The School Run


The School Run

Is the school run the most stressful part of your day? One survey suggests that it is for 77% of mums! If the idea of battling the clock, traffic and wilful children makes you queasy, take a look at this ‘School Run: Relax!’ info before the next term starts…

Want to beat stress? If so, you might be amazed at how the way you breathe affects the way you feel! Need convincing? Pay attention to any tension you have in your shoulders right now… Then breathe in through your nose for about 7 seconds – and breathe out through your mouth for 11 seconds…

Do this again, and again… How soon do you notice the tension easing? Many people begin to feel more relaxed immediately, but keep going for up to 7 more cycles. That said, if you personally find this 7/11 count leaves you a bit light-headed, try it for a ratio of 5/9 instead. You can do this type of breathing almost any time – before you set out, at the school gates – even in the car before going on to your next port of call!

…and s – t – r – e – t – c – h! Also, your body can get horribly stiff when you’re worked up! Now, if you go to Back in Shape for Massage, Yoga, Pilates or one of our other services, you probably already know all about the benefits of a visit. We know it’s not possible to get a visit in after every school run, though! For that reason, we suggest you try this simple stretching exercise when you feel tense…

Keep your shoulders level and gently tilt your head down to one of them. Be careful not to go too far; it should feel like a comfortable stretching – not a tortuous wrenching! Hold it there for a little bit – a few seconds is fine – then straighten up. Now tilt your head again, moving it gently down towards the other shoulder. Next, carefully loll your head forward so that you can see the floor, then slowly move it back… Keep going as if you want to look up; go as far as you comfortably can.

Finally, put your head back where it belongs and then rotate each of your shoulders in a wide circle. If you don’t think you look nuts enough, start opening and closing your jaw widely. A lot of stress ends up clenched in the jaw, but you may not even have noticed it until now. You can get the most out of this three step cycle by repeating it around five or six times… Just be gentle at every stage!

Allow yourself enough time: Let’s face it, your kids probably don’t give a horn’s toot if you, they or anyone else is late! So it helps to find ways to save time in the mornings that don’t really depend on them cooperating. For example, can you fill up the car with petrol when you’re alone? Or put the children’s clothes ready the night before? And pack your own bag ready for the morning? A couple of our friends even make packed lunches just before they go to bed so as to make for an easier morning.

Give the kids a game to play: Once or twice a week, another friend of ours distracts her kids in the car by giving them an ‘I Spy’ game to play. She simply writes a list of things that the children have to spot en route and asks them to say when they see them! On days when she hasn’t made a list, she sometimes just looks further down the road, picks something she sees in the distance and tells the kids to spot one!

“Those bloody keys!” How often does your morning include a search for lost keys? It needn’t! There are plenty of gadget key rings that solve the problem… Google find keys + key ring, or pop into Maplin to see what we mean. Alternatively, a low-tech answer is to simply get a spare set of your keys cut and keep them somewhere safe but accessible.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination & life to everything.” But don’t take Plato’s word for it: studies confirm that listening to music that you enjoy helps beat stress… As soon as you’re shot of the kids, pop a tune on in the car – or iPod if you walk! At home, some people let music wash over them; repetitive rhythms that are slower than the heart beat – about 72 bpm. Others prefer something more upbeat, dancing and letting themselves go a bit when the house is empty.

Raining again? You’ll know better than we do how much longer it takes to drive to the school on a rainy day! Try and factor the weather in to your departure time, and get out of the house accordingly. As a rule of thumb, we allow an extra minute or two for every mile of the journey… But staying safe is more important than being on time!

See me do my exercises: Doesn’t have to be many! A brisk walk with a mum chum after you drop off your kids can make a tremendous difference… It’s better still if you can arrange a weekly exercise class with other mothers, or go along to Yoga together.

Speaking of ‘mum chums’, you might find you can get a day off from the school run altogether! If you have a reliable friend with whom you can arrange a tit-for-tat journey swap, try it… She might be just as grateful as you for a morning on which she only has to get the kids out the door instead of all the way to school! Same goes for pick-ups and after hours’ activities…

So there you have it! As always, we’re on hand to give you more advice on Pilates and Yoga! You can drop us a line via the usual addresses and numbers: and 020 7730 8437. See you soon!