14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Relieved The Kids Are Back At School? You're Not Alone!

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Tired dad

It's more than 60 years since the hit festive song It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas was written.

But as Bing Crosby belted out his version on our family Christmas CD for about the 100th time a few days ago there was one line that really resonated. It goes: "...And Mum and dad can hardly wait for school to start again!"

This January how many parents can honestly admit that the sentiment doesn't ring as true today as it did in the 1950s.

Yes, it's lovely to spend Christmas with the kids and see their little faces light up as they get their presents. But I'm bettingthere are millions of parents who are now back at work and breathing a little sigh of relief.

A recent survey found that 60 per cent of parents are secretly relieved when their children return to classrooms after the summer holidays. It's a safe bet that the figure isn't any different after the yuletide break.

Because, let's face it, sometimes being at the 'coalface' actually seems easier than dealing with the little darlings day after day.

Of course, in today's society we are told that we are not spending enough quality time with our children. A recent survey for Virgin Holidays found that, on average, families spend just eight hours together per week.

But one of the problems is that when we do get time off we are often too tired to play with them properly.

Another poll found that half of parents say that the stresses of modern life leave them too exhausted to play with their kids.

I suffer from this problem myself. But, like a lot of other mums and dads, this causes me to overcompensate when the holidays come – especially over the Christmas and New Year period.
In a bid to assuage my guilt at not being around enough the rest of the year for my two sons I'm prone to spend too much time catering for their every need and desire.

I end up giving in to all their demands and am always desperate to think up new methods of entertainment in case they should miss out on the 'perfect childhood.'

No doubt I also give them too many treats to see smiles on their faces and too much TV to keep them quiet when I just can't take any more.

Of course it's especially difficult to keep them occupied over the Christmas break because the weather usually means we're stuck inside for hours on end.

The result? Two weeks later, I'm even more tired than when I downed tools in December.

I'm fed up with playing silly kids games and trying to construct bits of presents they were given that they will barely play with once I do.

I've had enough of living in a permanent tip as they create chaos as fast as we can tidy the house up.

I no longer have any clever answers to deal with their inane questions about the true identity of Father Christmas and am simply unable, I'm afraid, to pretend that I actually find pantomimes funny.

My guilt is even worse than it was before the holidays too. This past weekend, when I once again woke up at 6am to be greeted with the eager face of my four-year-old standing by the bedside wanting to play my heart sank.

Surely if I was a good dad wouldn't I be bounding out of bed just as excited at the opportunity to dress up as a pirate as he is?

The truth is that I - and I suspect many other parents – have simply tried too hard during the holidays to make up for our absence the rest of the year when what we actually needed was a well-earned rest.

I can't deny that I now feel delighted that for a large part of the day that my four-year-old's teacher now has to deal with keeping him entertained.

Meanwhile I can spend some time thinking about how to get my work life balance sorted so I do have more energy when half term comes along.

So to any other parent feeling guilty about being relieved that your child has gone back to school my message is: don't be too hard on yourself. It's normal and you're not alone.

Any anyway our children are probably relieved to be getting a break from us parents too.

And if you're not too exhausted....