Ask Grainne | School Projects and Sleepless Nights

Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.


Dear Grainne

Building School Projects at 2am

What is the deal with primary schools and their quota of homework and ‘projects’?



Finland and Japan have been fine for decades with zero homework.  Why can’t kids learn everything they need to learn during school hours? 

When we collect our kid and come home from work myself and the wife would like to spend some quality time as a family. Maybe do a bit of football down at the park, read together, play a few games on PlayStation before tea and then toddle off to bed. But no, Monday to Friday at our house we enter the battle of wills that is homework.  Our son is exhausted by school once we pick him up (he does after-school in the school because one of us doing part-time isn’t an option). He needs his downtime the same way we do.  But instead of this, we get homework, endless recaps of information he already learned. Lately, we spend more time arguing about doing it than doing it.  By bedtime were all bloody stressed out.

Then there are the projects. Hello building Egyptian pyramids till 2am (because we had to specially order in the kit and by the time it arrived the deadline for delivering it came too). Googling amazon for Norman gear. Yeah, that’s us too. I can’t remember my parents ever being asked to do this stuff and we all turned out ok. What is the deal with Homework and school projects? Do teachers just have it in for working parents? Does it get any easier once they go on to secondary?

Yours fed up Dad.

Dear fed up Dad.

I’m a great believer in letting them do it themselves. Yes, the teacher will look at the incomprehensible scrawl and think to themselves; well they must have shit parents but really who the fuck cares?  Most of them don’t have kids, but even if they do they finish work at 3.30! They seem to think we still live in the 1950s and have nothing better to do than colour in some pictures of the Virgin Mary getting come onto by the holy ghost!

If they want Egyptian pyramids give the kids a cereal box and get them to make it. Why would you even bother ordering something? It only going to end up in the green bin like all the other “artwork” they bring home.

I am sorry to say it does not get better in secondary school, but you are no longer able to do any of the homework so you have a reasonable excuse. The secondary teachers will just think you are thick instead of lazy. Go with thick, it will save you a lot of stress in the long run and they have stupid ways of doing sums now that make no sense.

In answer to your final question, yes teachers do have it in for parents. They think we all work in jobs we love and get paid shit loads more than them. The truth is we don’t and don’t get the summer holidays either. I remember having an argument with a teacher who applied to work with a company for a year to develop her skills. You would have wanted to see the face on her when she figured out this also meant working through the summer; oh how I laughed!

They will never get rid of homework because they want us to suffer, they spend their days with 30+ of our little darlings and use it as punishment. The department of education will never get rid of homework because they are all teachers themselves. They know that it is the best excuse they have for being crap at their job. If there is no homework they can’t blame the parents for their failing students.  When little Johnny ends up with an F in German they will pull out that shit cereal box pyramid and use it to support their argument that the reason is his uninterested parents, and not the fact that they spend German class checking out Facebook and putting on false tan! 


Dear Grainne

I Don’t Want to ‘Sleep Like a Baby’. I Want to Sleep Like my Husband

Recently a hospital let us take our new-born home. I am still in shock. I read the books Grainne, but nothing honestly prepared me for the sleep deprivation and exhaustion that comes with being a new mum. I need to sleep.  There is a reason why withholding it is classed as ‘torture’. How the bloody hell do other women get through this?

Also – how does my husband still manage to sleep his way through this? Every night when our baby wakes he rolls over and nods off back to sleep while I handle trying to untangle myself. Negotiating with a crying baby how to latch on in the dark (because God forbid you turn on the light and wake the husband).

Last weekend in my desperation I suggested pumping a bottle and sleeping on the couch (we live in an apartment) leaving him with the night time feeds. He looked appalled. Talked about the benefits of breast milk and the need for mothers to bond.  Then he suggested he could order some ‘take out and give my shoulders a rub’ instead if that might help. It doesn’t. I love my baby, more than I ever thought humanly possible, but I want some shut-eye.  Seriously Grainne, any suggestions? I am at the end of my tether here.

Yours, New Mum.

Dear New Mum

Get rid of the whole husband, he sounds like a dick! But if you are determined to keep your marriage and your baby you are going to have to make a stand.

The moment he gets home from work push the buggy (with baby) towards him and go to bed. Make sure you have fed just before, and tell him you don’t want to see him for four hours. Minding a baby is 24×7 work, why does he think he only has to work 8?

If you are feeding during the night and need to turn on the light, turn on the fucking light! He can go sleep on the couch if it is a problem. Seriously get your shit together and make a stand. Do you think he would be so accommodating if he had pushed a baby out? I can tell you now – hell no!


About Grainne: Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.

*Disclaimer Grainne is not qualified in any way to answer your problems. She doesn’t do feedback but if you want you can leave a comment below or email her at [email protected] We can almost certainly guarantee you she will NOT get back to you, but, one of her cousins who helps her might. Alternatively, you can stalk them directly on Twitter: @Triona_Campbell or @KearneyRoisin or both.

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