Heidi Scrimgeour on how the ’11 o’clock’ rule (aka daily walkies) kept her sane when her sons were small

It took me a while to suss that parenting is pretty much like being a puppy owner. I’m not being flippant; it really is.

When my lads were little I stuck fast to one thing unwaveringly: the 11 o’clock rule. It’s a simple premise; small boys, like puppies, must be exercised daily. I’m sure the same is true of girls.

I used to be able to predict that a (reasonably) harmonious day would follow just so long as the puppies (sorry, I mean children) were up and outdoors by 11am every day. Without fail every single time I neglected the 11 o’clock rule there would be tears before bedtime. In fact usually well before lunch.

Even now this holds weight with the charming pre-teens who have mysteriously replaced those rambunctious toddlers. It’s 10.50am as I write this and while they’ve been happily holed up at home playing their many gadgets for several hours, I can already feel the rumblings of discontent, well, rumbling. It can mean only one thing: time for walkies.

Of course I don’t call it walkies. At least not within their hearing. And it doesn’t have to be a walk, as such. It could be haring round the garden, strolling along the beach or popping to the shops for some Match Attax and a Star Wars comic. The details don’t matter. As long as they’re out of doors, using their limbs to propel themselves along in some manner and it happens by 11am or thereabouts, all will be well with our world.

I can’t recommend the 11 o’clock rule highly enough but it’ll work best if you make it your own in some way. Try creating your own golden rule – based on your child’s age, temperament and interests that will give some structure and predictability to the kids’ day – and yours too.

It might not always go exactly according to plan, of course – we’ve had a fair few daily walkies sessions in the midst of hurricanes / snowstorms / torrential downpours that I can’t say went well. But even a bad daily walkies session is better than the day descending into chaos as your kids start (literally) climbing the walls at 11.01am.

@mushmums @heidiscrim