The stockings and the twinkly lights are down.
The school shoes are out.
The PE kits are washed (I think).
Going back to school after the Christmas break feels like a big deal. Not only is there the usual trepidation at the thought of getting back into some sort of routine, but it also involves eating fewer mince pies as well as having to say goodbye to all the tinsel and sparkle that has become a normal part of life.
In recent years I have decided that I am actually quite a fan of January. I like the clearer diaries, the calmer feel, the fact that everyone is too cold and/or too broke to want to do anything in the evenings. I even quite like getting everyone back into a routine……sort of. I’m just not such a fan of being in the routine myself.
I have always been grateful to have a job that works around my boys, particularly now that they are all school-aged – not having to think about childcare options during the holidays is an absolute blessing. But, there is also something challenging about being in the same pattern as your children, because it means that everyone is experiencing those peaks and troughs at the same time. Getting into a term-time routine, counting down to the next school holiday, experiencing the back to school wobbles…..it’s not easy helping your children through it while you’re also going through it yourself. It also makes you feel about 10 years old.
For some reason, the ‘back to school/work’ thing gets worse for me as I get older, and I always find myself starting to feel anxious and getting just a bit snappy as we near the end of the holidays. My boys have spent the last few days playing schools so I am taking this as a sign that they are ready to go back, even if they don’t realise it. But me? Well, I’m quite happy with the lazier mornings. With not needing to get up the minute my children wake. With later breakfasts and time for an extra cuppa.
It is never as bad as I expect once we all get into the swing of things but that initial getting-into-the-swing is hard work. This year I am attempting to conquer my back to school anxiety by focusing on small achievements. It is easy to get overwhelmed these days, simply because there is more coming at us from every angle – activities for us, activities for our children, things we think we should be doing / watching / experiencing / learning. The Christmas holidays are the perfect temporary escape from all of that…..a good excuse to immerse ourselves in lights, tinsel and Mary Poppins and forget about all the pressures from outside.
Getting geared up to re-enter real life is one of the challenges of a new year; and, having failed to tick off very much at all from my Christmas holiday to-do list, I will not be aiming to achieve anything too ambitious this month. There will be no dry January or new year detox for me (there are a lot of biscuits to eat up, after all). My aims for this month are simple – to focus on one task at a time, to keep on top of things as best I can; and mainly, to keep things in perspective.
Happy January everyone – here we go! x