Does it matter if your kids are late for school?
I am practically phobic about being late so my kids are often the first through the school gates in the morning but I've got friends whose kids are perpetually late for school, and every morning without fail we see kids being dragged in the direction of the school by manic mothers long after the bell has rung.
But is being late for school really that big a deal?
"Yes," says mum of one, Bethany, emphatically. "My son is never late and my mornings are carried out with military precision. I despair of parents who are regularly late - there's no need for it. Time keeping is a very important life skill. Being late is rude and inconsiderate."
Mother of three, Eve, agrees that it's rude to be late, and says running late turns her into a horrible person. "For everyone's safety it's better if I stick to a tight schedule."
Helen Biscoe-Taylor says it depends on all sorts of things from the way you cope with being late to the kind of school your child attends. Helen is a psychotherapist and one of the team behind the pioneering parenting workshops Babiesknow.
"If you find yourself late then don't stress about it or everyone will start the day badly," she says.
So how can you avoid the stress-fest that is running late for school?
"Phone the school and say you are going to be late and then get on with getting there calmly. Set your intention to being on time in as stress-free way as possible. It would create a tension between the school and parent if you were often late, and could also be difficult for the child."
But perhaps the challenge of being on time is directly proportional to the number of children you have? Mum of four, Jude, lives within 200 yards of the school gate but is often running late. "I know it's rubbish and inexcusable but with the best will in the world it is not always possible to manage. It only takes one of the children to have a meltdown and the whole day starts in disaster."
Lisa, a mother of three, agrees. "I really struggle to get them all out the door on time most days. If my husband didn't lend a hand, I'd be screwed."
In contrast, Tamsin blames her husband for her daughter's late days. "I hate being late. When it's my turn to do the school run I do the dishes, make lunch and get my daughter scrubbed, fed, watered and dressed before I make coffee and ease into the day. But when my husband's in charge it's chaos. He gets on his gadgets, panics at the last minute and then she's always late."
Mum of three, Colette, holds her hands up to being a poor time-keeper but wonders if it really matters that much. "They're late nine times out of 10," she admits but adds "They still manage to pass all their exams though so it can't be too traumatising for them!"
For the last word on being late for school I asked the opinion of a former head teacher:
"Imagine skipping the get-to-know-you coffee and walking in halfway through a briefing session at work about the team plan for the quarter ahead. You're forever behind, not quite sure what you don't know, uncertain as to exact expectations, and have that nagging sense that you are missing that one vital piece of information required to complete your task successfully. Arriving late at school is a little bit like that.
"You just know you've missed something but you're not quite sure what. You have to rely on classmates to keep you right and you have that awful 'left out' feeling. Much better to be there and be part of the class learning team from the first minute of the day, ready and prepared for what lies ahead. The fear of not knowing what is going to happen after PE, the dread that can arise from having missed the introduction to the lesson - they can be awful and can blight the day.
"So set the alarm, prep the clothes and the lunch boxes, fuel the car, do whatever it takes to GET THE KIDS TO SCHOOL ON TIME!"
Are you a good school time keeper? Or always running a bit late?