AS thousands of mums nationwide dropped children off to school over the past few weeks, 63% drew a sigh of relief and admitted they secretly looked forward to back-to-school time.
This is according to research from parenting website MummyPages.ie, which found a whooping 91% relished the return of school because it meant getting back into routine.
“After a long summer [during which] stay-at-home-mums (SAHMs) try to keep children entertained and working mums schedule endless summer camps, back-to-school is an opportunity for everybody to have more balance in their day,” says mum-in-residence at MummyPages.ie Laura Haugh.
Indeed, 34% of mums were delighted to have some free time for themselves, while 30% said it’s easier to manage mum’s work life, childcare and household when children are at school. Four in 10 mums said it’s exhausting trying to entertain kids during summer holidays, while 17% said school is less expensive than summer activities.
But back-to-school isn’t all plain sailing for mums, especially when it comes to making connections with other mothers. While 5% knew all the other mothers, 76% said they were acquainted with some of them and 19% admitted it was difficult to make a connection with other mums at school drop-off.
Little wonder, says Haugh, who describes school drop-off time as fraught. “Some people aren’t good at mixing and introducing themselves. Children are looking for last hugs and kisses. People have other commitments — babies to feed or work to get to. Most parents are dropping children into a line — it could be raining. There’s no opportunity to have a casual conversation.”
Sometimes mums create their own difficulties by putting up barriers – the survey revealed 20% feel judged by other mums for being a SAHM or ‘working mum’ at drop-off/pick-up.
“The SAHM turns up in jogging pants because she’s going home to do the housework. Another mum’s professionally dressed with hair and make-up done. There can be a sense of competition between the mums that’s more of a perception— it’s usually based in insecurity,” says Haugh, who believes the reality is that each mum covets something of the other’s lifestyle.
She warns against slipping into stereotyping of our fellow mums. “Just talk, put yourself out there, break down barriers. Mums are a force to be reckoned with — they should stick together.”