The first thing that comes to mind with the onset of the new school year is dates.
Not romantic ones but academic ones.
I like to have the full list in front of me. Those first six weeks fly by - so it's good to be prepared right before the year begins for that first half-term in October. I then usually like to take days off that week and enjoy that time, especially as my son desperately needs to relax from all his efforts over these past few weeks and recharge.
I put the dates in the diary and work out when our fortnight break is going to be in the summer, as we have a zero policy on time away from school during term time, so we have to plan ahead! Don't forget those six INSET days when the school closes for Teacher Training and you are totally at the mercy of the Head.
Some Heads will cluster these together or plan them mid-week if you are unlucky. Cross your fingers for a conscientious Head who is accommodating and tags the days onto the beginning or end of a half-term break.
A new routine needs to develop after the long summer holidays, where in some cases Grandparents and other family members have helped out or dropped the children off at the childminder at a more relaxed pace.
Alarms are set, lunch bags packed and at the ready, and a long daily to-do list: It's time to embrace the term time routine. Being organised saves time! I always find that sorting out my child's clothes the night before, preparing his book bag with washed apples and making sure his football/dance kits are all primed and ready to go, is a big time saver.
Then in the morning, it's just a matter of making a sandwich and filling the water bottles! Getting my child to school and making friends with a couple of local Mum's is always a good idea and can mean someone to share the school trip with, either by car or usually the green way, on foot. Sharing these trips means that when I'm not doing the school run, I can head to the station early or buckle down at my computer.
Sometimes an early or late appointment comes up, which is why choosing a school with a great breakfast and after school club helps! This solution gives me peace of mind in the morning but also allows me flexibility in the evenings, as I have until 6pm to collect.
Knowing my child is in a fun environment appeases my guilt and helps me find the balance I require. As an added bonus, if work is a little quiet, I can surprise my child and collect him early. Unfortunately, he rarely wants to leave, which although is a little hard to swallow sometimes, is a good sign really...
Miranda, working mother of one