Ask Audrey's Back To School Guide

What to pack, what to say and how to deal with teachers. Ask Audrey has all the advice you need to get those children back to school without a hitch. 
Ask Audrey's Back To School Guide

Anyone who fails to score a hair appointment in the seven days before school re-opening is a loser in the game of life.

Back to school!! This is such a big moment for our kids, back among their friends after five months asking if they can play Super Mario Run for the afternoon. (Absolutely. Play it during the morning as well if you like.) We’re not sure how to mark this momentous day on our WhatsApp group Ballinlough Moms Seriously Considering Boarding School. Cliona_NewSmeg is going for prosecco, while Orla_MakeMineADouble is insisting it has to be vodka all the way. The one thing we all agree on is 9:30 in the morning is too early for whiskey, even if you live in Macroom.

Obviously the most important thing when you’re dropping the kids back to school is the state of your hair. Anyone who fails to score a hair appointment in the seven days before school re-opening is a loser in the game of life. I’ve gone to incredible lengths to get a slot in a leading southside salon – I won’t go into the details, but here’s hoping the photos don’t end up on the internet.

The haircut rules are simple. No grey, no perms (too Norry) and make sure your beard doesn’t make you look like the Wild Man Of Ballinhassig.

(This last rule applies to men obviously, along with women in Kanturk.) What about back-to-school equipment? My normal advice here is new Helly Hansen jackets for the kids (nice nod to your skiing plans) and last year’s Helly Hansen for yourself, to fool people into thinking you’re the type of parent who always puts your children first. (As if.) This year is different. 

The must-have for back-to-school 2020 is six-months supply of Calpol. There is talk of thermometer checks at the gate every morning – the last thing you need is Noah and Fiadh being handed back to you because they have a slight temperature. So lash that Calpol into them like a good thing every morning. (Only messing. Please medicate responsibly, and yes that includes yourself before you ask.) 
Another big issue is the holiday conversation at the school-gate. It takes a new form this year – Bitch Brag. This is where you bitch about the price of your staycation to show that you can afford it. ‘They wanted €2 grand for three nights!! We paid it, sure what choice did we have?’ Bitch Bragging about your staycation is perfectly acceptable at the school-gate. Unless of course you live in a tourist town, where it doesn’t apply anyway, because the new nanny is the one with the kids at the school-gate while you get to know your new island just off Martinique. (You’re in the money baby!) 

Sneaking off to Mallorca is a big no-no, you're better off complaining about an overpriced staycation than admitting to foreign travel. 
Sneaking off to Mallorca is a big no-no, you're better off complaining about an overpriced staycation than admitting to foreign travel. 


I’ve had a lot of people on asking what should they say to the teachers. I’d recommend saying absolutely nothing. The alternative is you start off all nicey nicey, but you know the way you are, you won’t be able to resist having a dig about their five months on the couch watching Netflix, and the teacher won’t be able to resist a sniffle followed by two weeks isolation and you’ll be toast at the school-gate, so bad they’ll elect you to the Parents’ Committee as a punishment. 

#BusyBodyHell Lunches will be different this term. 

Half the kids in Posh Cork will bring in some of their father’s freshly baked sourdough. The other half will feel sorry for them – sourdough might be on-trend, but it also tastes like gone-off chewing gum.

The biggest challenge this term is sneaking sachets of sugar into their lunch-boxes, because you and every other parent in Ireland bribed your kids with treats for the past five months and if they don’t get a sugar hit by 11 am, they’ll be up on the teacher’s desk screaming ‘My Mam says ye sat on yeer arses for since March while she minded us at home’. (This will happen everywhere except Sunday’s Well, where a child is more likely to join the majorettes than refer to her mother as Mam.) 

Finally, if I had to give one bit of advice this August it would be delete WhatsApp off your phone. First of all it’s a bit common and the people who really matter are all on Instagram (like me!). Second of all, we’re all fierce busy and the last thing you need is a phone-beeping all day on the parent’s group, with Bitch Bragging, memes of incredibly drunk people because school is back and comments like ‘The teacher had a grand tan, he didn’t get that doing lesson plans all day.’ 
All joking aside, this is a huge day in our kids’ lives. I for one will shed a tear on Thursday morning, after I’ve dropped them to school, probably down to the half bottle of gin I drank the night before because I couldn’t be arsed waiting to start the celebrations.

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