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It feels like it’s been coming for months, but it’s finally almost here. The end of term is in sight and everyone is slightly strung out, having peaked about six weeks ago. It’s been downhill ever since and now they are living on borrowed energy…and so are you. The only problem is you probably don’t get six weeks off to recover. Here’s Workingmums.co.uk’s guide to getting to the end of term even if you have to keep going after it arrives.
1. School goes into overdrive from about May onwards. The teachers have probably been dreaming of summer since February, but the last few weeks of the school year are a frenzy of activity. It is important therefore to pace yourself and your kids in case they burn out on excitement – or panic – at the first hurdle. First comes panic. Exams for older children start somewhere around May and some last until the final week of term. If you have more than one child at school you may end up with the summer term being topped and tailed by test tension with all the drama that that entails. You may not be doing the exams, but it will feel like you have done 100 by the end of term.
2. Next comes sports day and assorted “fun” run days. These generally occur on a day of inclement weather – either a downpour or blistering sun, meaning last minute weather-proofing activities involving sun creams, hats, extra bottles of water, anoraks, wellies and a whole cupboard full of other stuff. If you are very unlucky there could be hail and you may have to dig to the back of the cupboard for the winter stuff. These days will feel like you are packing for the holidays, but with none of the relaxing bit that follows.
3. Then there are assorted events, such as school fetes and plays. Nurseries may also indulge and you may very well be called upon to volunteer your skills. Pick your skill wisely. You don’t want to be up all night mastering marzipan sculptures. Advise your child to volunteer for whatever role in the play involves the least amount of costume design, such as a ghost.
4. Awards ceremonies. This is an opportunity for parental pride if they win, although your child will probably wither with embarrassment at any attempt to show it. If they don’t win, of course, your role is to provide the pep talk about how awards ceremonies are never all they are cracked up to be while recalling countless classic films which failed to win an Oscar – or even a Bafta.
5. End of term parties – these are slightly unhinged, sugar-fuelled affairs as all nerves are totally frayed by the time they happen and sanity has gone out the window. Beware – costumes may be required. A ghost is always a winner [see above]. Woo hoo. Alongside these are the sobfests for year sixes as they say a long drawn-out goodbye to primary school. This begins around the end of Sats and extends to cover the entire rest of the summer term, culminating in mass hysteria on the last day of term.
6. Teacher presents. Oh yes, just when you thought you had got to the winning line you notice all the cards and presents on display in the local supermarket and other parents start talking about end of year presents. They may even organise a joint present whereby you are forced to pay well over the odds for a present which is equivalent in cost to a short family holiday. Suppress the idea that surely six weeks of summer holidays are present enough and get down to Poundland. Tell yourself that something funny will be remembered with much more affection than yet another box of chocolates. Either that or the teachers will think you are a total weirdo and any sibling will pay the price. NB secondary school teachers do not appear to benefit from the teacher present, which may be slightly unfair. You may only indeed have a vague idea of who they are.
7. Of course, while you are negotiating all of the above, work will be going slightly manic as everyone tries to cram every meeting under the sun into a two-week stretch before people start drifting away for summer. You may also have to do double the amount of work you normally do to prepare for any time off you take over the summer, ensuring that you come down with at the very least a bad cold just two hours into your own holiday. Enjoy.