Do you hear it?
It's the final days of the school holidays, and there is a buzz of excitement mixed with boredom in the air.
After a long six weeks, the kids are ready for the routine, and the parents are even more ready.
If it feels like the longest week in the world for most, then that would be because it is. While teachers returned to work on Tuesday the students don't go back until Thursday.
And, for some high school students, they return on Friday. (Yes, I've been asking myself all week who designed this timetable. Clearly not working parents.)
Of course, most parents can read a calendar and know this week of hell would happen. But the lure of summer holidays meant we drowned out the reality with a glass of prosecco or a dip in the ocean. This was 2024's problem.
The result is a week traditionally known as the 'back to work week,' is actually just a week of survival for most with school-age children.
I'm writing this from Flip Out in North Wollongong while four 10-year-old boys get rid of their energy. No joke, there are three other mums with their laptops out.
It turns out that Flip Out is the perfect place to get a bit of work done when you're in the school holiday twilight zone. There's coffee, power plugs and a good 5G signal for hot-spotting.
Another strategy that has worked these last two weeks is the local driving range - no power points, but it's amazing how much work you can get done to the sound of a five iron pinging a ball across the fairway.
Sending them to the corner shop also works, but the resulting sugar high soon ruins the 15 minutes of blissful quiet.
Of course, this pain will all be over soon. Just a few more hours and our precious ones will be back in the classroom, and they'll be someone else's problem (she half-jokes) for at least a few hours of the day.
So, we should embrace this time, as hard as it is to juggle.
Soon, we'll be once again counting down the days to the holidays, wishing we could all spend a little bit more time together because as much as we're all climbing the walls, we love each other - honest.
- Gayle Tomlinson