Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer term, the home straight - a survival guide

So, half term's been and gone and we're in to the home straight of the school year - just four more weeks.  Which sounds straightforward enough, or is it?

Well, just when you think you've made it there comes the email reminder for three of the most time consuming Primary School based events of the year, which all happen to be in June and July.

If the run up to Christmas wasn't bad enough, what with all the nativity costumes and glittertastic homemade decorations, then this is somehow far worse because you cannot duck out of attending them (or else face your children's sad little faces). I know, I have tried.

1.  Sports Day
2.  The Summer Fair
3.  The End of Year Concert

If these three events in the school calendar are making you roll your eyes at the very thought, as they are me, then here are my tips* for making it through in one piece.

Sports Day

Things you will need for this:  Lots of cold drinks and a loud cheer.

Urgh... Just the very name makes me feel like rocking in a corner somewhere but I'm a mum now and this means only one thing.  I have to sit through every millisecond of bastard well sports day, or else face the wrath of my offspring who will hold it against me until they are in their forties (I know this because I still do this too...).


Don't they know that I'll miss Homes under the Hammer AND Judge Rinder?

I could pray for rain but usually this backfires and we end up with the hottest day of the year instead.

But timing is everything.  Ours is an all day extravaganza - also entitled The (School Name) Olympics - I thought the teachers were joking but no,  it lasts nearly as long and is probably as expensive, if the price of the PTA tea and coffee is anything to go by.

It turns out that while I stupidly did attend all day the first year (it is to be noted that I was also heavily pregnant with twins at the time and therefore slightly brain dead) there was no need - as long as your kids see you there at some point then mine at least seem quite happy with this.

If its warm go only to the outdoor events.  If you venture inside any primary school on a hot day, not only will there be too many people inside to actually see what is going on but you will not be able to breathe - do they suck all the air out of the school hall for maximum parental discomfort or something?

Ergo it stands to reason that if it is raining then I will only attend the indoor portion of the day, which is perfect as it is only about half an hour long...

The Summer Fair

Things you will need for this:  A painted on grin and a second mortgage.

I do not know anyone who, having baked cakes, filled sweet jars, donated tombola prizes and sold raffle tickets for the two weeks prior to this event, is happy about attending it.

From my point of view the £2 entry for adults and £1 for children relieves me of nearly a tenner before I've even seen the inner sanctum that is the school playground.

After that, its £1 for every ice cream, biscuit decorating, milkshake making stall and don't get me started on the charcoal coated burger offerings which have the price tag of a Five Guys.

My tip is to go early and beat the crowds.  Spend an hour doing whichever class stall your child's teacher is running, eat an ice cream and then leave.  Maximum visibility and minimum spend.

The End of Year Concert

Things you will need for this: A winnebago and a good singing voice.

What a joyous occasion the end of year concert is, honestly, I do love it.  I still get a lump in my throat every time I think about DS2 and his classmates singing "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles in Y1 - "do you know this one, Mummy?" *sniff*.  See, I'm not a completely harsh old cow.

What could be nicer than seeing your offspring performing a turn on stage in the open air (yes, ours is an outdoor affair with no ticket restrictions - #winning).  Its kind of like watching Glastonbury only without Jo Whiley and Mark Radcliffe interrupting all the time.  There are of course caveats to that, like the time that the PA system blew up just before it started, or when it went on for ages and we were so hungry we briefly considered ordering a Dominoes with extra hot wings to be delivered to the school gate.

Which brings me neatly on to the best thing about this particular event - you can bring a picnic.  And with that comes the greatest excuse ever for drinking on school premises - Gin in a tin and miniature bottles of Prosecco, because they are picnic components and for some reason this means they are not frowned upon at all.

But there are other things you still need to know too.  Namely, no matter how inviting those Robin Day designed classic school chairs look lined up in front of the stage area, only a fool will voluntarily sit upon one.  They are not conducive to comfort when enjoying one's self (and after several gins in a tin they are really slide-y).  What you need here is the comfy collapsible chair - Aldi Special Buy an advantage because you will only ever use them for this one event.  Alternatively, you could always take one of those fold up picnic tables with attached benches.  I once saw a family arrive with one of these, and listened as all the other mums and dads oohed and aahed at its genius.

Also think about seating arrangements - not right at the front of the stage, no, because remembering the lack of ticket restrictions, you will end up having to wait for everyone else behind you to move when the concert finally finishes (or trip over the tangle of plastic chairs and fancy picnic tables).  That could take hours, so you want to aim for a nice space at the back and to the side nearest the exit so you can pack up and disappear as soon as the head teacher has taken their last bow.

And every year when all of these events are over, I like to breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that there are six whole school event free weeks before the academic year starts again.

Which I suppose gives me plenty of time to get practising for next year.  All together now, "We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, yellow submarine...."

*  not really tips


  1. Love this....My girls school is having the sports day and summer fair on one day. I have offered to help with it....Ugh! lol

    1. Kim, that is amazingly brave of you - you are clearly made of stronger stuff than me! ;). Hope you enjoy it. x

  2. Urgh...I have all this to come and it's already bad in preschool - we've got pirates day coming up soon (WTF is pirates day?!) and over the last holiday we were asked to decorate a smarties tube (so I let my son do it quite badly and then on submission of the crumbling tube, all the other parents had gone all out in some uber parenting smartie tube wars). And I get it, this is just the start, wait till primary school starts...

    1. Hahaha, Pirates day! When DS1 did that, someone sent their child in a full replica Captain Jack Sparrow outfit complete with wig (bought in Florida, natch) - made our ELC pirate dress up look a bit lax really. Laughing at Smartie tube wars too - so glad I don't ever have to do pre-school stuff again, you are sadly right, this is only the beginning!

  3. I still have all this to come although we have just had Jessica's first ever sports day which was just a couple of hours in the morning though! :-)

    1. See, that sounds sensible! Ours is so hardcore, it really makes me want to weep! x


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