Last week I wrote about the wonderful time I had with my sister, on our personal shop – and why it was about so much more than clothes. What I didn’t mention was that it was so much more than a trip to a shopping centre – it was my first trip away alone since I had our two boys. This was a treat in itself, but there are certain arrangements that need to be made to achieve it. The best-run kitchens in the world have some very slick handover regimes (at least, I’ve seen them trying to achieve it on Hell’s Kitchen), and that’s what I tried to achieve when leaving Daddy in charge of the morning routine – a carefully timed, finely balanced sequence of events that normally happens when he’s already left for the day. So detailed instructions were needed.

This isn’t a case of paternal incompetence – he is an entirely capable, hands-on father who does not allow nonsense, flannel and messing around when he’s in charge of the bedtime routine (unless he’s instigating it, naturally). But I would need a solid explanation of where to park, how to get into the building, or where to find my seat if I were to stand in for him at work of a morning, so I felt the same courtesy should be extended.

These are the notes I left him when I skipped out of the house to stay with my sister, the night before our Styled by Susie shop.

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Welcome to the inexplicable chaos of the morning routine!

…where the simplest of tasks takes the ages of the Ancient Ones to complete, for no fathomable reason.

Between 07:00 and 07:15 – Begin the bed extraction process between. Cajole, encourage or manhandle the older one into the shower. (NB: he is physically unable to complete the washing of his tiny body less than 10 minutes)

07:45 latest – everyone should be dressed and downstairs. Younger one may need help doing up his shirt button, but he can do everything else – it depends how much of a snail’s pace you are prepared (or have time) to put up with. He knows this and will exploit it.

–Breakfast needs to be restricted to the sugar-free cereal choices, because I like having a pleasant relationship with their teachers. Don’t let them fool you into giving them Coco Pops on a school day.

–Water bottles x2 and one fruit snack – placed by front door for packing into respective bags.

08:15: Alexa Alarm goes off at 8:15. Both of them know that this means they need to go up for teeth cleaning, followed by donning shoes and coat – and yet, every morning, they both consistently fail to respond to this loud and persistent audio cue. Alexa and I have a lot in common.

Once they are underway, these simple tasks always take 10 minutes. There is no good reason why.  But hopefully you will be ready to leave at 08:25.

— Bikes – it means a trip to the bike sheds at each school, but you truly reap the rewards in speed. You will get everywhere three times quicker if you take them. If they walk, they will dawdle and dither. It’s up to you.

08:30 – infant school chucking in time. It’s best to be there for doors-open if you can.

08:40 – 08:50 – hot-foot it up the road for the very strict junior school chucking-in timeslot. If you miss it, you are LATE and our child will carry this branding for the rest of their life (or so he claims). So far we have an unblemished record, so no pressure.

08:50 – 14:50 – FREEDOM

Godspeed, my love – you’ve got this

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It all went incredibly well, according to my strategically-placed spies, and the school attendance record remains unblemished. In fact, the boys were so well behaved, so quick and so co-operative for Daddy, that they earned screen time BEFORE leaving the house. The icing on the cake was apparently: “Mummy’s not normally as quick as this, Daddy.” Unbelievable.