Will My Sanity Hold Out?

There is some irony in the fact that Friday 13th was the start of study leave.  Just as when I did my O and A' levels, study leave provides crucial respite during exams, entitling students to an approved absence from school and requiring them only to go in to "sit" their exams.  The downside, however, is the threat to the sanity of those around them.

With an intense schedule of AS exams for the next two weeks, Teenager No.1 is actually "off" until 16th June.  Already, my time is no longer my own and I miss that.  The average exam is 90 minutes and allowing for travelling there and back, my time to get on with what I want, when I want has been reduced by 75%.  Despite having been here last year with the GCSE's I had forgotten just what an impact it has.

I have followed my own advice from my previous post on Exam and Revision Tips - How We Can Help Our Teenagers and encouraged a good routine, stocked the fridge and been there to discuss not only the revision but also the post-exam analysis, but already I am desperate for some peace as Teenager No.1 stalks me around the house. I can be revelling in some "me time" reading the paper and listening to R4 and he will come in, sit down and start randomly discussing coastal erosion or the impact of migration on the economy.  Even the bathroom, the guaranteed seclusion zone isn't safe anymore, as he tracks me down and sits outside, oblivious to my assurances that "I will be there soon" and pleas to "leave me alone".

My son's work ethic is commendable.  He is conscientious and completely focused on doing well for himself.  I love him to bits.  He is my first-born, my only son and maybe because of our time together after my divorce from his father, we are close.  There is no doubt, however, that at exam time his needs are overwhelming. I knew this and of course it is completely understandable but the shock to my system is no less.  As well as my physical support, he needs mentoring and it is exhausting.  My wings have been clipped and my sanity and patience is being pushed to its limit.

Relaxation time when revising is essential and TV provides a welcome distraction during his breaks.  Invariably it will involve watching either sport, an action movie with a bit too much gratuitous violence or dare I admit it Geordie Shore!  Now I am not here to question my son's viewing habits at nearly 18, but when it is in my space I have a view.

We have a small TV/games room upstairs for the teenagers and their mates which leaves us free to enjoy the downstairs rooms without arguments about what they watch and when. However, this is all forgotten during study leave as he has migrated down to where I am, the result being that my kitchen/living area is regularly consumed by a cacophony of  different sounds that I wouldn't ordinarily choose to listen to and at what I would refer to as, "inappropriate times of day".  The gentle banter of the cricket commentary I can handle, but what post 40 year old wants to listen to the drunken antics of a bunch of young reality stars at 8.30am on a Monday morning? Add to this the fact that he has also decided that he needs to vary where he studies and consequently has taken over the kitchen table for his revision during the day and there is no respite.

He also likes to burn off some stress by going for a run around the block, a strategy I wholly support.  However, when this is translated in to a need for 5 showers a day leaving no hot water for the rest of the family my patience begins to fray.  Plus, the showers are normally accompanied by loud music.  Sometimes I feel as if I have been transported to an abandoned warehouse as club music literally shakes the foundations and sends the snails in the garden running for cover.

Then there is the constant request to accompany him on a walk!  He likes to walk and talk.  Normally this is an activity I relish with my teenagers, as it brings us together and gives me unfettered access to what is really happening in their lives as we chat and laugh about all manner of things. Now, however, it is an opportunity for another therapy session and it is irrelevant whether I might have something else I need to do or if the time is not convenient.  It has to be at his behest.  "Of course darling, if you want to" I respond.  On the rare occasions he does go alone, I cannot settle to anything as I subconsciously start counting the minutes until his return.

As if all this is not enough yesterday presented another challenge in the shape of the answers of the AS Maths paper he had taken only two hours previously being published online. It is challenging enough trying to offer your child supportive assurances that however tough an exam may have seemed, no-one really knows until the results, without having to compete with some faceless entity on social media dashing his hopes.

There are of course some upsides to spending time together and I am sure I will look back fondly on these times in years to come, after all it causes huge merriment in the house around the supper table as my husband and Teenager No.2 ask me "So how is he and how was your day?"  Until these exams are over his wish is my command as I maintain a calm and stress-free zone for him but only 5 days in and I wonder how I will survive the course and more importantly if my will sanity hold out?  Are you in a similar scenario?  If so please let me know how you are coping.




A Cornish Mum

A Mum Track Mind



  1. May 29, 2016 / 1:01 pm

    Make the most of the next few years, although the preparation for them does seem to start a lot earlier than I remember. Becoming a teenager was such a big deal for my daughter and her mates, they feel like they are suddenly so grown up when they get to be 13. Good luck. Thanks for commenting #picknmix

  2. May 28, 2016 / 10:32 am

    I have around 4 years til the first lot of GCSEs and that sounds crazy now that I’ve worked it out! Where on earth does that time go? We’ll be entering the teem years next year.. … wish me luck 😉

    Stevie X Thank you for linking up to #PicknMix

  3. May 23, 2016 / 7:25 pm

    We have a house full of smelly teen boys and the mixture of stress, pressure and hormones is a pretty nasty combination! Early summer is just not a pleasant time when you have revising teens (albeit reluctantly revising)so I feel your pain! Our teens mostly want to lock themselves away in their rooms unless there is food being cooked somewhere of course, so it’s actually quite lovely that yours wants to be with you and spend time together. Silver linings and all that! Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

    • May 24, 2016 / 8:37 pm

      Yes you are right, I should be grateful for small mercies I suppose. The exams will soon be over and then we can look forward to a long summer of other terrible teenage traumas to tax our patience and sanity. What would we do without them? Hope the exams are going smoothly in your house. Thanks for reading. #fortheloveofBLOG

  4. May 22, 2016 / 8:46 pm

    Hee hee – love that this post was so close to my post on ‘how to support our youngsters through exam stress’ on #fortheloveofBLOG linky. Mine is the theory and yours is the reality – it sounds like having an intense pre-schooler around the place again! I love that you have given us the ‘other side’ of the things I mention in my post too – very neat juxtaposition! I suggest the need for being outdoors and walking and spending time with them and you give us a summary of how this is in reality!!! The shower thing made me laugh – who knew teenage boys were so into self-care (though I am a form tutor to Y12s so I should know really, and I am annoyingly enjoying my peaceful starts to the day at school while they’re all on study leave!)? You sound like a fab mum to teenagers – I hope my boy wants to be with me so much when he’s 17. Great blog post. x

    • May 22, 2016 / 10:34 pm

      Yes and the irony is that only a few days before I had posted my own advice on what to do. but as you say the reality is so different. I didn’t want to sound unsympathetic but it taxes the best of saints i feel. You must have some great insights to share – a behind the scenes view of what it is really like with these Y12 boys?? Frustrating but funny, just like being a parent really. I am glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting. #forhtheloveofBLOG

  5. May 21, 2016 / 5:23 pm

    My son has no college on Mondays or Tuesday, so he is at home making it more difficult for me to get stuff done. He wants me to drop him off places, wash a weeks worth of clothes that have appeared from no where and make lunch and snacks for him.
    I love him to bits, but some days he drives me nuts lol.

    • May 21, 2016 / 8:05 pm

      I know it is like we don’t have a life and have to drop everything and when they say “but what else would you be doing?” why are we suddenly lost for words? We will miss them when they are gone. #fortheloveofblog

  6. May 21, 2016 / 2:41 pm

    Haha! oh I feel for you! I get ‘punished’ with ‘Catfish’ and ‘teen moms’ daily so I understand the pain there lol – and the music in the shower… why oh why does it have to be so bloody loud?! I have a couple of years till the exams and after reading this I think I might just feel the same way as you! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • May 21, 2016 / 8:04 pm

      I am sure we were the same but I just can’t remember it. From what I have read of your posts so far it will be a undoubtdly be a funny time! Get ready. #fortheloveofblog

  7. May 21, 2016 / 1:14 pm

    A great read, exam time is challenging for every generation. Great to hear that he likes to distress by being physically active. It gets the endorphins flowing so is an excellent strategy.

    if all else fails, I tend to find a good dose of sanity in a G&T.

    • May 21, 2016 / 8:01 pm

      The husband walked in the other night and said “wine on a thursday? really?” as we try to do a dry week….but it was necessary x

  8. May 21, 2016 / 12:09 pm

    It is relentless pressure isn’t it? As soon as they finish this round of exams they are back into school to start on the A level coursework and then University Open Days. Madness. Like you, I refer to all the inadvertent pressure on us tongue in cheek, as of course they need us to be shouldering some of the stress too but it is definitely tiring. It seems crazy your daughter was told so late she could opt out, it’s always hard to know what is the best thing to do but when it’s that late in the day that is stressful. Good luck – there is light at the end of the tunnel. #picknmix

  9. May 21, 2016 / 10:17 am

    Oh I feel your pain – My oldest is doing AS levels – just as I’d forgotten the trauma of GCSEs up pop the AS – it’s too much pressure – not just for them but hugely on us – I say that tongue in cheek really as it’s part of our role but it takes its toll all the ‘no stress here, no stress here!’ fiasco that us mums have to ensure. We had the added fiasco that the English AS they were given the option to opt out as becoming a full A level from next year so after months of hard grafting my daughter was stressing at 10pm the night before the exam whether to opt out – not the best way to prepare for an exam – I felt stressed for her so I totally hear you about sanity! Hope the next week goes OK for you – roll on normality! #PicknMix

  10. May 20, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    I am not in the same boat sorry but I just wanted to send my well wishes for his exams x

    • May 20, 2016 / 11:07 pm

      Thank you. At least you know what to expect. Thanks for commenting. #coolmumclub

  11. May 20, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    This really made me giggle. I never really thought about what exam time is like for a parent?
    Hope they make it through without facing any resits, for your sake 😉
    Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

    • May 20, 2016 / 8:21 pm

      I have spent the last week asking myself whether I was the same. If so my poor mother. I must make a note to check. #coolmumclub

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