It’s that time again; the dreaded school run is nearly upon us. While many parents will be glad that their tiny tearaways will once again be someone else’s responsibility until 3:30pm each weekday, there’s the small matter of ferrying them to school in the first place.
A car can be a lonely place to be when you’re driving 5mph down the motorway knowing that you are partly responsible for early morning traffic chaos returning to roads across the land. Meanwhile your kids are bouncing around in the back seats like Tigger on a sugar rush.
Add to this the fact that, while you will no doubt be ensuring that your child looks immaculate in their uniform (despite the fact that it was covered in jam all but one hour prior), you will rarely have the time to live up to similar standards yourself and will most likely be greeting rival parents looking like something that crawled out of a swamp.
Yes, the school run poses its own unique set of motoring challenges, most of which are unlikely to be addressed by Jeremy Clarkson.
You only have to type in school run on the many online forums to see how intrinsic the subject is to the psyche of the modern day parent, with a huge amount of advice available on how to get your little ones to the school gates without having a breakdown.
Here are but a few highlights. I apologise to any frustrated parents out there for which some of these may seem a little obvious. However, for those that have children starting school for the first time, this stuff could be golden.
- Put the clocks forward ten minutes to help your kids get a move on.
- Make and freeze a mammoth load of sandwiches with various fillings along with a piece of kitchen roll, so they don’t go soggy when they’re defrosting.
- Use bribery. (Eg, The child who behaves best in the car gets first go on the Playstation when they get home).
- Keep breakfast things in low cupboards, so children can help themselves/set the table.
Sound advice I’m sure you’ll agree. However, some of the pointers on these sites do seem a little extreme, either that or they illustrate just how far some parents are prepared to go to ensure their kids arrive on time. These include:
- If your kids absolutely won’t get dressed, threaten to put them in the car in their pyjamas and get them dressed outside school in front of their friends.
- Put them to bed in their uniform and send them to breakfast club at school.
- Don’t have more than one child.
Though it is clear that much of this chaos can’t be averted, one thing that can make the school run that bit more bearable is your chosen mode of transport.
Manufacturers have been hard at work catering to the family market over recent years, with roomier and safer cars helping to inject a bit of calm into the most stressful of early morning drives.
There are few brands that don’t feature a family 4X4, SUV or MPV in their range, while many have heavily invested in developing family friendly cross overs, which provide more room and comfort than your average hatchback.
The growing popularity of these cars is best illustrated by the fact that the Nissan Qashqai featured in the top 10 ten best selling cars of 2013, with the crossover threatening the position of some of the UK’s best-selling hatchbacks.
Other manufacturers that have responded include Kia with its impressive small SUV model the Sorento, which has undergone a number of refinements over recent years, with the latest update due next year such is the importance Kia has placed on the family market.
At the more affordable end of the spectrum, the Dacia Duster has been turning heads among motoring journalists and, with a starting price of £9,495, promises to become a more regular feature on the school run.
With other brands busy updating their current offerings, including the family friendly and extremely economic Toyota Prius and Hyundai’s all-new ix35 SUV, the school could be about to get a little less stressful.
For fantastic deals on a range of family cars, including Nissan, Dacia, Toyota and Hyundai models, visit www.drivebenfield.com.
Now haven’t you got pack lunches to sort out?