effect from being a school kid. I'm also very careful about complimenting mums. I said to one mum that she looked really lovely today (she did) and the reply was, so I do normally look awful then? God!"
"The school-gate can be SO competitive," sighs mum-of-three Mandy, "Every morning I see a certain group of 'catwalk mums' checking each other – and everyone else – out, their eyes literally going from head to toe, then either raising their eyebrows or having a little sneer. It is horrible. I refuse to buy into it. Some days I pitch up in my pyjamas and coat, other days I'll be in a full face of make up, expensive suit, tights and heels. And frankly, what other people think of that is entirely up to them. I simply do not care."
Oh, how I agree. Well. Kind of. If you spotted my asterisk above, here's the qualifier:
*Morning runs only. It's three inches of slap, straightened hair and 'proper' clothes on the pm run. Not even I could come up with a valid excuse to work the pj look at four in the afternoon...
More school run articles on Parentdish
What do you think?
Do you ever do the school run in your nightwear?
Or do you always make the effort to dress up for drop off and collection?