School guilt – the guilt of not being able to be there

So here we are again at the beginning of another school year. Maybe you’re a parent whose child has started school this year. If so, congratulations and welcome to a whole other layer of life admin and potential commitments that you may or may not be able to make.

And school guilt.

It used to be just the Christmas Play and the odd concert that parents felt school guilt about not being able to make. Now there is a whole raft of other school events to potentially trap you in the clutches of school guilt.

You can’t make the Harvest Festival assembly because for some unknown reason it has been scheduled slap bang in the middle of the day. You cringe inside for not being able to help out on the school trip. You lament the fact that for whatever justifiable reason which you think the outside world will snigger at, you can’t lend a hand at the Christmas fair.

Then there’s the call for volunteers for Arts Week, the need to be there cheering for Sports Day, the desperate cry for reading volunteers. And God help me – my own personal nemesis – the bake sales which you will eventually learn to buy for, not bake for. Closely followed by my own personal hell World Book Day for which I laugh in the face of making a costume ba ha ha!

We are so time poor these days

that it’s a wonder we will even get our children dressed and fed these days, as well as manage life and if you’re a working mum, also a job. Let alone have time to scratch our bums or get involved with the PTA.

And let’s not get on to having the class pet home for the weekend. We all know how that one ended up for me!

But the thing is, while helping out at your child’s school trip is the most beautiful, yet slightly nightmare-ish and totally knackering experience you’ll have during the school year, you just can’t do it along with a thousand other things that are asked of you as part of school life.

It’s time to be ruthless!

Yes, you can sit there feeling riddled with school guilt because you haven’t been able to fall over yourself and complete every request and accept every invite jamming up your child’s school book bag.

Or you can can realise that you can’t be everywhere, do everything, and be all things to all people no matter how many life hacks you have up your sleeve….especially when those people are anything to do with school. Not including school mum friends if you’re reading this you know I’ve always got time for you!

If you’re to survive, you have to pick and choose what you can and can not do. Decide where you can and can not be. There is not ten of you. There is one of you. You have to be ruthless with your time.

It’s okay to say no

It’s okay not to be there at every performance. It’s okay to buy instead of make. We expect so much of ourselves in parenthood and when school rolls around it can feel like another layer of pressure to send you into an early grave if you’re not careful.

Don’t let it. Yes, deep down your child would probably love it if you could do X, Y and Z at a drop of a hat. But they would also probably quite like their mum’s sanity to remain in tact too.

So don’t let the school guilt swallow you up and consume you.

Step away from the school guilt now.

Do you suffer from school guilt? Do share in a comment below.


Picture credit: People photo created by yanalya –


  1. I am in my 9th year of being a “school mum” – I used to work all day every Monday and Tuesday and often missed Sports Days etc. Thankfully since I work from home I am now able to make most things as long as they don’t clash. I missed an assembly at my daughter’s school in the summer and she got an award, thankfully she was fine about it but I did feel mega-guilt.

  2. Oh gosh, yes! Another thing to add to our very long list of mum-guilt things! I think you’re right that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it though – we aren’t WonderWoman and are doing the best we can!!

  3. Very much so! Although I suspect I won’t be called upon so much at high school.

    I really felt bad for all the things I couldn’t go to. My Mum used to go if she could, but now she’s no longer here I really felt awful if I couldn’t attend x

  4. It’s super hard on working parents! Life has got so much busier since I was a child. I could feel guilty over so many things – but I choose not to. Although, this wasn’t always the case, it’s hard work to convince yourself that you are doing you’re best!

  5. My eldest is in P5 and my youngest has just started P1. After years of making excuses I’ve finally let myself be persuaded to join the Parent Council. I work part time so can dedicate some time to school, but goodness knows how I would do it if I were working full time.

  6. So interesting to read everyone’s different experiences with school mum guilt – the school mum struggle is real! Thanks for sharing everyone x

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