How did they get so big?
What happened to my baby?
School just seems so big and so scary!
How will they possibly survive their first term?
And’s what more how will you survive it?
Having been through it, these are my thoughts. It’s not a massive check-list of must dos for academic success.
Or miracle cures for everything that might go wrong.
It’s just a few simple truths I wish someone had told me.
Or rather – ‘cos I’m sure someone did tell me – that I’d actually listened to …
1. They Are Still Only Little
Yes, they just got all big and grown up and are starting school.
But really they are still only little.
They will have to be grown up all the long day at school, sitting still, remembering rules, getting to the loo on time.
So they desperately need the chance to be little again when they get home.
And they desperately need the freedom to play in their own special way without anyone telling them what to do next.
And they need cuddles. Enormous, enormous amounts of cuddles.
Cuddles in the morning. Cuddles when they get home. Cuddles at bed time.
Because it’s the security of our unconditional love more than anything else that gives them the confidence to flourish in the big new world of school.
2. It’s OK Not To Like School
And we all want our kids to flourish at school.
Of course we do. But you know what, I’m going to be radical here and say there are an awful lot of good reasons for kids NOT to like school.
Good reasons to cling to you and cry at drop off. Good reasons to be a bit bored and miserable at home time. Good reasons even to get into trouble.
Because, for some little kids a new world with new rules is overwhelming.
For other kids full of boundless energy, sitting still(ish) all day is excruciating.
For the kids who live in their own little world, a daily timetable of must dos feels like a military attack.
For the shy, quiet kids, the noise of 30 other children is deafening.
Being the mum with the bawling child clamped to their leg every morning is heart breaking. But, and this is the hardest thing, there isn’t actually anything we can do to make it better.
Except be patient and let them feel our absolute and unconditional love.
And for most kids who are struggling, this will get them through the first month or two – yes, it can take that long – until they find a way to cope with a place they may always find a bit difficult.
(I’ll be sharing more about this over the next few months so if it’s something you’re worried about do sign up for our newsletter).
3. The First Term Is Long!
Some kids on the other hand do absolutely adore school.
My big sis loved it so much she would cry if she was too sick to go!
But the first term is seriously long even for those children enjoying it. And come November they’re exhausted and magnets for every germ going.
Now I am absolutely not about to suggest that you should encourage your kid to skive off school.
But you know them best.
If they are showing all the tell tale signs of getting sick, one day of rest and TLC to help them fight it off is better than the whole family being down for a week with flu.
4. You May Get Scared, Seriously Scared
Now onto you!
Let’s be honest, we all carry a lot of baggage about school.
The trauma of the playground. The teacher who scared us witless.
And these demons may well rear their ugly and deeply disturbing head.
So added to very rational worries about the massive milestone of our kiddo’s first term, we get to re-enact our own personal psycho-drama of everything bad that ever happened to us at school.
Cue a double dose of anxiety dreams, tummy turning panic and crazy mum behaviour that works its way out in the weirdest of ways!
The thing to know is, you are not alone!
You’re not losing your marbles.
It’s just a mum thing. It can be horrid, but it will pass.
Be gentle with yourself
5. You’re Going to Drop Stuff
And you really, really need to be gentle with yourself, because you are, I promise, going to drop stuff.
Possibly big stuff.
Particularly if you’re working.
Because there’s no more post-work, day-care pick up. You’re suddenly expected to drop everything mid afternoon and be there for your little one. Or engage in an endless search for half way decent post-school child care.
And there’s the meetings. The literacy meeting. The numeracy meeting. The meet the parents meeting.
And there’s the book bag. The beloved book bag that transmits daily, gentle reminders of costumes and cake and forms and assemblies and other little things that you really must not forget, mummy!
But you will. And you will feel like a complete heel. The worst mummy ever.
And in the raised eyebrows of colleagues as you arrive late and leave early – again – your whole career may feel like it’s going down the pan. Fast.
And I’m sorry – like I said at the beginning – I don’t have a magical cure for this stuff. Except again to tell you, you are not alone.
You are not a failure.
It’s not your fault.
There are mums the world over juggling the same balls.
This is motherhood in the 21st century.
It’s a crazy, crazy ride but that beaming smile on your kid’s face as they run into your arms at the end of a long day at school makes it all worthwhile.