It must be serious - not even the magic of Alice can help

Thalia's not concerned that she's half dressed, hair not brushed, breakfast not eaten, shoes not fou

Thalia's not concerned that she's half dressed, hair not brushed, breakfast not eaten, shoes not found and we should have left at 8.15am. Picture submitted - Credit: Archant

Whatever we do we can't seem to get to school on time, writes Jo Malone

We've tried the cooker pinger, umpteen phone alarm sounds, music alarms, racing with me, not racing, counting down, counting up, getting up earlier, applause, stickers and mummy-does-a-crazy-dance as rewards, starting the car and, yes, a bit of yelling.

Thalia may be only seven but she has definite teenager traits. She doesn't like going to bed and she very definitely doesn't like getting up (unless it's a Sunday morning and we haven't got to go anywhere for hours when she will appear in our room very much awake at 6am).

So getting ready for school on time is an increasing battle and we're running out of ideas. It doesn't help that she's not particularly keen on her school and the 'your friends are there' line doesn't work.

Whether she chooses her clothes the day before or not, each morning is a long drawn out process of changing vests because one is too hot, swapping blouses because they itch, checking the toes of tights for softness and a lot of looking out of the window 'thinking'.

I thought a timer was the answer; can she be dressed and downstairs in 15 minutes with the reward that we'll have time for a hairstyle of her choice. But even the theme from her absolute favourite film Alice in Wonderland as the alarm tune didn't help, nor did buying a ten-minute egg timer – she just turns it over again when it's run through.

Rob this week tried imitating Thalia, waiting until she was finally ready then making her wait for him. He sat on the stairs, dreaming, putting his socks on and taking them off again, counting his toes, swapping his socks, examining his shoes, changing his socks again and disappearing upstairs for ages.

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They got to school, eventually, and Rob phoned and told me what he'd done.

I spent all day feeling guilty that she'd been late. Later I asked Thalia what had happened.

'Daddy had sock trouble, ,' she said.

''How did you feel being late?' I asked.

'I don't mind. It was all quiet and I didn't get bumped when I took off my coat,' she says.

Now I'm feeling worse, never having properly asked why she didn't want to get to school on time.

Bad parent.