Any parent will tell you how real the struggle is getting out of the door with young children in tow. Shoes go astray, coats just won’t go on, multiple last minute trips to the loo are needed, that favourite Disney water bottle can’t be found anywhere… and they’re just your issues!

Every morning is a race against the clock. As soon as I wake up I change Arlo into a fresh nappy and clothes and then hand him back to George for his morning feed. Then my responsibilities lie with our 3-year-old dictator Edie. If she gets out of the bed on the wrong side, blimey, getting her dressed for school and fed on time becomes the most almighty challenge even a Krypton Factor champ might abandon. Sometimes she doesn’t even want to get out of bed, wrong side or right side. Once she’s (been bribed and is) finally dressed, sporting a wonky dad-styled pony tail, she’ll then have her breakfast and watch cartoons. This gives me approximately 8 minutes to let the dogs out and get them fed before getting myself ready for the day. All this is managed before Edie’s barged out of the door, restrained in the car and driven to school for 8am. Because of this daily gargantuan battle, I’ve had to seriously cut back on any time I get to make myself look presentable. Back in my pre-parent days, the mornings could consist of an ocean of water slowly showering my well rested body, with plenty of time to catch the news headlines, toast a croissant and enjoy a slowly brewed cafetière of fresh coffee. Nowadays, it’s a lukewarm Nespresso chucked down my throat, a brown spotty banana in the car and a quick check of the news on my phone during my 9am visit to the loo.

So, with all that in mind and to ensure I don’t resemble a dishevelled zombie, I’ve found a handful of products that are quick to apply and give me (along with that lukewarm Nespresso) the wake-up call I need. So dads, here are the bits and bobs I slap on when facing a race against time before the school run. Best of all, they’re all readily available on the high street and there's no trendy brands you’ve never heard of or can’t find:

Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo – there comes a time for men (unless you're my mate Peter - the git) when the distressing inevitability of hair loss takes hold. What did we do to bring on this ridicule? Was it that cheap supermarket-own wet look gel applied every day of our teenage years, or those lads’ holidays in Tenerife where our hair was abused with toxic Sun-In? Or perhaps it’s just those sodding genes we unfortunately got from our mother’s grandfather's cousin's dog (or whoever it is).

Anyway, my hair has been ‘thinning’ and receding for a few years now and when I first noticed the worrying change I tried some expensive products, but that was the problem – they were expensive. This product is pretty affordable and although I’m not suddenly tossing a mane of hair around, I would say the loss has slowed in recent times. Apparently you can’t prevent hair loss (unless you’re rich and your name is Wayne Rooney) but you can make the few strands that remain a bit thicker by strengthening the hair follicles – or something like that!

Original Source Mint & Tea Shower Gel – ok, this is no shock to anyone as we all know about this stuff, but in the morning you need something to liven up those weary bones and give your tired bod bit of a tingle. My wife’s not a fan though, so perhaps it’s a guy thing. She recently asked me, “how do you use that stuff, it’s too tingly”, well she hasn’t got balls. Who doesn’t want tingly balls first thing in the morning? Lovely.

Bulldog Original Moisturiser – ‘Bulldog is a man’s best friend’ or so their slogan says. Not sure how my hounds feel about having to step aside to a white plastic tube, but anyway, this moisturiser is pretty good. Essential oils and all that mumbo jumbo. It does the trick, giving the ol’ boat race a much needed boost first thing.

Sir Reginald's Beard Oil – now, I used to use Brisk Beard Oil (see To Beard or Not to Beard) but was kindly given Sir Reginald's for Christmas by a work colleague (who was probably discreetly trying to tell me my beard looked rubbish using Brisk). Upon running out of my (previously well-trusted but now suspicious) Brisk, I gave this new oil a shot and haven’t looked back. If you’re not already using oil on your face carpet, do so. Sir Reginald's is a good starting place when it comes to the now mind-boggling world of beard products. With a quick coating, your beard can go from resembling a wildlife reserve, to a haven for cool. 

Marc Jacobs EDT – masculine, timeless and a bit of luxury to help conceal the unavoidable and unpleasant scents that a child will repeatedly and blissfully smother you in.

There you have it. In 8 minutes or so, I’m showered with (apparently) thickened hair, tingling balls, soothed face, de-tangled bum fluff and smelling like the beauty counter at Boots. This race against the clock gives me just enough time to give Arlo a big cuddle and then be on the receiving end of a good coating of baby puke… mmm, curdy milk, the final piece to my morning routine.