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‘Twas the Night before Term – an ode to parents by Helen Shakespeare.

It’s the night before a new term starts and I’m remembering how I used to feel when my two were still in Primary school. As a procrastinator, the final Sunday was fraught with washing and ironing uniform, making packed lunches and discovering the PE kit was missing items that were too late to order. But the relief of dropping them off and knowing it was a temporary end to the frantic and seemingly endless activities that the holiday time contained. Despite being a teacher, I loved that feeling of, ‘over to you...’. In turn, I could have back, that feeling of being pleased to see them after school.

Now parents nationwide are not only having no break from their parenting but during school hours are having to switch from wearing a parent’s hat to a teacher’s for part of everyday. Aside from any teaching skills, it’s terribly confusing for both parties to have to adjust to the same person providing the teaching, the love, the discipline, the comfort, the food and so on. Many parents are also trying to juggle their own work as well as learn a new way of living in isolation with all the angst that brings. The excitement and relief of a new term starting has - this time - during lockdown, given parents a whole new Sunday night feeling.

With this in mind, I want to encourage you all in the great job you are doing:


‘Twas the Night before Term – an ode to parents by Helen Shakespeare


‘Twas the night before term, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The front doors were closed and the streets were all clear

The bins were all full of wine bottles and beer.


The children were playing on Playstations four

The parents on Netflix or Zoom rooms galore.

They all settled in with their daily routine

Protecting the nation from Covid 19.


When on their devices arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their chairs to see what was the matter.

Tonight was a Sunday, seen as a jewel

Until lockdown brought dread at the mention of school.


Farewell to the freedom and playground goodbyes,

Hello to the hell of the classroom online.

Tasks and assignments for feedback and ticks

And a rousing beginning with athlete Joe Wicks.


Some parents proudly announcing new skills

Others reportedly losing the will.

Would they emerge more fat or more fit?

Or had they decided they don’t give a sh*t?


Dreading the watchful eyes of the staff

As they take on the role, on their teacher’s behalf.

“How come we never learnt that way at school?

Grid methods, chunking and algebra rules?”


How come my child had such glowing reports

When all I get now is disdainful retorts?

Never again will I whinge at the school

When my little angel has broken a rule.


Sleepless and anxious to complete all the tasks

While remotely at work or sewing some masks.

Dressing the top half for meetings on line

While forcing the kids to learn as they whine.


And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the street

The clapping and cheering and pans with a beat,

As I opened the door to tumultuous exhort

Of NHS staff and key workers support.


Among these tough times of self-isolation

We’ve joined as a team, throughout the whole nation.

Sharing and giving not seen since the war

Epitomised in actions from Captain Tom Moore.


So, while we dig deep for our strength and true grit,

Dreading the weeks and trying not to quit,

Look for the blessings, be patient, take heart,

You are being amazing and doing your part.


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