Back to school exhaustion sets in

The return to school should have made me less tired, but all changes to a routine require a period of adaptation.

Tired woman pouring coffee


I don’t know what it is, but I feel more exhausted now the kids are back at school than before. Part of it could be that adapting to new routines takes time. It’s harder for the kids as the teenagers have got used to getting up at around 9.30 and getting up at 7 is a bit of a shock to the system. I have to go in several times before I even sense the smallest bit of movement and people have taken to napping when they get home from school too. Daughter three said she was asleep in form time the other day…

Then there is a heavy emotional toll when it comes to any of these Covid upheavals. For the kids it is adapting to being with people again – the good and bad of that. Only son emailed two words from IT class the other day: “School sucks”. For the teenagers there has been a whole round of testing and yet more uncertainty about their assessed grades. Daughter three went straight back to tests from day one. Daughter two had a couple of days’ respite, but has mocks in April followed by more mocks in May.

“What they need is a year just putting on musicals,” said my brother, who is a history teacher in Argentina, “not more stress.”

Everyone is slightly on edge. There have been several rounds of tears. Daughter two has referred to the testing system as ‘child abuse’.

For parents there are all the back to school emails from the different schools to keep up with and trying to understand the different protocols [for instance, staggered pick-up time changes; PE days – when they have to go in in PE kit; Covid hometesting sites you have to register on; speed parents evenings where you get four minutes on a timer to talk about all your worries about the testing stuff…].

Then there is the return to the pick-up and drop-off regime – in our area roadworks were in place the moment schools went back. Working out the pick-up regime when you have three kids and the staggered leave times keep changing is an art in itself. Next comes the anxiety about the GCSEs and A Levels and trying not to show that anxiety to your kids in case it makes them even more worried.

Add onto that a certain inertia due to lockdown and not having taken time off for months because what’s the point. I’ve spent the last days writing about the early days of the pandemic and I’m almost missing all those social zoom calls that we did in the first months when it was experimental, even though I hardly turned up for any of them.

At some point we all need a break, but there’s the nagging fear that everyone is going to want that break at exactly the same time and that some of us will have to wait. I’m not sure I’ve got any wait left in me.

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