We have done it! We have got through the first term and she wanted to go back after Christmas #win. I think we are now in a pretty good place but it has taken some time.
Nursery is one thing but starting school is a completely different ball game. Managing nursery and work was a walk in the park compared to school (albeit a very expensive park!).
Miss A has been in nursery since she was nine months old so I thought the transition to school would be an easy one. It wasn’t! At nursery you can drop off from 8am and pick up until 6pm. But school times are completely different and on top of picking the school you want for your child you then have to check it has childcare and it has space for you. Luckily for me it all worked out but for some parents it must be really tricky.
Emotionally it has been ‘enlightening’, as someone who doesn’t cry very often it has shocked me at how I felt. I basically cried every time it was mentioned to me from midsummer until only quite recently.
While friends with similar aged children were off researching the best place to buy school uniform etc I was in complete denial. I had tips about the best shirts being from Asda and great value uniform in Aldi but I wasn’t ready to see her in a uniform. In the end I bulk bought uniform from the only and only Marks & Spencer along with logo jumpers from Kool Skools (www.koolskools.co.uk) – fair trade and speedy delivery for last minute mums! *BTW – all uniform has been great albeit lost daily*
Anyway enough about uniform. The last few weeks of summer were super busy as I was flying out to the Med for work a lot so forgetting my baby was growing up was pretty easy. But then September came…
The first day was a strange whirlwind. I took the week off work to settle her in to her new routine and I wanted to drop her off and pick her up every day for her first week (potentially a massive mistake as the next week I had to hit her with morning and after school club).
The first day
I spent the morning being ‘over the top’ chipper in a bid to not sob in front of her. I think she picked up on the fact I being a weirdo! Anyway we got dressed in the uniform (I did cry a little at this point but I had pre-warned her I might have tears of happiness!) and did the customary photo at the front door. All of this was ok – it was the walking into school and leaving her there that was the issue. It is so different from the security of nursery. There were 30 kids I had never seen before running riot (potentially a massive over exaggeration) and parents that looked like they were taking it all in their stride. Miss A was just excited that one of her best friends from nursery was there and other than a little leg hugging said goodbye without too much drama. I later found out she had a lovely day – I however spent my day sobbing while watching the clock willing it to be 3.20pm so I could pick her up!
Walking away that first time was one the heart breaking moments as a parent where you have to pretend it is all ok and your chin is not about to start seriously wobbling. In fact, I was trying so hard not to show my feelings that I probably seemed to other parents that I didn’t give a shit…oh hang on…perhaps they were doing the same…
Pick up was weird as no one tells you about their day. At nursery you get a short essay listing what they ate, what they have been doing, who they played with, everything they consumed, how many times they fell over and a full run down of all bowel movements but after school – nothing! I was greeted by a very happy girl who when questioned about her day seems to have developed amnesia. Me: “What was for lunch?” Miss A “Oh…I can’t remember”. Me: “Who did you play with?” Miss A “Can’t remember”. You get the idea. Now this is hard for a mum. You spend years knowing everything and then suddenly radio silence. I was given a top tip since by my boyfriend’s mum of telling her about my day (sometimes fictional ;0/) in the hope she would then offer out snippets of her day. This seems to be working. Another thing I have found works is to ask in front of her class mates as they get competitive about remembering and shouting it out first! Now I think my daughter might be worst than others about passing on information. She spent a week wanting to be ‘Star of the week’ at school and when is finally happened I found out a week later from another mum. When questioned Miss A told me that “she forgot” – standard!
A few weeks back we went to the first parents evening (it is actually an afternoon – just saying!) and saw photos, drawings etc which prove she has been a busy little girl – she just can’t remember it!?
Another thing about the first term of school is the mood swings. I get why kids starting school get tired and need an outlet of their tiredness/frustration/naughtiness (and obviously would rather this was at home and than at school) but man it is tough to handle. One minute she is chilled and happy telling me what she would like for tea and in the next breath is having an emotional breakdown because we are out of bagels! The tips I was given was to focus on the good behaviour and not the bad but when she has drawn over her bedroom furniture with her new school pencil, refused to get dressed in the morning and is ‘talking back’ with a new found school slang then this gets a bit tricky… I would like to say I handled this well but in reality if I could do this over again then I would do things very differently.
So here are my top tips for surviving the first term:
- Voice your concerns/emotion to friends/family away from your child. I held my emotions about it all inside and ended up blubbing like a nutter at every given opportunity in the first few weeks of term.
- Try not to ask them too many questions about it. They have been asked questions by teachers all day and I think they just want some ‘peace’ when they get home. As I said before, the telling her about my day seemed to help in getting her to start a conversation with me without an interrogation. This might seem an extreme word but when asking a four year old “What was your best part of the day?” and her response is “Why do you ask me so many questions?!” then perhaps that is how it feels to them.
- Be prepared – be the mum that gets school stuff ready. Panic buying was not the best idea as I felt totally frazzled that first week panicking about if we had enough socks, vests, the tights would fit, are the shoes suitable etc.
- Let them chill. One afternoon a week after school we just chill. No afterschool club or planned outings. Just playing at home or watching a movie on the sofa. We want to start gymnastics club (still waiting for a place) and this is blessing that we could not start in September as I fear it might have been too much all at once.
- Ask the teachers when you have a concern and get involved. I am now the only parent member of the school PTA but I want to be involved so I know what is going on at the school. Yes takes a little bit of time and effort but it is for my daughter. I now feel that I know some of the staff at the school well enough that I can ask questions and make suggestions.
Please note: this is just my experience of the first term and I am not trying to pretend that I have it all worked out. Jeez for all I know I could be making a right old mess of this – just doing my best. Thanks for reading!