Yup. I’ve been in complete denial for the whole summer but I can be in denial no longer.
It’s the day I knew would dawn.
The day one chapter opens and another one closes.
The day my little man joins “the system”. BLEUGH. *sobs
If you’d asked me earlier in the year how I’d be feeling on the eve of the first day of term and the eve of Akira’s school life, I’d have said liberated! The birth of Kaya 8 years ago saw me take a big career break to raise my kids, so getting a bit of time back for work and “me”? Exciting.
A HUGE part of me that will feel like doing a Dick Van Dyke heel-kick as I walk out of those school gates tomorrow. Not least because, after 6 weeks of the summer holidays and the kids with me 24/7, part of me is craving routine and the chance to wee in solitude! But an even bigger part of me that will feel, well… more than a little bit lost.
I thought it would be easier this time around, but strangely it feels harder. WAY harder. I guess because it’s so final. My youngest child is starting school. Even sewing (seemed preferable to iron-on at the time, now, not so much!) name tags into uniform last week was a bit emotionally challenging – even a glass of merlot couldn’t help things – although it might have made things a bit more interesting! I’m sure the teachers will have a good laugh at some of the jaunty angles!
I know Akira is totally ready, which is something. With a December birthday and at almost 5, he’s nearly a year older than my summer born Kaya was when she started. I know he’s going to love it. And I know he’s so ready to learn and have all those new experiences. But however much I know all of that, I also know tomorrow morning is going to be tough. For me.
If your taking your child to school for the first time, THEIR first day of school is YOUR first day of school too.
First day of being a school mum.
First day of negotiating the playground.
First day of feeling like a complete newbie who doesn’t know what the hell you’re doing!
So, for what it’s worth – here are the bits I picked up last time to make that first morning as stress-free as possible. Buckle up baby – it’s a fun ride!
Make sure you’ve got everything ready the night before. We’re talking uniform laid out, bag packed, shoes ready. Yes – uniforms in this house have had their ANNUAL iron! (don’t worry – the iron is safely packed away to collect dust from here on in). I would say lunchbox packed but this year us Class of 2014 mums are treading a new path! Our free-lunces-so-no-lunchbox-required mornings will be easier than for those before us! Yay! Small mercies!
Shock to the system as the 5th gear of a “school morning” will be after a lovely summer, set your alarm early (don’t hate me!) to have your shower and get ready, so you can totally concentrate on helping your child with their reality once they’re awake.
Your nerves and stress will totally pass on to your kid. So chill baby!
This is possibly your first experience of school run traffic. Welcome to the funfest! It’s not pretty – so be early. If you’re driving, being ahead of the game will allow you to get a good parking spot – and however you travel, getting to the playground early means it will be quieter. Less daunting if you’re 4 or 5 (and certainly if yore a new mum!) and better for getting acclimatised.
Seriously, I’ve witnessed extended families rocking up and totally stressing the child out with their “ooh it’s your first day of school… you’re a big boy now… look at your uniform” enthusiasm. Try and just take your child on your own for the least amount of fuss.
BE CAMERA FREE
Yup. You heard! Yes, this is a new chapter – No, it doesn’t have to be a kodak moment. Remember that awful feeling on the first day of school when your nerves were exacerbated by your parents telling you to “smile nicely” when you could barely even muster up said smile, let alone make it a nice one!? Yeah. THAT! Leave the camera at home. I know this goes against all your instincts but just take some pics when your child comes home, proud after their first day. Or cheat them a few mornings later? Who’s ever gonna know?
BE ALL SMILES
When you get into the classroom, muster up a big and confident “Morning” to the teacher to show your child that the teacher is someone you like, therefore your child will think they can like them too! Suppress the urge to blurt out “get away from my child – you’re not the mummy, I am”! #Just saying!
The moment will come when you need to leave the classroom. BOOM! Be confident. Be brave! Your child is taking their lead from you. So a big kiss, a hug and a “Have a great day” – then GO. Whatever happens, DO NOT let them see you wobble. Take sunglasses if you have to but a crying mummy is NOT the start they need to their day. You have to be their rock. ALL SMILES BABY! This needs to be Oscar winning – you can crumble once you’re around the corner, not before. Speaking of which …
BE READY TO CRY!
However much you know your child is ready for school, walking out of that classroom is a milestone and it suddenly hits you. So have tissues in your pocket and ideally a friend you can meet for a cuppa and a cry! (just don’t do what my mate did and dissolve in the corridor, fall into the arms of the headmaster and wipe your snotty nose on his shoulder!)
A couple of other ideas: I put a family photo in Kaya’s bag so she could look at it if she was missing us / I sprayed a bit of my perfume on her wrist for the first few weeks which she loved / We always go out for tea on the first day of term, so there’s something to look forward to.
Above all, congratulate yourself on a job well done. You not only made a human – you’ve nurtured them for 5 years and prepared them for this moment. Uterus to Uniform (!) is a mighty journey. Be proud!
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” ~ Sydney J. Harris
Good Luck – and DEEP BREATHS!
And know that in a little corner of Oxfordshire, this Mamma is going through the exact same morning as you, hanging on to memories of our sensational family Summer of 2014! *sobs some more