Tuesday 18 October 2016

Being a parent has made me fitter than I thought

shoes and backpacks

OK, so I admit it. I was online, possibly tweeting and definitely not doing anything with the enormous pile of laundry that has taken over the utility room.   My alarm had gone off to let me know it's nearly time to go and get the kids from their various schools but I knew I had one snooze before I really had to leave.

As I finished submitting something unimportant on some website I glanced up at the clock.... what?  I looked at my phone....nooooo, I've hit 'stop' instead of 'snooze'. Blast that recent iPhone update that's switched things all over the place!  "Ahhhhhhh" I yelp as I literally jump out of the kitchen chair and launch myself towards the counter, "I'm going to be late!"

Let me explain.  For just over two years I've spent a ridiculous amount of time in the car ferrying my kids to schools. Mostly this is because they both had special educational needs linked to their autism (or Autistic Spectrum Disorder - ASD) and other conditions they have.  They have different requirements and so need different educational settings - that's school to most of us mummy types.  In the year that Anthony was in Yr 2 at his primary school, David was in a special needs nursery school 4 miles away.  Sounds like nothing right.  Except we live in south west London.

We were fortunate that drop of and pick up times were a bit different, if nothing else because David was just in 'afternoons' sessions.  But I did the math several times and I was spending over 2.5 hrs every school day just driving the kids to school.  Add that all up and it's like spending an entire month, 24 hours a day, in my car over that year.  Insane! And poor little Jane was thrown in and out of the car constantly - guess where she had most of her naps as a toddler?

The cemetery

When David started at reception we were very fortunate to get him into a specialist autism unit next to a mainstream school.   It wasn't Anthony's school but and it was only half a mile from it.  As Anthony also has ASD we were not planning on moving him from a school he was doing well in - so that meant it was a double drop-off and pick-up.  I tried driving between the schools but traffic and parking made it unpredictable.

I spoke to David's school about it and was allowed to park in a car park at David's school, drop David at 8.45am and then semi-jog/quick walk with Anthony on a scooter and Jane in a buggy (despite being three she couldn't keep up with the pace we need to make it) through a cemetery to just make it to Anthony's school for 9.55am. Then Jane an I would walk back through the cemetery to get the car.  In the afternoon I only had a five minute window (pick-ups were 3.15pm and 3.20pm), but as traffic was better I tended to drive. I have developed superb parking skills as a result.

This year, Jane is now at pre-school at Anthony's school too.  She's dropped at lunchtime and her pick-up is at 3.30pm (seriously?).

But this means that after spending what feels like months in a car (no wait actually months) I've been taking the opportunity since mid September to walk(!) back home.  After the cemetery speed walk each morning, Jane and I do whatever is on the agenda for the day and then I take her to pre-school at 12.20pm. Because there is no general school pick up at this time I always get a prime parking spot within 20m of Anthony and Jane's school.  So I figured, why move it?

Instead I've been walking back across the park which is a bit shorter than a car journey and takes about 35 minutes.  Then later walk back over the David's school, collect David, walk to Anthony's school where I'm usually about 2 minutes late, but just close enough for the everyone to still be OK about it, then go collect Jane.  Finally I'm not spending my life in the car.  It works well..unless. Unless I'm a complete idiot and forget to leave the house on time.

As I'm stood in the kitchen staring frantically at the clock, I realise the car is waiting at the school, the bus will take too long ... the only thing I can do is run to get to the schools.  Being late isn't just a bit embarrassing (thought it obviously is), but it can be really difficult for my kids to understand.  Quite often things have to be 'just so' and change and variation from the norm can be upsetting and confusing for them.  This is extremely common in autism.  It means if something happens I can't just phone another parent and ask them to collect Anthony or David today... that just can't happen.  It used to be that even collection by Anthony's Dad or grandparents needed prior warning if he wasn't going to meltdown at the door of the classroom or on the way home in the car.

So, in a slightly mad panic, I abandon my coat and rucksack, grab my car/house keys and throw myself out the door.  Yep.. I'm running to school (past three other schools on the way) and on a day that's just turned sunny, I'm doing it in jeans, a wool jumper and my converse.

Now I did do a bit of running. I randomly decided I wanted to run a marathon just over ten years ago. Despite all my training, I can honestly say that running it was the second most painful thing in my life after childbirth, but all I got at the end of it was a lousy medal. I haven't done any running since and have absolutely no idea where my trainers are... if I still gave any? So, as I get to the end of my road and pass school number one, I'm pleased that I haven't yet collapsed, seem to be still breathing and mostly that there are only two parents watching me (the obviously mad woman running in jeans on a sunny day) .

Then across a zebra crossing (quick walk there to be safe) up the hill over the bridge (well hills are agony is all I can say.  That was barely running up there). As it flattens out, I slow down to a fast walk as I cut past a road that leads to another school and cross the high street to get into the park.  Fortunately it's pretty empty which is just as well - as I look down at my phone I'm panicking again... get running Ann!

Running in the shade of the lovely tress was fine, but in the sun was rubbish,  I got hot really quickly and the jeans started to stretch and sag.  I also began to worry a bit - my pelvic floor never really recovered from the last birth.  Heck, it never really recovered from the first one never mind the next two.  So I stop for a second at the gate out of the park to focus a little then head off up the remaining quiet residential streets to get to David's school.

I can nearly wave at Anthony's school on the way but ignore it as I've to get to David's first.  I'm held up a minute at traffic lights about 200m from my target.. but take the opportunity to breath and double check I've not leaked anywhere ... phew!

The parkDavid

I stop running as I round the main drag for David's school, partly in case I accidentally but enthusiastically  bowl over a scooter riding infant, but mostly cos it's just embarrassing and I'd like to look less like a sweaty mess on arrival at David's unit.  I make it 90 seconds late.  Not bad.

As I collect David, I check his day has been OK - apparently he's got a bit a thing with a girl going on... soooo sweet. I always grab a kiss when I collect him as he's only just started allowing kisses so I encourage it, well, as much as possible to be honest. Then we set off through the cemetery to collect Anthony and Jane.

I breath.. apart from the slight stickiness from my jeans (yuk) I'm OK.  I'm not out of breath, I'm not collapsed.  And I (except for the odd stop at traffic lights, zebra crossings and gates) ran three miles, in jeans, a jumper and converse.

Turns out that despite having spent weeks in the car over the last two years, looking after the kids must be doing something for my fitness after all.  Because basically that's all I've done.  I'm often worried about things like carrying David when he's having a meltdown hurting my back or the like.. but I guess running around with them has it's plus points.

When we get back home I celebrate by removing my somewhat sweaty converse and heading for the fridge.  Nothing like a bit of random exercise to make you hungry.  We all celebrate being back home with a bit of Kinder chocolate.  NB. Don't buy any more kids chocolate Ann, you'll only eat it!

Do manage to get any fitness into your routine since becoming a parent?  How do you cope with being late?

Our blog - It took five years for my son to let me kiss him on the lips - I'm not stopping now
Our blog - The slightest change can be difficult

Our blog - Accessing specialist units or schools
Our blog - Meltdown - my son's despair at only one shoe

Linked to:
Mouse Moo Me Too


  1. I'm fairly confident that many of the mums who drop off at my school in full gym gear never do any exercise! Well done you. Witness the fitness!

  2. Well done for making it under the pressure! I've just got a place in the London marathon next year and glad you rank the pain as second to childbirth, eek!! #KCACOLS

  3. Omg I am tired reading this, what a juggle between all the schools you legend. I ran to my little ones school the other day in jeans too..not a planned jog a my car wont start panic..25 mins later I arrive bright red and sweating..I hear you about the pelvic floor! My sons school is 25 mins walk and he just gets too tired and it doesn't leave me enough time to walk home and get the car to go to work otherwise I would love to get a bit more exercise in as, as you say, I spend so much time in the car! Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS We hope you will join us next Sunday xx

  4. OMG! I am a rubbish runner always have been and count myself lucky that I only live a 7 minute walk away from Olivia's school, not that I'm allowed to pick her up these days mind you. I totally hear you with the pelvic floor thing too! #kcacols

  5. Wow what a day! It sounds hectic! I'm super bad lately with my fitness. I hardly do any exercise lately which is super bad. I'm a lot at home due to working with my laptop. It is something that I don't like at all. I really want to change this. I only take and pick up my little from nursery as my eldest is taken and picked up by her teacher that lives in front of me. My little one nursery is less than 10 minutes walking but I'm always on a rush that a lot of time I ended up in the car. Terrible right? I need to be better with this as I really feel I need to improve my fitness. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS and for commenting so much! You are a STAR! :-) x

  6. I'm late quite a lot because I also have to drive the school run. Only I still havent passed my test. So I rely on lifts, or taxi's. My friend forgot me the other day :( Well done on your jaunt! Thanks for linking up to #chucklemums

  7. Good lord! I'm always, always late, to the point where most baby group leaders will ask if I've just frog marched there as I sweat all over the floor. I hate driving and love walking so I'm usually on foot, but my attention to time has gone out the window post-kids. Impressed by your marathon though! Thanks for linking to #Chucklemums xx

  8. This sounds exhausting. I am terribly unfit as an hour long walk with a toddler on a buggy board yesterday taught me. I need to be fitter but I think I'll start with baby steps before attempting to copy your day ;) #chucklemums


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