Love it or loathe it, September is here and school is in session. Some parents sing the blues; some feel unyielding joy. Some delight at the sight of school paraphernalia in shops in July that signals light at the end of an exhausting tunnel. Others curse the retailers for stealing summer and feel genuine heartbreak come September because they’ll miss their children terribly.

Or so I believe. I’ve not met any of the latter type but I’ve heard tell of one or two.

There are differing schools of thought – if you will – on the whole business. Like most, I fall somewhere in the middle. I feel the deluge of emotions at the start of term; worry about new teachers and class dynamics; disappointment that the summer is over and guilt that I didn’t make the most of it; pride in my offspring bounding once more towards uncharted territory, undaunted. All the usual mom feels.

It’s an emotional melting pot but, when truth be told, there are only two feelings really at play here; two that muffle all the others; two that battle it out for the top spot on the podium of emotion: dread and relief. Every parent feels the dread in September. Every parent feels the accompanying relief. Emotions in conflict. Turmoil. Which dominates?

WHY SUCH DREAD ANYWAY?

The School Run 

I’ve alluded to the plight of the school-running parent before. One cannot underestimate the pandemonium that ensues when 400 minors need to be released at a central hub within 7.5 minutes of one another by tired, under-caffeinated parents. It’s hard to imagine the utter chaos created by countless cars, rushing parents and Irish weather until you’re in the thick of it. Nothing makes parents question their life choices more than the school run on a wet day. Add to that the fact that the journey may have to repeated up to three times on any given day – depending on preschool hours and finishing times – it makes for the ultimate parental Groundhog Day experience.

The Lunches

The word ‘lunch’ is loaded with all sorts of yummy possibilities and has altogether positive connotations in EVERY OTHER context. School lunches are the true exception. Whether you make them the night before or first thing, there’s little to contend with the soul-crushing conveyor belt of cheese slicing, fruit chopping and box packing. Plastic containers smelling of compost and sour milk arrive home daily with discarded crusts, abandoned mottled sandwich fillings and Frube remnants. Bottles leak over books and forgotten, fermenting oranges remain undiscovered. Someone else’s kid got Nutella. Drama.

The Uniforms

There’s no room for slackers in the laundry game during term time. Whether you prefer to spot clean with the edge of a dish cloth or go full on Dot Cotton midweek, there’s still the matter of making sure little ties and jumpers don’t get lost/torn/accidentally put in the bottom of the freezer. Nobody cares but you.

The Homework

It will involve coaxing and cajoling. It may involve tears and bribery. We’ve got to suck it up though; this thirteen-year battle isn’t going away anytime soon.

The Illnesses

Other people’s diseased kids will, of course, bring all kinds of nasties into school on virus-ridden hands and stationery. Worms, flu, pox, vomiting bugs… there’s always a risk. Come September we’ll arm them with multivits, send them into the germ-infested trenches and hope for the best. If home schooling is the alternative, we’ll take our chances. How bad can worms actually be, right?

THE RELIEF THOUGH…

And Breathe

Working parents are no longer required to compete for and juggle pricey summer camps and activities so that they can make a half-hearted appearance at work between pick ups and drop offs. People are willing to look after yours and everyone else’s kids for the majority of the day! No questions asked. Freebie childcare for the win! You can go back to doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay instead of attempting to slope in and out of the office unnoticed by Brenda from HR. 

Silence is Golden

Parents at home can look forward to hearing the sound of their own thoughts again in an environment that’s unpolluted by rescue pups and half-eaten rice cakes. Calm is restored. Tea is consumed at reasonable temperatures. Holly and Philip are welcomed back with the warmth and fervency of old friends at an overdue reunion.

Normal Programming Resumes

Summer looseness is a thing of the past and that disconcerting lack of structure to days and nights is no more. Rules and routines abound. Screens are limited, homework is scheduled, meal times are rigid and bedtime is non-negotiable. Alarms. Order. Regime. Harmony. Joy.

We have a winner.


How do you feel about the return to school? No one here will judge if you did this. You’re in a safe space…  

All images via giphy.com

Disclosure: I love my kids and yes, I miss them. But I may have done the dance. Just a little. 

Note: Does not apply to sending kids to school for the first time. That’s a whole other emotional mindfeck.

Care to share your own rollercoaster of emotion in the comments? How is this time of year for you? Are you enjoying the routine or crying lonesome into your tea lamenting the sound of your children’s laughter in the empty halls? 

How do we REALLY feel when those school doors open at the end of a long summer? Here are some back-to-school truths from a parent's perspective.

I’ve linked this post with #bloggerclubuk , #coolmumclub and #kcacols

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46 Comments

  1. There’s going to be more laundry? More. Eugh you have burst the bubble of a parent whose child has not started school yet #bloggerclubuk
    Briony recently posted…Feeling Calm #78

    • Sinéad Reply

      Apologies, Briony! Forewarned is forearmed and all that! 😉

  2. Oh God, you’ve just reminded me that homework is a 13-year battle!! I did the dance anyway. Hooray for routines, with or without laundry. Brilliant post Sinead x

    • Sinéad Reply

      I’m really not spreading the joy at all, am I Cal? Lol. 🙂

  3. Lorrayne Bradley Reply

    Very true words Sinead and we’ll written as always. More fool me who got to the end of the drudge and willingly put myself right back at square one!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Lorrayne, I think of that often. Brave woman for sure! Hah! Sure we love it all really! 🙂

  4. I’m only leaving one to pre school but it’s like running a marathon every morning…. packing 3 into the car to drop one off! Maternity leave used to be a nice, relaxing time… I JUST DIDN’T APPRECIATE IT FIRST TIME ROUND!

  5. I was one of the rare ones not wanting school to start…only because I’m lazy and hate lunches, early starts, homework and uniforms!!

  6. Ahahaha, silence is indeed golden until you find yourself talking to yourself and when you going for a wee having a panic mid-wee because you realise the house is too quiet and then you remember that they are at school now. Win!

  7. This is absolutely bang on – dread mixed in with relief…..my daughter goes back on the 20th September though so we are still in no mans land! Loved this post and the new look blog header by the way. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub hon xoxo

  8. Sinéad Reply

    Thanks Tayla! I’m kind of in love with the header myself! 😉

  9. It’s the school run. I’m telling you, it’s the school run. It’s EVERYTHING that’s wrong with the world! 😉 :-p Loved this post – can relate to all of it! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope to see you again next time!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Haha. It really is. Sucks the life force right outta ya, Sara!

      • Sinéad Reply

        Although my Junior Infant is complaining that she doesn’t have any homework yet. She’s dying for it! How long will that last? 😉

  10. lol yes sending them for the first time is super emotional! I’m not a fan of the laundry or making lunches either. Not fun times. The bit of freedom and headspace is a big plus though! Great post, I loved the gifs! Thank you for sharing with us at #BloggerClubUK

    • Sinéad Reply

      You can’t put a price on parents’ headspace. Fact! 😉

  11. I start school on Monday and my mummy feels a little bit of regret that she didn’t travel enough with me while I was still young. Now she’s caught in the school holiday trap. I’m sure she will be emotional in a couple of days but definitely doesn’t feel dread thankfully x Popping over from #BloggerClubUK

    • Sinéad Reply

      I think all mums have those regrets! Hope the new school start goes well for everyone!

  12. My daughter is year 4 and my son year 2, I am a seasoned school mum now, I know where to park to get a space every day and I know how to make the school clothes last all week…I love the holidays, for about 3 weeks, then I run out of patience and the kids run out of love for each other. September is a God send! #kcacols
    Amy recently posted…Flawless Flooring Choices For Each Room In The House

  13. Sinéad Reply

    Hah. Bang on with the timeline there. Three weeks before it all starts falling apart! 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      I would SOOOO throw money at that problem too! Not the done thing here unfortunately. Really wish it was!

  14. Oh Shinners, I love this!! You are bang on with all of it. Not gonna lie, I did the happy dance.

    • Sinéad Reply

      I’m still doing it! Usually with my 10am coffee! 😉

    • Sinéad Reply

      How’s it all going? Settled in OK? Big step and huge changes for little ones.

  15. I feel your pain! But I also saw a line of people outside the uniform shop right before school started. That is so stressful! What if they ran out? I also left it to the last minute to get my son’s blazer from the cleaners! Have a great year! #KCACOLS
    kid can doodle recently posted…3 & 1/2 Questions: Sarah McIntyre

  16. Pingback: #COOLMUMCLUB LINKY...week 76 is here! — Motherhood: The Real Deal

  17. Haha I wrote a post on this too. It’s such a mixture of emotion. I love having them at home but it really is so hard to keep them entertained when there’s no routine and all the normal term-time clubs aren’t running either.

    Congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #blogcrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush
    Lucy At Home recently posted…The School Holidays: Did I Fail You, Little One?

  18. I was always the parent who didn’t want the holidays to end!

    My first son sailed through school but it was not a great experience for the second one so we home educate him. I love the end of the school holidays now though as we get our quiet places back again! #KCACOLS
    Rachel George, Ordinary Hopes recently posted…When did things change?

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