As the school holidays draw to an end, a collective sigh of relief can be heard throughout the country. Parents begin the countdown until the new term begins and it feels like there's finally light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.
But what are the more definitive signs that school holidays are drawing to an end? Here's just a few to get us started.
1. Parents look frazzled
You see them everywhere. They're trudging through the grocery store looking like zombies, they're sat at the park with a vacant crazed smile and they're catching a power nap at the movies during Moana.
I'm talking about frazzled, broken parents. Worn down by whining, persistent demands and the challenging entertainment schedules, these parents have nothing left to give. The only thing keeping them plodding on is knowing the end is in sight.
2. The rules have been thrown out the window
During school terms, routine means it's easier to set and stick to your rules. No late nights in the week, limited screen time and healthy snacks are the norm. Deviation from these is only in exceptional circumstance.
Cue this time of year and all rules are pretty much null and void.
Screen time is the order of the day just so you can drink a cup of tea in peace. Snacks are usually in the form of any pre-packaged and convenience foods, and you don't care how late kids are up as long as they stay in their room.
3. Bribes are in full swing
Getting anything done with kids is challenging. Simple tasks become bigger than Ben Hur, not to mention stressful. But never underestimate the power of bribery…particularly in these last few weeks.
'If you're good all the way round the shop, I'll buy you a doughnut, chocolate bar, crappy magazine with plastic toy or some random DVD that I'm sure we already have in the back of the cupboard."
4. Drink consumption is high – caffeine and alcohol
The last few weeks of the holidays means every parent needs to adopt some serious survival techniques. So, with sleep ins and peace and quiet off the menu, there's only one thing to do. Turn straight to the drinks orders and lock in those stimulants.
Right now, cafes will be familiar with zombie parents ordering multiple shots of coffee from 7am or earlier. Similarly, the local bottle shop will be on first name terms with parents arriving from 3pm.
5. 'Back to school' purchasing begins
Nothing screams end of holidays like neon 'back to school' signs in windows. It also signals that the buying of new uniforms, backpacks, lunchboxes and shoes has commenced.
And what a joy this is, because going shopping with children is SO.MUCH.FUN.
Dragging them around and negotiating on sensible, practical uniforms and shoes versus branded or 'cool' ones is much akin to stabling yourself in the eye with a blunt fork.
6. Siblings' fighting has reached its peak
Siblings fight at the best of times, but spending concentrated amounts of time together only exacerbates this.
One minute they're nicely together building a Lego city, the next they'll be rolling around the floor using said 'city' as weapons of mass destruction (mainly to each other).
But the arguments aren't always typical. In fact, by the end of the holidays, they just get downright desperate. Fights break out over who'll turn the tap on in the bath, who'll put the milk back in the fridge and whose turn it is to put the rubbish in the bin.
7. Your house resembles a war zone
Any kind of order or resemblance of tidy has long gone out the window. Sticky substances and food remnants are décor of the day, and an obstacle course of toys runs from one end of the house – kind of like tough mudder, but without the mud.
Cleaning or tidying has been put in the overflowing 'too hard' basket, as you realise that even contemplating it's a waste of time when you could be drinking wine instead. By now, you're pretty much used to living in a rat's nest anyhow.
Whether you relate to some or all of the above, just keep in mind one thing. You're not alone. We're all keeping afloat on this sinking ship, knowing that land is in sight. Our only hope is that the remainder of the journey is smooth sailing and not rough seas!
Happy almost the end of the holidays!