Exam season


Perfection Pending
This post is part of a Parenting Blog Hop hosted by Perfection Pending.


Monday came and went this week in a blur of demands, discontent and unfulfilled desires. Life with three teenagers in the month before exams can be a challenge, although not as much of a challenge for the parents as for the teenagers themselves. I hate to see the pressure that youngsters are put under these days, it is no wonder that so many crack under the strain.

I have reached the stage in my children’s lives where I am often going to bed before they do. Instead of trying to keep the house quiet to ensure that little sleepy heads get their rest (which actually translates as ‘to ensure mom can have a glass of wine in peace’), I am lying in my bed exhausted wishing that my big kids would work more quietly and let me sleep.

Yesterday it seemed that nobody was happy and I needed that early night. We are having the outside of our house painted and the weather is against us meaning that the job is dragging on. I had arranged a walk with a friend that I had to cancel when the decorator decided that he would turn up after all. Obviously it is not his fault that it keeps raining, I know that he is doing his best. Nevertheless it is frustrating for me being unable to make plans and stick to them. He requires access to the house so, until the job is complete, I have to stay in if there is a chance that he may turn up.

My daughter has been offered a fantastic work experience placement at a hospital in Cornwall in July, but it looks as though she is going to have to pull out. She needs a hospital placement and has struggled to find one which makes this turn of events especially upsetting, and at a time when she is under so much pre-exam stress. She had hoped that a friend would be able to put her up, but that has not worked out. July is peak holiday season and Cornwall is a popular holiday destination meaning that accommodation costs are prohibitive. I am convinced that she thinks we are failing her as parents by being unwilling to pay for a hotel room. Once again I am left wondering how ordinary people ever get to medical school.

My elder son refused to eat dinner with us last night because I wrote a note to his music teacher instead of leaving him to talk the issue through himself. If he remembered to do the talking this would not be necessary. Such reasoning cuts no ice with a truculent teen who wants me to back out of his life. Sometimes that boy is the most sociable of all my children, the next minute he just wants me gone. I find his attitude exhausting and dread to think how he sees me.

Younger son is preparing for the first exams he has ever had to take that matter. He is my worrier but seems no more organised than the other two. With two exams today he informed me last night that he needed a maths kit. How can he have prepared without these tools? His older siblings were, thankfully, willing to lend him the required items, but he must have known what he would require more than twelve hours in advance.

Husband was the wise one and spent much of his evening hunkered down in his office while I dealt with each of the mini tornados that blew through the house. By the time all were at peace in their rooms revising I was too exhausted to pick up my book and didn’t wish to cause a disturbance by putting on a DVD.

The children were babies when we decided to do away with broadcast TV, a decision I have never regretted. Over the years we have watched films and favourite shows via DVD, together as a family treat. Now that they are older the kids watch their TV shows on their computers. My little notebook does not have a DVD drive so I use the big screen downstairs.

When the kids hear me turn on the sound system they take it as a signal that we are going to indulge in some family viewing time, which effectively stops me watching much during the week when they need to be concentrating on their studies. It is no bad thing to limit my TV habit, but there are times like last night when I could use a little mindless entertainment. I guess I will have benefited more from my early night.

Preparation for exams has been going on for some time already. They start today for my youngest and continue throughout May and into June for my elder two. I suspect that we will have a lot more days like yesterday before we are through. The pressure is intense for the individuals sitting the papers, but important exams affect the whole family as we come together to offer support and to ease all burdens other than the need to revise.

I am ignoring the messy bedrooms with their floor coverings of ring binders, revision guides and past papers. I try not to complain when shoes, coats and bags are left scattered on the floor as they come and go, heads full of whatever subject matter requires attention that day. I bring them cups of tea, tasty snacks and encouraging smiles in an effort to bolster their flagging spirits. I try to keep up with the never ending demands for new pens and pencils, which seem to evaporate at an alarming rate. I am convinced that I am supplying stationary for half the children in their classes.

For the next six weeks I must try to keep my own feelings under wraps and support my kids. If I dare to voice any complaint they are quick to point out how much harder their lot is, and rightly so. Nevertheless, I will be so glad when we get through and can once again relax and enjoy some free time. I won’t point out that, although the need to sit exams finishes when they leave formal education, if they ever have kids of their own the pressures of exam season will return.








As often happens at this time of year, my life seems to have stepped up a gear. I have a long list of jobs that I need to complete in the next few days if I am to meet other’s expectations. I am not good at coping with obligations that I did not agree to but are presumed accepted.

After the initial wobble when December arrived and I realised that I could not realistically hide under my duvet for the entire month, I have been coping with the preparations for Christmas reasonably well. It will be very low key in our house this year, but the event will be marked. There has been some irritation from my children that I am not displaying the expected enthusiasm; sorry guys, I’m doing the best I can.

I had an added challenge this week as my daughter is attending a conference at a university 160 miles from our home. I have written before about my dislike of driving but, on this occasion, I had to balance my antipathy against the worry I would have to deal with if I sent her on her own by train. The compromise we arrived at was for me to drive her there the evening before and stay overnight in a cheap hotel to remove the pressure of having to complete the journey in a set time. This worked well and I actually rather enjoyed my time away.

With three children and a husband to consider, it can be hard to spend time with just one member of my family. Months can go by without this happening, although I have benefited from two such occasions this week.

On Sunday my husband and I had a meal out together, just the two of us. We do not have regular date nights so this was a rare treat. Admittedly it only came about because we had to bring my daughter home from a Black Veil Brides concert that was due to finish after the last train home had departed. As a trip to the city was necessary we decided to make use of the need to travel and park by indulging ourselves. I still had to cook a dinner for my sons before we left, but it was good to spend time alone with my husband. I almost felt young again.

The late return home after we had collected my daughter, followed by the need to get up for school the next day, meant that I had four hours sleep on Sunday night. This was not the best way to ready myself for the long drive on Monday evening.

I had prepared the family dinner in advance so that all my husband had to do in order to feed himself and our boys was to reheat the contents of a couple of pots. I was impressed on my return to find that they had been washed.

My daughter and I planned to eat on arrival, although I brought along a packed meal just in case we suffered delays or could not find a suitable eatery. I worry a lot about potential problems and feel better if I have contingency plans.

The journey up was exhausting. I am not used to having to drive in the dark and the traffic was very heavy. The unknown roads were confusing at times, despite the many maps and detailed directions that I had printed off. As I had to concentrate hard on my driving I needed my daughter to act as navigator. As a non driver, she struggled at times to understand what it was that I needed to know.

However, we reached our destination after about four hours and were able to walk to a restaurant from our hotel. After a delicious meal we relaxed for an hour or so before settling down for an early night. I slept better and for longer than I normally do at home.

The next morning we spent a pleasant enough couple of hours exploring the university campus before I left my daughter to find her own way into her conference. It was obvious from the many students on site that I was something of an anachronism but, having made the journey, I wished to see what the university had to offer as it is one that my daughter may consider applying to. She showed signs of irritation at my behaviour at times but coped well.

After a picnic lunch I then had to face the drive home on my own. Nobody seemed to have missed me and I was back in time to cook the family dinner. My daughter texted me to say that she was having an awesome time and had made friends already so I do not need to worry about her for the rest of the week.

My week, meanwhile, must continue apace. School finishes for the Christmas holidays on Friday and I still have letters and cards to sort as well as presents to wrap. With one week to go I am struggling to keep my mood up.

However, I am coping. I may not get to the gym as planned, or manage a walk this week, but I should be able to tick off all the essential tasks on my Do List. I also plan to do more writing as that is a guaranteed mood lifter. How grateful I am to have found this outlet for my vacillating emotions.

My house is a mess so I shall now tackle some chores before I face those festive tasks. I hope that your preparations are coming along as you would wish. One week to go and counting.