Scootering and the School Run: 2013 365 Challenge #51

Glapthorn Road, Oundle in the sun (Photo by Peter Whatley)

Glapthorn Road, Oundle in the sun – but without the mass of scootering children! (Photo by Peter Whatley)

Another day when I’m glad of my deadline buffer. I normally write posts the night before but give myself until 10am the following morning. It’s currently 8am and I’ve only just opened my laptop. Gorgeous wonderful hubbie is downstairs feeding the children. I probably have thirty minutes before there is something urgent they have to ask mummy about… Best get on with it then!

The reason I didn’t start yesterday is because I had a day in the life of a Town Mum and by 8pm could neither stand, walk or speak I was so tired.

I’m used to driving the children everywhere because I live out in the sticks. I think I’m pretty fit but nothing tests your stamina like carrying a 14kg child for about a mile on the school run because he fell off his new scooter almost instantly and wouldn’t get back on. I think my left arm is twice the length of the right one now!

Scootering at the park is much easier than on the school run

Scootering at the park is much easier than on the school run

Thankfully when my wonderful daughter face-planted the pavement, after being flipped off her new scooter, and grazed her nose and chin she battled on bravely (after a most impressive screaming fit) and did the whole journey, dodging tree roots, uneven paving and about 100 other kids all spilling out from school, half of them also on Micro scooters.

I used to envy my friends for living in town but the school run was a whole new experience. And it was sunny and warm. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the snow and ice! Maybe I’ll stop dreaming up ways we can afford a house in town and stick to ferrying my kids around by car with trips to the park on the way home.

Actually the kids were amazing all day, and were suitably rewarded with ice cream and pizza for tea (in that order!) I ended up helping my friend with a piece of work on the computer for several hours while my two played with her daughter and they didn’t break anything. I found my (2 year-old) son tucked up in my friend’s bed with her daughter (she’s 4, same as Amber) and all they had done was tip water on the duvet. Given her make-up bag was right there it could have been much worse!

Spending too much time on social media and not enough with the kids...

Spending too much time on social media and not enough with the kids…

The only bit of the day that left me sad was reading a blog post by Allaboutmanners on how a working mum can stay present and focussed on her children rather than being distracted by technology all the time. I know I’m not getting the balance right at the moment. My kids are always telling me off for checking emails or “just doing this load of laundry” / “just feeding the dog” / “just running the hoover round”.

I used to get more chores done on nursery days (particularly when I had three days a week to do them) and now I feel they rarely get my undivided attention because there are always a zillion things that need doing. I read the blog post on my phone while watching the kids in my friend’s playroom so it caused the worst kind of guilt!

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since and the guilt has diminished a bit. I know I don’t have the balance right, but I also know it is very difficult to remain present for any length of time with toddlers and preschoolers unless that’s your vocation. If my children have my undivided attention they play up against each other, and there is always one that isn’t happy. If I drift off and do work sometimes they moan but sometimes they go and play beautifully together, like they did at my friend’s house yesterday. I may not always make them feel the most special beings in the universe but I do teach them that the world doesn’t always revolve around them and to find their own entertainment. Weighed up in the balance I feel it’s better than an artificial life of either 5-day-nursery-care or 5-day-Mummy-attention. Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it! 🙂

Ooh, it’s 8.29am, look at all my waffle. I’d better find out where I left Claire and move her on to her next challenge, whilst also trying to ignore the crying and screaming downstairs….


Claire looked round towards the door at the sound of voices approaching the hostel. She knew that no one she wanted to see was likely to walk in and still she looked. Just because I’m still in the Lakes doesn’t mean he’s going to turn up. There must be at least twenty hostels in Cumbria and, besides, this isn’t Casablanca.

She turned back to the iPad and concentrated on finding something interesting to say about John Ruskin her trip to Brantwood

I can’t really put ‘bumped into catty old school friend in the most random place today and it turns out she hated me as much as I hated her. Isn’t life funny?’

What else to write though? It was hardly a high-adrenalin activity wandering round a museum or supping a latte in the café.

If I’m going to keep my job I need blog traffic. I can’t give Carl an excuse to call this venture a failure. She thought about making up an adventure but knew she’d get found out in a heartbeat. There might be only ten people following my blog but if I say I walked Striding Edge this morning and I didn’t you can bet they’ll know someone who was up there or I’ll get the weather wrong.

Claire gazed around the hostel lounge, taking in the stylish fireplace and soothing décor, and felt pleased with herself for stumbling across it in the guide book. She’d been flicking through trying to find a hostel that wasn’t a bunkhouse and her eye had stopped at what she thought was the Holy Cow hostel. Smiling she had thumbed back through the pages and was disappointed that it actually said Holly How. I prefer my version.

Claire heard voices outside the lounge door and the hairs on her arm rose. Just because it’s an Australian accent doesn’t mean anything. You’re worse than a teenager at a school disco. Give it up and write your damn blog.

Tapping at the iPad Claire wrote some purple prose about the views from Brantwood and included a couple of inspirational Ruskin quotes. The voices in the hallway grew louder and then diminished, as the new arrivals dispersed to their various dorm rooms. It sounded like a bus-load had arrived and Claire hoped only the quiet ones were heading for her dorm. It had been empty when she arrived and she’d had a sneaky hope that it might remain that way.

I knew that was too much to ask.

Claire bent her head over her phone, searching through her photos to find one suitable for the blog. She heard someone enter the lounge but forced herself not to look up.

The newcomer walked across the room and stood near the sofa without speaking. Still Claire refused to look up. She knew she was being rude, breaking some kind of hostelling rule by not welcoming the new arrival. She heard the stranger clear their throat, then laugh.

“Hey Claire. Saw the rust bucket outside in the car park. Not in Liverpool then?”

Heart thudding, Claire at last looked up and felt a surge in her chest that wouldn’t have embarrassed her teenage self. Her face spread in an involuntary grin as she gazed at the tanned skin and dirty-blonde hair.

“Hi Josh.”