Summer is nearly over and while some parents are itching to get the kids back to school, personally I'm dreading it. It's not that they don't get under my feet (quite a lot), it's just that getting them out of the door is even more stressful.
So here are my top 10 term time hates:
1. Getting up on time.
I'm not talking about the kids here, but me. Now that the two eldest know how to key '71' into the remote control, mornings are so much more pleasant. I've even managed a few cheeky lie-ins, safe in the knowledge they're happy in the company of Zingzillas and that irritant Baby Jake.
But in a few days' time those jolly CBeebies characters will be replaced by a caffeine starved mother yelling at them to find their school shoes / clean their teeth / turn that awful TV off - it's not the holidays now, you know. And as for a cup of tea ....
2. Getting them to bed on time.
If the above has any chance of happening, then it must be preceded by the thing guaranteed to drive every child (well mine, anyway) loopy - the promise (or threat) of 'an early night.' Sadly, my kids have inherited my nocturnal genes and will do anything in their power to avoid making pillow contact.
This includes needing a poo (I can hardly refuse) a cuddle (again, hard to say no), a desperate desire to watch 'you've been framed' (NO!) and my son's favourite: suddenly deciding he would like to do some reading after all - having refused to open a book all holiday.
What you mean you haven't spent the summer completing the Oxford Reading Tree or practising times tables every day? Of course you have.
But if you're as slack as me and your kids prefer setting fire to sticks with a magnifying glass to playing Junior Scrabble, then be prepared for the recommencement of homework night meltdown of 'I told you not to leave it until the last minute.' And don't even mention those spelling tests.
4. All those 'voluntary contributions.'
Barely a week goes by when a letter doesn't come home from school asking for money. And I'm not even talking about swimming lessons or football club, but all those OFSTED, sorry curriculum, improving extras that the kids can barely remember taking part in by the time you pick them up. And of course we all know that the £3.50 for that Rainforest workshop, is not voluntary at all. Be prepared for a follow-up letter if you don't pay on time.
5. Forms, forms and pro-formas.
If it's not money they're after, it's another bloody signature. There's nothing quite like finding a crumbled, damp, past-its-handing-in-date, piece of headed paper at the bottom of your child's book bag, to get you on the wrong side of the school secretary. Surely one declaration of parental consent should be enough to cover whatever activities they've got planned for at least half a term, if not the rest of the year? Just think of the trees. And what is a pro-forma, anyway?
For me, one of the joys of the holidays is not having to look after other people's kids. I find three of my own is usually quite enough.
Oh God, do we really have to have so-and-so-who-doesn't-eat-anything-containing-tomatoes-not-even-pizza back for tea again?
7. School uniform.
Why is it the one shirt they MUST wear, is the one with irreversible ketchup / blood / grass stains on it. And why the hell are they always WHITE? My kids have dozens of brightly coloured unblemished tops that can last for days (well, maybe two) without entering the washing pile. Yet give them a school one, and five minutes later it'll look like they've taken on Daddy Pig at muddy puddle jumping.
8. The PTA.
It's not that I don't want to be on the PTA (well, OK actually I don't) but even if I did, I honestly don't have the time. Now stop making me feel guilty and asking me if I'm coming to the next meeting / helping at the next fair / painting the new school toilets. Until I don't need to work in whatever 'free' time I have, the answer's no. Sorry.
9. Their cheeky little faces.
They ensure you never get to finish a cup of tea, and they always need a baby wipe for something, but their stupid jokes, irrepressible zest for life and adoring smiles are what makes parenting cool. Plus, who's going to entertain the toddler when the older ones are at school?
With the kids out of the house all day, just think of all the chores you'll be able to get done. Oh, hang on.
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