Aaaand they’re back! When it comes to the whole Back To School thing, I do feel a bit like I’ve been there and done that. This is the fourth time that my eldest has gone back to school and while, first time around, I was wholly unprepared and not ready, there are a few things that I’ve learned along the way and want to share with you.
- There’s no “right way” to feel about the whole back to school period. Some parents weep as they get their children’s uniforms ready, some genuinely jump for joy. Being sad that summer is over doesn’t make someone a better parent. Being happy that your kids are going back doesn’t make someone a bad parent. We all have totally different realities and pressures on us – I have some friends who don’t work, they have older kids, and they have a decent disposable income to spend on holidays and day trips, so of course they’re gutted that summer is over. I know other people who really struggle to cover childcare because both the mum and dad work, they find it tricky financially because holiday clubs can be expensive and they can’t afford to go on holiday, so to them, school starting again is a relief. And I know some people who struggle a bit, but still love the summer holidays because the lack of routine and slowed-down nature of the days really appeals to them and allows them to just hang out with their kids, and go for outdoor adventures in the woods or park. Me, personally, this year? I was jumping for joy because the summer felt like hard work for me and Mr P, juggling keeping our eldest happy around the needs of the babies and meeting all of my work deadlines. But we did it! And basically, there’s no right or wrong way to feel. We are all just living our own reality and feeling how we feel.
- No matter how happy I am that the new school year has started, I will ALWAYS (without fail) well up when I see the small reception kids on the first day. I mean, they look so SMALL. And they look so cute in their uniform. This year, I passed two families taking proud photos of their little one outside the school and by the school sign, and it was just too much for me! Sob.
- Starting the new school year is a big change for kids so don’t be surprised if they’re exhausted and grumpy. My eldest loves school. Like properly loves it. She counts down the days until she starts the new school year and can see her friends again and get back into learning (I don’t know where she gets that bit from….?). But despite this, the step-change from lazy summer holiday mode into term-time mode always throws her a little. The first week of the new school year usually features at least one meltdown and by the Friday, she’s knackered. So I’ve learned to plan in a quiet weekend after that first week back, to allow her time to decompress a bit and regain some energy for the following week.
- It’s a step change for us too, so don’t be surprised if you’re exhausted and grumpy! In the past, I’ve struggled to get back into the swing of things – how the mornings have to run like clockwork (“Shoes on please! No, now!”) and staying on top of all the school admin. Oh the admin! Must remember the blue homework book every Monday. Packed lunches Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Must pay for school dinners. Junk modelling next week, so take in some recycling materials. When is the school trip again? MacMillan Bake Sale by the PTA – put it in my diary so I can go along and buy some cakes. Practice times tables every weekend! And spellings! So basically, have a system. Mine is this: as soon as the school sends out a list of dates, it ALL goes in my phone calendar. Every day, after school, I ask the 8-year-old to empty her bag and hand over any letters, and important info goes straight in the calendar – and it’s a joint calendar that both me and Mr P access so there’s no excuse for us missing anything!
- See a shortcut? Take it. I’ve never been the parent who sews on name labels (me? Sew?) but I did buy one of those handy stamp kits which allows you to stamp your kid’s name onto their uniform. Even that feels like a bit of a faff though, so now? It’s all about the Laundry Sharpie! Just write their name on the clothing label and BOSH, done.
- There’s no shame in sharing a Back To School photo on social media. Yes, everyone does it. Yes, some people roll their eyes at them. But who cares? They’re such a nice way to share and celebrate your kiddo going into a new school year. It’s a real achievement! And it’s a lovely way to mark the passing of time as they get older. So screw anyone who tuts and makes a snarky remark about all of the back to school pics being shared, I say.
What have you learned along the way about the kids going back to school?
>> Have you listened to this episode of Not Another Mummy Podcast where I chat to Emma Conway aka Brummy Mummy of 2 about how to cope emotionally when your child starts school? <<