From when the school empties out, the cars drive away and then the chaos returns to the gates a short while later, what do mums do during that that mysterious hour between the school pick ups?
A daily discussion between mums who have child(ren) in the infant classes and other child(ren) in the rest of the school is “what do you do for the hour?’ The infamous hour! For most this hour between pick ups can be a chance to do a shop or some chores but for anyone who does not live next door to the school it can be a real pain in the neck.
Some days that hour can be productive. Some days it can feel like it is a simply an hour to kill. On these days I have to remind myself that this is quality time. A time that will very soon be over. This is my third year figuring out what to do and so even on the days we have chores to do, I have tried to make them fun. Here are my top tips for utilitising the infamous hour between pick ups.
1. The Recycling Centre We are all about the recycling centre in our house. The bottle bank isn’t accessible to little people so the little lady is in charge of all the smaller items (batteries, DVD’s, light bulbs, books, print cartridges, small electrical items). She loves delivering the items and gets the same smug satisfaction as me when we leave with an empty box.
2. Things To Do Outside If the playground near us wasn’t constructed at the top of an exposed hill we would happily be there everyday. Instead we keep the scooter in the boot. Some days we bring bread for the ducks. Some days we just stroll along the promenade.
3. Rainy day times just hanging in the car This is where we spend most of our time. Missy in the front seat, will happily clean out the glovebox or polish the dashboard. We play ‘word association’ or the ‘yes or no’ game. This has become great fun with no big brother trying to out do her and as as result she has become quite the shark! I always have a stash of colouring pencils and colouring books, a word search book and nail polish/polish remover and an emery board.
4. The iPhone We usually look up recipes to decide on dinner or something to bake. Sometimes we check out hairstyle videos, http://www.prettyhairisfun.com or on Instagram @hairisfun and other times we simply take photos and then use Instacollage or Skitch to make funny photos.
5. Shopping / Chores Seems obvious but this is when the little lady shines. She has her list and I have mine. It is our routine and it works brilliantly. She will poodle off and get grapes, yogurts whatever it is. If it is the bank, she presses the buzzer. If it is the post office, she does the stamps. If it is the local shop, she gets the milk, queue and pays.
6. The Toy Shop / The Pet Shop / The Garden Centre Some days we choose a shop and we just go and poodle. My kids love looking at toys or fish or running around a garden center or trying out couches. Once we get over the initial battle that we are not buying anything it is a great way to hang out and listen to their chats and discover their interests.
While all this sounds lovely, like everything with children, it does not always works out so perfectly. Some days we have only left the school when we need to go in search of a toliet. Some days “we” aren’t always in the cooperating mood and shopping can become more of a race against the clock and ‘no, you cannot get a comic’ negotiations. However, most days it doesn’t matter as we are not against a deadline.
An hour is really a very short time and this is guilt free playing, away from work and housework. More importantly it is a definite five hours a week having quality time with the little lady. How could that possibly be a pain in the neck? .