Heels, lipstick, Mulberry? Check. Coordinating Lycra, over-sized sunglasses and a full face of war paint? Check. Chances are someone’ll have told you about the school run in Dubai – you won’t catch us British Mums being reprimanded for rocking up in our pyjamas! But are we too much at the other end of the scale, or worse, are we even faking? Do those of us in heels and a full face really go on to spend the day ‘doing lunch, dahling’ and do those of us in snappy Lycra really then head for the latest HIIT class?

One British Mum – who shall remain nameless – admits to delegating the school run to her husband whenever possible; It is, she says, “simply too intimidating”. Intimidating? Dropping the children off at school? Yes she says. She spends her days in comfy casuals, maybe blow-drying her hair sometimes if she feels the inclination, but she’s definitely on the ‘less is more’ side of the fence and feels she simply doesn’t fit in. One morning she saw another mum physically incapable of crossing the wooden bridge to the classroom, her heels were so high.

Another British Mum – also nameless – admits to rocking up every morning in head-to-toe fitness gear, only to resume her position on the sofa as soon as her little lady is safely ensconced in the classroom. Changing into a different outfit before pick-up is the most strenuous part of her day!

On the flip side, gym bunny Michele is insulted by the thought she could be simply doing the school run in Lycra for show. “I work really hard to stay fit and it winds me up that people think I just get the outfit on for ten minutes.’ “Showing-off time in the morning?” she says. “It’s easier for me to go straight to the gym from school, so there’s no way I’m going home to get changed before I go, or carting a bag full of kit with me when I don’t need to!”

And Marketing Director Salma says she needs to be at her desk by 8.30am, so she’ll be in her suit with an immaculate blow-dry and perfect make-up whether the other mums like it or not. “I can’t help it that other women might be intimidated by the sight of me looking glamorous first thing in the morning, and I resent the inference that I’m just off to sip coffee or do lunch all day,” she says. “Even if I didn’t work I’d make the effort to look my best, as I do any day whether I’m doing the school run or not; it’s just who I am.”


So… How much does it really matter? “Depends on your attitude,” says Su, and you’re in charge of how it affects you. “Sure, if you’re the only mum in sweats when everyone else looks like they’re on their way to ladies’ night, it could be intimidating,” she says. “But you’ve got three options; Either you grow a thick skin and ignore it, you up your game and join in, or you change schools to one with mums more like you who don’t care what you look like.”

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