Taking Stock - October 26, 2015

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Crack out the Lego blocks, stock up on squash and biscuits and get the grandparents on speed dial because half-term is here.

For some of us that news comes as a blessed relief – a chance to spend a week away from the assorted perils and frustrations of the school run.

In truth I quite like being shepherd to the flock every morning – it’s a great excuse to dodge the rush-hour traffic and arrive at my desk just as the kettle has boiled.

But with three to chaperone to the school gates and beyond it can be tricky.

For a start, there’s the battle to get them all out of the house before half past eight – the unofficial cut-off point for anyone not wanting to park further from the playground than they live.

To get away usually means leaving the kitchen looking like the aftermath of an explosion in the Frosties factory, much to the delight of Dotty Dog.

And once you’re done, there’s no hope of a swift getaway thanks to the late-running owner of a 4x4 parking so close their bumper is practically on the back seat.

Even beyond the gates there are issues which can trip you up, and leave you doubting your abilities as a parent.

These days the children insist on dressing themselves.

But that doesn’t mean they know how – there’s invariably a pair of trousers on back-to-front, shoes on the wrong feet, hair bobbles which have mysteriously ‘fallen out’ or mismatched socks which look okay as long as nobody’s looking too closely.

Arriving with three bags is a miracle, as is going home with the same number of cardigans that left the house in the morning. Talking of home time, there’s plenty to look out for there too from making sure all swapped items are returned to their owners to discovering water bottle leaks which have rendered all books illegible. It’s all small stuff but it’s important the little ones get the right start in life. But it’s nice to get a break – the next five days are a holiday for me as much as it is for them.