LOL: How many eyes do you need for the school run?

With back to school imminent and the commencement of the dreaded ‘school run’, here at BritMums we are asking the important questions:

Exactly how many eyes a parent is required to have for the task of getting the children to school safely, unharmed and on-time?


how many eyes do you need for the school run



The Journey:

For the purposes of this study we are looking at a 7-minute walk (excluding stops to pick up random sticks, stroke dogs and read sign posts) from home (a) to school (b).  The journey consists of two road crossings and very uneven pavements. This study only takes into account the journey from a to b, and not the monumental task of getting ready to leave the actual house.


The Conditions:

The day this study was conducted was dry, but cloudy. Rain looked highly likely but the temperature was a lot warmer than it looked once outside, so probably no need for all those layers the small people have been wrestled into.


The Participants:

The School Child (Participant 1)

For the purposes of this experiment, the school child was aged 5 years and three-quarters. He is proficient in walking, running, skipping and jumping. All with added sound effects of his choosing. Has a good awareness of the highway code and complete disregard for the importance of looking where he is going.  He is likely to ask, on average, 29 questions on the 7 minute journey.

The Hanger-on (Participant 2)

Essentially Participant 2 has only come along for the ride. Participant 2 is aged 1 and-a-half years, and has a tendency to get very over excited upon seeing buses. For the purposes of this study Participant 2 will be restrained in a pushchair.

The Parent (Owner of the eyes being assessed for this study)

The parent in this experiment has been doing the school run for one year, and prior to that has two years of experience in the pre-school run. Her most commonly spoken words on the school run are “slow down” “hurry up” and “look where you’re going”. The parent has refused to disclose her age, as at this point in time she can’t actually remember. The parent rated her stress levels that morning as an 8 1/2 out of 10, which translates to a ‘good’ morning. She had received 6.5 hours of sleep with two interruptions (a lost teddy – Participant 2, and a midnight wee – herself).

In the interest of full disclosure the eyes of the subject being studied are blue.  They require glasses for VDU work and driving. They are always accompanied by dark circles.


The Equipment:

The equipment deemed essential for the school run consists of:

  • Buggy
  • Book-bag (With library book and completed permission slip)
  • P.E Kit
  • Lunch box
  • Water bottle
  • Change Bag (containing everything but the kitchen sink)
  • 2 Lego Figures
  • 1 stick
  • 1 orange (Participant 2 insisted on bringing it)
  • 3 Raincoats (the wearing of which has been heavily disputed)
  • Phone
  • Keys


The Study:

How Many Eyes do You Need For The School Run?

Please note that for the purpose of this study the eyes we are referring to are indeed a pair, as it is virtually impossible to look left with one eye and right with the other.


Eyes 1:

Look left and right and assess when it is safe to cross the road

Eyes 2:

Insure Participant 1 has his hand on the buggy whilst crossing the road

Eyes 3:

Watch Participant 2‘s shoes which he is currently trying to remove

Eyes 4:

Constantly scan the floor for dog crap

Eyes 5:

Watch out for oncoming pedestrians and simultaneously ensure Participant 1 does not walk into the pedestrians whilst he is asking another question and looking up at the sky.

Eyes 6:

Check pedestrians following behind for proximity to the book-bag that Participant 1 is swinging around his head

Eyes 7:

Assess the dark clouds above and decide whether it is time to get the rain cover out for the pushchair

Eyes 8:

Find the Lego figure’s head that Participant 1 has dropped on the floor

Eyes 9:

Find the shoes that Participant 2 has successfully removed whilst the subject was looking for the Lego figure’s head

Eyes 10:

Assess the stick Participant 1 has stopped to examine is in fact a stick and not a dried cat turd

Eyes 11:

Monitor Participant 2 who is now trying to remove his socks

Eyes 12:

Measure the speed of the oncoming kid on the scooter and determine whether they are going to dodge right or left, and steer Participant 1 and Participant 2 in the opposite direction

Eyes 13:

Look out for lamp-posts and other hazards that Participant 1 is likely to walk into

Eyes 14:

Remain on constant vigil for passengers of parked cars opening their doors and taking out Participant 1

Eyes 15:

Pick up the socks that Participant 2 has successfully removed and thrown from the buggy

Eyes 16:

Remain on constant alert for muddy puddles and Participant 1’s proximity to them.  If Participant 1 ventures too close stern threats will be issued that will not be followed through, all the while cursing a certain pig in a red dress.

Eyes 17:

Spot an errant toddler that has escaped and hand them back to their out-of-breath and grateful parent

Eyes 18:

Assess proximity of pushchair to Participant 1 so as to avoid collisions when Participant 1 does a sudden and needless emergency stop

Eyes 19:

Give the old lady that is looking at Participant 2’s bare toes and showing a ‘concerned’ expression a hard stare that you hope conveys the message, “Don’t you dare comment on my baby’s feet being cold, or I will be forced to smile and laugh and explain that he always takes them off, when in fact I owe you no explanation at all, and really want to tell you to mind your own business, and shove his socks in your mouth, but I am far too polite to do that”

Eyes 20:

Be available to look at the dog / house / leaf / sign / friend that Participant 1 is insisting be looked at, even though the same dog / house / leaf / sign / friend is seen on every school run.

Eyes 21:

Roll disdainfully at the people parked on the zig-zag yellow lines outside the school

So there we have the answer; How Many Eyes do You Need For The School Run?


Twenty One

This number can dramatically increase with other factors, such as:

  • Both participants walking, and therefore stopping several hundred times. 
  • When one child goes one way and one the other you will indeed require the illusive eyes in the back of your head. 
  • Pavement hazards also significantly increase on any given bin day.



The Conclusion:

In conclusion, parents distinct lack of visual receptors mean the school run is a daily struggle where stress levels run high and extreme adversity is overcome.  It also gives us an insight into why it is impossible for a parent to maintain eye contact with you during a conversation. They simply don’t have enough pairs of eyes.

We hope you found this study useful.  You might also be interested in a recently completed study looking at how many hands it does in fact take to change a nappy.


Other studies conducted to offer some insights into life with kids at school:

Things I have learnt in my kids first year at school: Whinge, Whinge, Wine.

Tips to Survive the school Christmas frenzy – So Happy In Town.

What happens when your youngest starts school – Island Living 365.

The five stages of Tackling World Book Day – Brummy Mummy of 2.

5 things I’ve learnt about back to school – Not Another Mummy Blog.

How to deal with nits in 8 easy steps – Life, Love and Dirty Dishes.


More funny parent humour

The B List: 8 laugh out loud funny blogs

The six stages of shopping for school shoes



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About Claire Kirby

Claire is the blogger behind Life, Love and Dirty Dishes. A blog about the amusing side of parenting. Claire’s claim to fame is that she once spoke to Phillip Schofield on a Going Live phone in. Awesome, right? She with three boys; The Husband, Big (9), who never ever stops talking, and Little (5), who never ever stands still.
They live in a Lego house. They don’t really, but they have so much off the stuff they could probably build one.


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