After years of doing the school run, I have identified a new phenomenon. I call it the ‘post school slump’ and I’m wondering if this is something other mums and dads face too?
Allow me to explain this strange phenomenon. My children generally come out of school in a joyous mood.
They hand me their school bags and off they go to play. I am left there, reminiscent of a pack-animal, holding all the bags. Once we have to leave the playground, things change.
Tired after several hours of learning, Helen and Izzy will almost certainly start to argue. As the one trying to gently guide them out of the school gates, I become, in their eyes, some bag-carrying, rule-enforcing ogre. This is what I call the post school slump.
Any bickering will generally continue as we make our way to the car. One child will often accuse the other of a hideous offence such as being looked at.
As an experienced parent, I know that you should never ask after a kids’ school day while returning home. Understandably, it’s the last thing they want to talk about straight after school.
Sometimes, however, I feel like I should ask. There may have been a special lesson, a special visitor come into school or my kids been on a trip or something.
After years of doing the school run, I’ve learned not to ask until later in the evening. It’s better to ask a couple of hours later when the kids are relaxed.
If an ice cream van is parked outside the school at the end of the day, an irritatingly common occurrence at this time of the year, well, this simply adds to the tension. The kids will request an ice cream and I will refuse leading to repeated requests in the hope I might eventually give in.
If my kids have been good, they might get an ice cream or lolly bought from a shop at the end of the week, but no way am I buying that chemically-infused ice cream-ish substance every time they request it. Health concerns aside, they’re so expensive when bought from a van.
Come on Jamie Oliver, do us all a favour and get the ice cream vans moved on from outside the school gates. It’s a campaign I’d support.
I’m sure I was exactly the same when I was younger and came out of school at the end of the day. I can even remember coming out of school in a slightly dazed fug, feeling a bit tired and wanting to unwind.
I can’t deny it though, as a parent, I sometimes find this part of the day hard to deal with. Let me stress, it is my problem, not the kids’. If they came out of school and weren’t a little tired and grumpy I’d probably be more concerned.
Nonetheless, I’ve learned there are steps I can take to make things go that bit easier. Helen and Izzy simply need to unwind after a day at school. If the weather is good, I take them to a park immediately after school and after a spell of running around with friends, we can usually return home happy.
Bizarrely, the location I park the car is another factor. If I park right outside the school, we can be stuck in school run traffic for 15 and it can take 45 minutes to get a home (a distance of less than four miles I should add).
Sitting in nose-to-tail traffic for that length of time simply makes things worse. If I park a short distance away from the school, however, I can generally avoid all this and everyone’s mood improves.
I’m also getting better at biting my lip. In the years to come, as both kids get older, I suspect I’ll end up gnawing my bottom lip off entirely.
That, my friends, is the post school slump. Is this something you are familiar with? How do you manage it? For those with older children, how is your bottom lip and tell me, does it get easier once they start secondary school and take themselves to school?