Mums who in­sist the school run’s the best part of the day

... and that’s why they’ll never give up — even when their chil­dren are teens

Scottish Daily Mail - - Femail Life - by Sadie Ni­cholas

ASTRAPPING 16 year old, Daniel Agar-Bren­nan is study­ing for his A-lev­els and ex­cels at hockey, a sport as­so­ci­ated with rough and tum­ble.

Not the kind of boy who’d need his mother to hold his hand on the school run, you might think. Yet mum Sarah in­sists on get­ting up early every morn­ing for the ten-minute drive to school.

Work and meet­ings are ar­ranged around this com­mit­ment. The school run, she says, is non-ne­go­tiable.

Ac­cord­ing to last year’s Na­tional Traf­fic Sur­vey, 57 per cent of 11 to 16year-olds are taken to school by an adult, com­pared to 31 per cent in 2014. In the Seven­ties, al­most every 11-yearold made their way to school alone.

Some might call this yet more mol­ly­cod­dling by mod­ern moth­ers, an­other ex­am­ple of he­li­copter par­ents re­fus­ing to let their chil­dren grow up.

Not so, says Sarah Agar-Bren­nan. ‘Daniel likes the ex­tra half hour he gets in bed ver­sus tak­ing the bus. My mo­ti­va­tion is it gives me trea­sured time with him,’ ad­mits Sarah, 46, an en­ter­prise coach, who lives in Leeds with soft­ware con­sul­tant hus­band Carl, 45.

The cou­ple have a daugh­ter, El­lie, 18, at uni­ver­sity in Paris — an­other rea­son Sarah’s cling­ing on to the school run. ‘In a few years he’ll be gone, like El­lie,’ she adds.

Con­sul­tant psy­chol­o­gist Dr Elena Touroni says there are var­i­ous rea­sons why moth­ers of older chil­dren be­come so at­tached to the school run.

‘Per­haps par­ents aren’t ac­cept­ing their chil­dren are a bit more grown up and can do cer­tain things by them­selves,’ ex­plains Dr Touroni, co-founder of the Chelsea Psy­chol­ogy Clinic.

‘Equally the school run can bring a lot of valu­able en­joy­ment. The im­por­tant thing is that par­ents fa­cil­i­tate a nor­mal ex­plo­ration of the world, and chil­dren feel able to say if they’d pre­fer to take the bus with their friends.’

WhEN Sarah’s chil­dren were lit­tle they lived in ru­ral North York­shire where walk­ing or get­ting the bus to school wasn’t pos­si­ble. When they moved to Leeds eight years ago, she re­calls feel­ing briefly re­sent­ful. ‘The kids’ schools weren’t within walk­ing dis­tance and I re­mem­ber think­ing, “Why can’t there be a school bus?” Then I re­alised how much I loved all the things we did in the car, lis­ten­ing to harry Potter au­dio books, singing and mak­ing up rhymes.

‘Most im­por­tantly, it was when El­lie and Daniel felt able to chat about any anx­i­eties.’

By the time they went to se­nior school and a bus route was avail­able, Sarah was emo­tion­ally in­vested in their daily rou­tine.

Thank­fully for her, Daniel says he’s not em­bar­rassed about be­ing taken to school by his mum.

‘Lots of kids get dropped off,’ he says. ‘Mum just drives past and I jump out. I’m al­ways tired, so that ex­tra 30 min­utes sleep re­ally sorts me out. I’m grate­ful to Mum.’

Sarah, mean­while, is adamant she’s no he­li­copter par­ent: ‘They’re more in­clined to talk when they’ve just got out of school rather than at home where there are other dis­trac­tions. I’m not an over­bear­ing mother, we just love spend­ing time as a fam­ily.’

As for her car­bon foot­print, Sarah says she off­sets her 50 miles a week on the road by eat­ing or­ganic, lo­cally sourced food, is ve­gan and buys sus­tain­able clothes. The school run is her ‘guilty plea­sure’.

Jac­que­line White spends al­most three hours a day in the car tak­ing her mid­dle child, Ethan, 14, to and from his gram­mar school. ‘It can take 40 min­utes each way and costs around £40 a week in fuel.

‘But I have a small car with a stop-start func­tion to cut down on emis­sions,’ says Jac­que­line, 41, a Kent-based ther­a­pist spe­cial­is­ing in stroke re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

So why the ex­tra has­sle? Jac­que­line, who has two other chil­dren, Tie­gan, 18, and Ewan, eight, is con­vinced her son would be bul­lied on the bus. ‘he’s short, shy and geeky — a clas­sic tar­get.’

Sheela Mack­in­tosh-Ste­wart, a re­la­tion­ship ex­pert and fam­ily lawyer, says this is a common worry. ‘Moth­ers may be afraid of what their chil­dren may get up to or be faced with when they’re not around. By do­ing the school run, they can keep an eye on them.’ Jac­que­line, who is mar­ried to Mon­tague, 51, a pho­tog­ra­pher, got her school run habit when Tie­gan de­vel­oped a con­di­tion at 13, which caused her knees and an­kles to swell. For a year she was un­able to walk be­tween bus stops, home and school, so Jac­que­line, started tak­ing her by car. When Tie­gan re­cov­ered, nei­ther wanted to give up their shared journey. ‘Then when Ethan started sec­ondary school there was no ques­tion of me send­ing him off to the bus stop,’ Jac­que­line adds.

‘Ethan’s got a crack­ing per­son­al­ity but, as the mid­dle child be­tween a dom­i­neer­ing sis­ter and a de­mand­ing lit­tle brother, he doesn’t have much of a voice at home. In the car, he opens up to me about ev­ery­thing from school to friend­ships, and is­sues his friends are hav­ing that they’ve con­fided in him. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for me to help him.’

So devoted is Car­rie Win­nall to her twin 13-year-olds’ school run that when they went up to sec­ondary school two years ago she took the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of chang­ing jobs to keep it up.

‘I had no choice but to drive them to pri­mary school be­cause it was a two-mile walk away down coun­try lanes,’ says Car­rie, 47, who works in ad­min and lives in Devon with hus­band Matt, 48, a pur­chas­ing man­ager, and twins Gra­cie and Jaydn.

‘Be­fore they started sec­ondary school we talked about the bus, as I’d have been driv­ing them in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to my work. I then de­cided to look for a new job in­stead of re­lin­quish­ing that time with my chil­dren. I cher­ish our 20minute journey,’ she ex­plains. ‘My daugh­ter in par­tic­u­lar uses it to talk through any wor­ries.’

MuM of four Sally Keane re­grets not do­ing the school run with her el­dest pair, which is why she’s now devoted to drop­ping her younger two off — de­spite spend­ing two and a half hours a day fer­ry­ing Annabel, 12, and Char­lotte, 15, to their schools. ‘When my older kids were grow­ing up I was working full time. I never had the lux­ury of do­ing the school run,’ ex­plains Sally, 57, a life coach who is mar­ried and lives in Worces­ter­shire. ‘My el­dest of­ten says she’d have loved me to pick her up, which has made me de­ter­mined to do this for Annabel and Char­lotte. Char­lotte is at a pre­car­i­ous age but feels re­as­sured by spend­ing time with me and off­loads about her day. ‘Be­cause it’s a longer journey we have time for those in­depth con­ver­sa­tions. When we get home she dis­ap­pears to her room like teenagers do.’ Still, the girls have rules: Mum has to wait down the road from the school gates, and giving them a hug or kiss is a no-no. But Sally adds: ‘So many par­ents re­sent the school run, yet when you can’t do it you re­alise it’s some­thing pre­cious.’

Driv­ing school: Sarah with son Daniel, and be­low, Sally with Annabel, 12, and Char­lotte, 15

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