Musing,  Parenting

Brain Food For Exams

Today is the first day of the State Examinations here in Ireland.  We have 2 sets of these exams. The second set, which we sit at the end of our time at second level school are the more important because for most ultimately they determine third level choices.

So in honour of the exams I’m going to share with you a little secret and I’m writing this down now in the hopes that I remember my mother’s sage advice when the 13 year old starts her State Examinations this time next year.

PS. I feel old!

I tend to work around the house with the radio on in the background. Yesterday I noticed a lot of advice from parenting experts about how to prepare your children for the exams.  Their advice was great, included tips about last minute study, getting ready for the day etc, making sure you get the right nutrition.  However I did notice that 2 things were missing from the advice.

First up, the glaringly obvious!

If you’re stuck in an exam hall for hours on end, sitting down you’re going to need to exercise everyday.  Your brain may be tired but your body probably isn’t.  It’ll help with going to sleep at night. Trust me!

Try to walk home from the exam hall if you can. If you take the bus, get off a few stops beforehand and take the long walk home. Breath the air in deep and it will do you the world of good. Even if you feel like crawling into bed and pulling the duvet over your head.

Now to brain food for exams.

I’m not going to lecture you about nutritional values or balanced diet.


On the afternoon of my first day of the exams, my mother handed me a banana. Identical to the one pictured below.

Essential Exam Nutrition

I fell about the place laughing. She was doing her best to make sure I ate well.

My blood pressure went down. I lightened up a bit. The stress eased. I smiled.

Remember it’s not just about the physical.

As parents we often meet the food/heat/nourish elements physically for our children but we also need to nourish the brain with laughter.

See can you crack a laugh out of your teen over the course of the exams. It’ll do them the world of good.

PS: Mam gave me a banana each day with the afternoon’s exam details scrawled on it. A happy memory that still makes me chuckle.

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • Carmel Murphy

    I must do the Banana tomorrow for my 2 girls who are doing the Leaving Certificate. Great tips – thank you so much and yes if we can get a laugh out of them it will make it easier for parents/guardians and those doing the leaving

  • Liana Drummond

    I know the banana is meant to make you laugh, but because I am a mum it filled my eyes with water 🙂 Lovely touch! Little things like this we don’t forget, uh?

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