SATs, GCSEs, A-levels. Whichever your child is taking in the next few weeks, s/he will not be the only one feeling stressed and pressured.

I love the summer term – both as a teacher and a parent. As a teacher, I know that when my year 11 class has done their last exam, there will be fewer late night marking sessions and more time for family. As a parent, I look forward to the kids’ school events, fun outside and the more relaxed pace that life seems to have at this time.

However, before all of those good things can be enjoyed, I have a son who is about to do SATs and 30 teenagers who will be doing their Literature exam in two weeks and Language in about five weeks.

It’s the night before we go back to school and I have deliberately chosen to do no work.

This is not normal for me.

The next few weeks will be a frenzy of last minute preparation and worry and to help me deal with this, I know I need to stay calm and look after myself. I feel a little sad that my only just 11 year old already feels exam pressure and I don’t want my hopes for him to do well to cause him more stress, so I have to watch my stress levels for his sake.

What does that mean? Well, I have good intentions that I hope will last more than this week. Good intentions that I hope will benefit me and my son (and that group of teenagers I mentioned earlier) by minimising the impending stress. Here goes…

  1. I read recently that your kids don’t need you to be perfect, they need you to be happy. And I think that’s really true. I’m definitely a nicer person when I’m not beating myself up because the kids didn’t get their 5 portions of fruit one day out of seven! Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve made time to do the things that make me happy: reading, gardening and eating out – over the coming weeks, I aim to carry on doing these things because I think that will really help me manage my stress.
  2. I’m going to have my days off – yes that’s right, I’m not going to work on my days off – revolutionary right? I’ve spent the last 3 years of part-time, working at home and at the end of last term, I eased off a bit and guess what… the world didn’t fall apart and – you’ll never guess – I was happier (surprising eh?). On a serious note, I’m really aware that my children’s perception of me is that during term time, I work all the time and am therefore unavailable for them – unintentional on my part I’d like to say, but true nonetheless. That needs to change.
  3. Because I know it helps, bedtimes will be routine, food will be healthy and we’ll still make time for reading. Having said that, I’m going to make a concerted effort to encourage my son to chill out, have fun and do the things he loves. He needs to unwind and relax and I don’t want him to get into the bad working habits I have developed (or he may end up writing a blog a bit like this one 30 years from now!).

It’s the night before we go back to school. It’s going to be a tough few weeks, but we can do this and then….