First of all I would love to acknowledge all the parents, guardians, grandparents friends, teachers and whoever it may be that helps anyone with school age children. Your support, no matter how small you feel it may be, never goes unnoticed. Ever.
My eldest, Noah, started school in January this year. To be precise January the 29th. He hated every minute of his transition days and was so upset on the first few days it took all my might not to cry with him. Noah had 2 days at school and then we flew out to Hawaii for 2 weeks. Great planning on our behalf that’s for sure. Coming back home we landed at 10.30pm on a Monday night so felt we would do the right thing and keep Noah home for the day to rest. He struts in on the Wednesday for me to discover that he had his class photo on Tuesday. Another one for the fail bank. But after 2 weeks away, Noah had came back with an excitement for school that he hadn’t had before. He settled in quickly and eagerly completed his tasks his teacher set for him whilst we were away.
However now that he has settled there are so many things starting to pop up that I was never aware of before.
For example remembering the kids, teachers, parents, pets and anyone’s names that seem to come from nowhere. Previously Noah went to kindy and this was relatively easy. Now Scout has started kindy and Margot ELC so that is way too many new people to remember and don’t even get me started on the pin codes to get into buildings (I now just stalk people leaving or entering and run to get in with them. I’m sure some people have suspected that I’m there to steal children.)
Then there are the communication books, library book days, show and tell days (and varying themes for the week), sports days, fee days and the list is endless. I am lucky that Noah is really enjoying school and is remembering these things because I certainly am not. Then there are the dreaded lunch boxes. Lets not even get started on lunches. That topic is way too controversial for me to get into. Who seriously has the time to cut out shapes into sandwiches? I always wonder what happens to the left overs from that. With 4 kids one of mine would get a gorgeous dolphin and the other would get the outline of a dolphin and crusts…
Recently I received letters home asking for parents to be on some sort of committees. To be honest I always thought I’d be the parent to thoroughly involved in the school yet I find myself cringing at yet another commitment and I just didn’t go. Am I the only one that does this? Please tell me I’m not. Whilst I understand that these roles are vital to a school community I find it conflicting how much I don’t want to part of yet more decision-making. I was however very excited when I received yet another letter from another group of parents for Noah’s specific classroom. They organise catch up with parents and dinners for the mums and then the dads. Now that is what I am excited about. Anything with wine and I’m there. Kudos to these motivated parents is all I can say!
Prior to having any children at school I had always thought that yes 4 children under 5 at home has its challenges but I always thought school age children and a baby would be harder. That is proving true to me more than ever now. Whilst I am lucky to have a husband who does shift work and we share the drop off and pick ups (as well as help from my family) we still have to be up and ready everyday by 8.10am. Kindy and childcare you can literally rock up when ever you want. Not school. They mark it down and put it on report cards how often you are late. Given our holiday we are already in the orange for terrible attendance (awks). So far the weather has also been great to be able to walk to his classroom but winter will be the killer. Whilst 2 days a week I have to do 3 separate drop offs. This does allow me 2 full days with Harriet solo and for me to attempt uni work yet it’s amazing how quickly 3.20pm comes around. Following this then the homework, dinner and bed routine kicks in. Then we still have to fit work into the equation.
Please don’t think that I am whinging or acting like I am any busier than anyone else. I just want to highlight the amazingness that comes with raising tiny humans and how now matter what is happening everything still seems to work.
I have also learnt so much from watching Noah settle into school so quickly after being terrified of going. He expressed he was missing his Kindy friends and “had no friends” and I remember telling him that it will all be ok and he will make new ones as well. Yet when I started Uni this week I felt exactly the same. I think we forget so quickly that children go through so many changes but we get so caught up in our own business that we (at times) forget that they are too. I know I have a long way to go in learning to balance everyone’s needs and my own needs yet still trying to keep a happy medium with being involved in things that affect our children’s overall wellbeing and not just the immediate. Who knows maybe I’ll end the president of the parent committee (or what ever it is called).
The moral of my story is that dreaded mum guilt is always going to be around. I felt terrible about not wanting to be a part of any of these things and feeling so rushed with school drop off and picks up, expectations of not only Noah but also of me that I have forgotten to slow down and just enjoy it. I also found that when I stopped and spoke to mums with older children at school they set my mind at ease. They too didn’t pay the recommended library, garden, trust fund and whatever donations that schools recommend and they too aren’t part of the committees. The reassured things and me to relax in the first couple of years get easier and time will become more accessible.
It turns out I’m not the only one and neither will you be.