Like many parents, I spent the last few weeks of the summer holidays trying to stretch out the days whilst dodging the inevitable back to school preparations. Ultimately, time caught up with us which meant that I no choice but to shop with my children en masse. Admittedly, we’d left it a bit late this year but we obviously had blocked any previous memory from our consciousness of back to school shopping hell. Because why else did we choose to shop at a time when the stores are full to brimming of other late starters? Oh, the joy of shopping alongside other panicking families, scrambling around in search of missing school uniform and stationary. There was nothing quite like shopping for the Holy Grail of school shoes, ones acceptable to parent, child and school, whilst in the surroundings of other stressed out families. I lost count of the number people we witnessed losing the plot after hearing the fateful words of ‘out of stock’ one too many times.
Ready or not, the new school year waited for no one despite many of us still trying to deal with one of our child’s most important pieces of kit. Of course, I am talking about sustenance and the annual guilt-laden dilemma of school lunches: to pack or pick?
Although I have just returned from a much-needed beach holiday, there is nothing like the feeling of being home again. Sure, the house may still be cluttered with abandoned suitcases and random shoes. The laundry basket is so heavily packed that it is threatening to explode. And there seems to be a light sprinkling of sand everywhere, as if we have been visited by some mischievous beach fairies. But despite facing the unavoidable unpacking fallout and being slightly aware of the stress of returning to work and everyday life that sits in the back of my mind, I can breathe a big sigh of relief. Because there is something unbelievably satisfying about the comfort of returning home, where you can revert back to your customs and how you live your everyday life.
If you are a runner, it is not unusual to be married to fellow runner because like attracts like. Some may attribute this to the law of attraction while others believe it has more to do with sharing the innate ability to overlook mud, sweat and Lycra in a mate. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the time to go for a run together, especially during the working week. Most runners find it difficult enough to find some time to fit in a workout for themselves, let alone trying to coordinate with their partner’s commitments. Add some children with their busy school and social lives to contend with and it is even harder. Which means that a runner will often go for a workout on the same day and even at the same time as their partner but in totally different places. Without knowing, the runs may even take place in unison. And if one of you travels occasionally for work, your runs may even be mirroring each other in different countries.
Unsurprisingly, most runners love nothing more than to talk about their run and compare notes. Which is why no one can resist sending a post-run text with related emojis and GIFs to express how it went. Why wait for the chance to rehash a workout once home from work when you can instantly share with an exhausted face, that you are knackered? Often my post-run texts cross paths with my husband’s and we both know what we will be talking about later, at length, over the dinner table. It’s like getting a text sneak preview before sitting down to the main feature, later. But there are times when our post-run texts do not reveal very much and a similar sounding run may, in fact, be very different. This is never more apparent than when you foolishly try to recreate your partner’s run based on their post-run text.
There has been much focus lately on our environmental footprint and how to reduce food waste in the UK. According the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) charity, the amount of household edible food that is put into our bins and wasted every year is in the region of 5 million tonnes and worth an estimated £15 billion. Wasting food not only contributes to global warming, deforestation and the growing worldwide problem of how to deal with unnecessary packaging waste. It also keeps you out of pocket. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s interest to stop our food from turning into rubbish.
There are many ways that we can cut down on our amount of avoidable food waste (see Spoiler alert). In an ideal world, we would simply not buy more food than is needed and use up every last morsel before it spoils. It has to be said, that this is far easier to do if you have teenagers living at home because their raving appetites makes it more difficult to buy too much food. Even the most packed fridge and cupboards can be quickly depleted, especially if they have brought along their friends.
We are almost halfway through GCSE and A level exams and like many parents, I am finding that the stress levels in my household are still rising. It is difficult for any child to escape from the enormous pressure on them to perform and as parents, we cannot help but get stressed too. Which means that tempers often get a little frayed…It is difficult to gage the mood of most teenagers at the best of times. However, when you add in the extra burden of sitting their final exams, you cannot even attempt to anticipate their reaction to everyday life. Now I must walk on eggshells when I ask about their day and how their revision is going.
Stress can transform even the most innocent comment into something loaded with sarcasm, creating a misunderstanding and the perfect opportunity to blow off some steam. Texting is even riskier. One forgotten winky emoji and now you’re being aggressive. It is no wonder that like most families, we are counting down the days until we reach the summer break.
Although it is difficult for parents to get through their children’s exams unscathed, help is at hand. There are some simple steps that you can take to help them cope better with exam stress. The biggest difference that you can make to their well-being and stress levels is to look at what they are eating and drinking. Are they eating a healthy diet at home? What about at school? Are they skipping breakfast? The Eatwell Guide is a good place to start to see if their diet is up to scratch. In fact, a healthy diet that includes nutritious, balanced meals and snacks will give them long-lasting energy needed to revise and stay focused on their exams. Fuelling up with the right foods will also keep their blood sugar levels steady which helps to keep their mood and stress levels in check.