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Ready, steady, school!

5 Sept 2018

Love it or loathe it, the kids are back at school this week. Time to set the alarm and get organised — after all, nailing the school routine is the key to a happy life. Take a leaf out of kids’ author Mark Lemon’s book. 


Mark (the_dad_author on Instagram) lives in Bristol with his wife Simone and their children, Otis, six, and Thea, three. His beautifully illustrated books published by Lemon Drop Books, deal with issues of ethnic diversity and his latest story, The Magical Wood, sensitively covers childhood bereavement, drawing from Lemon’s personal experience of losing his father at a young age. Here he shares his school morning routine.


Describe your typical morning

I would call it organised chaos, but I’m sure Simone would call it something totally different. Whoever is awake first feeds the kids. Once the kids are fed we both get them dressed for school and nursery, before both running for the shower. If I had to liken our morning routine to a movie, it would probably be the start of Home Alone, when all of the family are late for their flight; frantically rushing around the house to get ready. I really recommend having a look at this back-to-school checklist to ensure you have everything you need.

What’s the greatest challenge each morning?

Drinking a full mug of coffee, brushing Theas hair (love this quick and easy hairstyles for school feature) and actually leaving the house.

How do you divvy-up the tasks?

Luckily, Otis’ uniform is quite simple, a polo shirt, shorts and a sweater so its quite easy to get him ready. Simone usually takes Thea to nursery and I generally take Otis to school. He scoots and I run alongside him and then walk back. It’s about a 20 minute walk so its pretty good exercise. I work from home which means I can do the school pick-ups too.

How do you deal with the school gates? 

Id say the school gates are still 80 per cent mums and 20 per cent dads and you do have the regular parents you chat to. Just smile and try not to get too involved in the playground politics. It helps as I’ve been in to the school to read stories to all the classes in each year and I’ve also done an assembly. I think Otis is quite proud he loves school which is quite nice.

Top tips for a smooth school routine?

Just go with the flow. Make sure you give your child enough time to settle in. See this helpful article on how to make healthy packed lunches that everyone is happy with. Always take a snack and a drink with you at the end of the school day. I’ve lost count of how many times I have forgotten to take a snack with me at school pick up, to then witness a full on child meltdown in the school playground. Most importantly, try to remember that all children are different and settle into school life at their own pace.


Photographer: Nicky Emmerson. Art director: Fleur Harding. Stylist: Francesca Bartoli. Prop stylist: Lizzie Harper. Make-up: Hester van Overbeek. Hair: Lewis Pallett. Production: August Management. 



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