Sunday 2 September 2012

ARCHIVE: Back to School

As the season turns and the new term begins, here are two posts about going back to school. Jon's from last year and another tomorrow from the newly-returned Social Reporting Project (CDC)

It's back to school week, and, my goodness, I'm frazzled already!

I imagine parents all across the country are feeling the same way, as the holiday memories fade and they're having to tackle the daily school run with the kind of military-style planning normally reserved for invading foreign countries.

Sometimes the kids wake up and bounce straight out of bed; other days they just want to hide under the covers, and all you get is a plaintive "why are you being so mean to me?" as thanks for trying to get them washed and dressed. On those days, you can suddenly find yourself trying to feed them weetabix with one hand, brushing their teeth with the other, whilst simultaneously trying to get them out of the door. And all this mainly because you're desperate to get into the office on time so that you can get your job done before you have to race out again to pick them up from school or the childminder, get their tea, get in some "quality time", pyjamas on, brush hair, brush teeth, again, (weetabix optional this time), read a bedtime story and get them into bed.

Phew, job done. Until it all starts again tomorrow morning.

While making the packed lunches this morning, I heard a report on the radio that Britain's children want more time, and less stuff. Apparently, Britain's parents are desperately trying to make up for the lack of time we have to spend with our children, by buying them material possessions that our children, according to the report, neither need nor want. It really struck a chord, as no doubt the timing of the report meant it to.

I'm not complaining as such - after all, as my (child-free) friends remind me, I chose to be a parent - but it's quite a balancing act. Society encourages us to rush around and fit everything in - jobs, family, hobbies, so-called "me time". I can see it's going to take a lot of effort and focus to be able to build in real, quality, family time. As the BBC article suggests, there's a real disconnect between what the economists and politicians say the country and its people need, and what we may feel, perhaps instinctively, we need.

Balancing those imperatives may require more than military-style planning - it may require a revolution in the way we juggle our work and family lives.

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