I’m not going to pretend that I’m a lover of Autumn. All those memes that go around Social Media about being done with summer and ready for pumpkin spice, sweaters and crunchy leaves underfoot were not made with me in mind. Except for pumpkin spice hair colours on Pinterest. As a sometimes redhead, I can totally get on board with those.

If moaning and complaining is ever considered a form of stoicism then I have a totally stoic approach to switching my flip flops for boots and turning the heating on. This year I’m moaning and complaining being stoic about the illnesses that accompany the change in season. Any parent of school aged children will probably be with me on this one. If I ever thought the six weeks of summer holidays were a long time I take it all back in light of Covid-19 and the six months of kids being off school.

To recap what those six months looked like:

Endless meals – our house seemed to be a 24 hour cafe with weekly food bills which were equal to the national debt of a third world country.

Homeschooling – there is not enough Gin in the world to wipe this experience from my memory and it has convinced me that teaching is not ever going to be a career choice for me.

Absence of bedtimes – without a routine or anywhere the kids needed to be, they managed to drop bedtimes at approximately the same speed of a bullet leaving a gun and no-one ever seemed to go to bed (including me and my partner).

Being stuck in the house all day long – I love my house, really I do but it’s wonderful to go out to the big, wide world, other peoples’ houses, just anywhere which isn’t home.

So it was with more than the usual glee, thanks to God and the school for reopening in September that I got school uniform, bags and children ready and dropped them at the school gates. FREEDOM! For 6 blessed hours a day. It couldn’t have come sooner for us. Life could now go on, albeit a mask wearing, socially distanced, hands raw from washing life. For the first 7 school days I revelled in the freedom; the house was silent, at lunchtime I only had to feed the baby, not the masses and there was time to think and move without having children chattering away at me. 7 days. That was all, then the illnesses hit. Not Covid, thankfully but coughs and colds which held enough clout to knock the kids out and keep them off school. FML. My eldest child was off for an entire week. The middle one was off for a day then we figured out there was nothing wrong with him other than exhaustion from never bloody going to bed. He was swiftly dispatched back to school where he has remained ever since despite making up illnesses in a bid to stay home. My favourite being last Friday when he came into my room with a forced cough and, the piece de resistance: a limp.

After being entirely sure that it was only a cough and cold, once he was recovered my eldest son went back to school. For 7 days. Seriously. As I write this he is on his second day home from school with another cold and cough. Now I know we’re not meant to view compulsory schooling as free childcare but 14 whole days in over 6 months and I’m starting to feel a bit cheated. Whilst I’m thanking our lucky stars that as a family we are all Covid-free, this year has cemented my bad feelings towards Autumn which quite frankly, can do one. So the next time someone creates a meme about sweaters, crunchy leaves and pumpkin spice don’t forget to add ‘and illnesses which keep children off school for ages’.