I love September. Ever since I was a child I've loved everything about it, from the seasonal excuse to splash out on new shoes and bags (even now September feels like new shoes month to me) to the distinctive autumnal crispness in the air.
But when my sons Edan, six, and Zack, four went back to school and nursery at the end of the summer holidays last year I was on the verge of falling out of love with September.
The year before my eldest started primary school, and I struggled with the transition from having two children at nursery and playgroup to having one who needed his uniform ironed, his PE kit at the ready, his homework done and his lunchbox packed.
The sudden need to assume responsibility for so many additional things first thing in the morning overwhelmed me. My son was also bewildered by all the new stuff he had to bring in or remember, and my daily nagging and berating him for leaving his coat or school bag in the kitchen didn't exactly help.
So last September I resolved to end the shout-fest that had become the school run, and after one too many post-9am return trips back to the house to fetch whatever he had forgotten I decided it was time to do something.
Which is why, on the inside of my front door (much to the amusement of anyone who visits our house) you'll find the The List - a detailed reminder of everything I must not forget to do before we set foot out of the house on our way to school. It goes like this:
Toast / Dinner Money
It's mostly self explanatory and the kisses and hugs are an extra reminder to dispatch my boys to school with a daily dose of affection - something I find all too easy to forget in the chaos that is the school run.
It's an idiot-proof list that serves to remind me of everything I need to do on school mornings - and it has made all the difference to our family life. I've barely had to raise my voice on school mornings since, and I don't think we've left anything behind all year except during the very last week of term, by which point we were all especially tired and forgetful.
The added bonus is that my sons are learning how to read The List for themselves, and can run through each item on it without any need for me to nag them through each step. And rather than collapsing in the car with my nerves frayed I now spring out of the door with a great smug sense of satisfaction at all the things we've ticked off The List.
Admittedly The List is a source of endless ridicule among my friends but they can mock me all they like. The List is fail-safe and since its inception I've never had to do one of those infuriating repeats of the school run to locate an errant item. I'd go so far as to say that I've got List-induced Zen, and that's a pretty priceless feeling at 8am on a Monday.
I heartily recommend drawing up your own version of The List and can practically guarantee it will make school mornings infinitely smoother. Just be prepared with a witty come-back for all the comments your friends are bound to make about it.
A tenner says they'll have their own version of The List before the school year draws to a close...'
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