School run-certainty: New research reveals what parents dread most ahead of the back to school run

  • A quarter (25 per cent) fear talking to other parents at drop-off or being stuck talking to people they don’t know
  • Parents find the school run more irritating than deciding what to wear (39 per cent), getting out of bed (37 per cent) and even returning parcels to the Post Office (36 per cent)!
  • UK parents spend on average 8,505 minutes on the school run throughout the school year – the equivalent of almost six days
  • Green Flag expect to see 82 breakdowns per hour this week; a 14.5 per cent increase compared to normal

After a summer of staycations and topsy-turvy weather, parents across the country are gearing up for the big return to school this week.

New research from breakdown provider, Green Flag, has revealed just how much the return of the school run will be ‘drive-ing’ parents’ potty this week. Forget lateral flow tests, long Zoom meetings or emptying the dishwasher, research shows parents find the school run more stressful. Battling with other parents for precious parking spaces and listening to their children’s choice of music in the car are amongst some of the thing’s mums and dads dread the most about the school run.

Of the 2,000 parents surveyed, a quarter (25 per cent) fear talking to other parents at drop-off or being stuck talking to parents they don’t know, showing we’re a nation who prefer to avoid small talk. However, their main concern is being late (46 per cent), followed by being caught in bad weather (32 per cent) or driving on busy roads (31 per cent).

What’s more, as stress levels are heightened on the daily school run, arriving in school car parks could be the tip of the iceberg as a quarter of UK parents (25 per cent) say they dread having to find a parking space. While over a fifth (23 per cent) are terrorised by the thought of their children forgetting their homework or packed lunch. Plus, one in 10 fear reversing into another parents’ car in the car park.  

In fact, the school run causes such angst among parents that other everyday irritating activities give them less fear in comparison. Deciding what to wear (39 per cent), emptying the dishwasher (37 per cent) getting out of bed (37 per cent) and even returning parcels to the Post Office (36 per cent) are day-to-day actions that parents dread less than the everyday school run.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, as some don’t mind the school run in comparison to other dull tasks. Two out of five parents find partaking in long Zoom meetings (39 per cent), the idea of queuing (39 per cent) more dreadful than the daily back and forth of dropping the kids off. In addition, cleaning (35 per cent), engaging in small talk (35 per cent) and taking a lateral flow test (34 per cent) are seen as worse jobs than the daily school run.

The research also found that UK parents will spend on average of 8,505** minutes on the school run throughout the year – the equivalent of almost six days. Londoners have the longest average daily commute for one trip door to door (25.07 mins), while Scotland have the shortest commute (17.57 mins) out of all the regions in the UK.  

The research comes as Green Flag revealed that it is expecting to see 82 breakdowns on average per hour between Tuesday 31st August and Friday 3rd September – a 14.5 per cent increase when compared to normal, as a result of the back to school rush. 

Hayley Fewster at Green Flag, commented: “The long summer holiday has not only given children across the country some well-deserved respite, but it has also allowed parents to take a break from the daily grind of the school run. We understand the school run can be stressful and we want to ensure that a breakdown doesn’t cause any additional anguish for parents.

“Most of the problems that drivers encounter on the road can be avoided if the correct precautions and checks are made before heading out. However, if you do experience a breakdown, rest assured that one of our Green Flag technicians will be on hand to provide assistance.”


Most dreaded aspects of the school run

Per cent

Being late

46 per cent

Bad weather

32 per cent

Busy roads

31 per cent

Finding a parking space

25 per cent

Your children forgetting their homework or packed lunch

23 per cent

Talking to other parents at drop-off

14 per cent

Stuck talking to other parents you don't know

12 per cent

The fear of reversing into another parent's car in the car park

8 per cent

The fear of not having the appropriate clothes after lockdown

7 per cent

The fear of breaking down

6 per cent

Children being in control of the radio

5 per cent

Bumping into a teacher

4 per cent

Everyday activities UK parents dread less than the school run

Per Cent

Deciding what to wear

39 per cent

Emptying the dishwasher

37 per cent

Getting out of bed

37 per cent

Returning parcels to the Post Office

36 per cent

Dinner prep

35 per cent


34 per cent


30 per cent

Small talk

29 per cent

Long Zoom meetings

28 per cent

Dealing with life admin

28 per cent

Lateral Flow Tests

25 per cent


25 per cent


25 per cent


Notes to Editors

*Research conducted by Censuswide with 2022 parents of school age children (4-16-year olds) between 20.08.2021 - 24.08.2021. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles

**Average journey time for one journey (twice a day) correlated to the number of days in the week and the amount of term weeks (39) in the school calendar

About Green Flag

With over 50 years' experience, Green Flag provides customers with breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers have access to a network of breakdown operators across the UK and mainland Europe (Euro Plus cover required).

Green Flag Motoring Assistance is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Green Flag and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. 

Customers can find out more about Green Flag products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 1557, connecting via the Green Flag Rescue Me Application, or visiting