As the Summer holidays loom and our Reception Year journey is coming to a close, I wanted to reminisce over some of the things that I have learnt in my first year as a school mum…
- School run – I’ve done around 380 of these bastards in my life as a Year R mum. I always thought that the school run was just a thing that mums moaned about just to have a moan, but no the school run is life changing for a number of reasons; 1. You can’t be late. 2. You have to leave your dressing gown behind, even on your non-work days.
- The nursery flexibility of be there anytime from 8am – 6pm was lost on me, until I became a school mum. I didn’t know how lucky I was. Now it’s strictly in by 8.45am and pick up by 3.20pm. This is when it’s worth befriending a school gate mum so you can call them on those days you lose track of time in the Primark changing rooms.
- Order another recycling bin now, because the amount of paper Sofia brings home daily is enough to replant a whole forest. And rarely any of it gets kept. Because it’s ALWAYS unfinished colouring.
- A bit like buses, costume days all seem to come at once. People who care day, animal day, dress up day and dress down days. From the off, go with shop brought outfits. If you’re not already handy with a needle don’t try and become a Pinterest mum just to keep up with the Joneses. B&M do tacky polyester outfits for about a fiver – they might itch and sweat all day but it’ll save you a whole load of stress.
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- Quite early on, Sofia had a little pack of girls that she always talked about and she’s pretty much stuck with them throughout the year. The friendship circle extends out from the kids though, I always prayed Sofia found the offspring of the Bad Mom’s crew so I’d at least have something in common with them.
- Playdates – even more awkward, when they ask you in front of the parent and neither of you have a good enough excuse to why it can’t happen – except that you don’t really want to return the unwritten favour again another time.
- Try to avoid the PTA guilt – the summer fayre, the fireworks, the Christmas bonanza, the cake stand, the tombola stall. Can’t help out on a stall? No worries, just bring in a delicious homemade cake instead.
- Because you can’t avoid the PTA bombardment – god if it’s not the cake stall, it’s the guilt trip to fill positions that ‘won’t encroach too much into your personal life’ and a huge blurb on how the PTA plays a vital part in raising extra funds for the school. But I guarantee, it will encroach on your personal life. If you’re half thinking of joining, revert to the point above and just offer your time at the cake stall at the next event.
- The inner competitive mum comes out – you might not want to admit it but every week I was waiting for our ‘celebration assembly’ letter to be in Sofia’s Friday book bag. Let’s not even get started about sports day…
- I know teachers don’t get paid a wild amount but they obviously have a real shortage on a Friday as they’re often recruiting parent help for the fifth day of the week. For free. You couldn’t pay me £100 an hour to step foot in a classroom, let alone to volunteer for fun.
- They’re barely at school these kids. Approx every five or six weeks you’ll find you’ve arrived at another half term which means another week (or two) off. Make a note of all the half terms at the start of the year and mark up on that family calendar…
- Inset days – these little buggers are even more of a creeper than the above. Inset days are only for that specific school, so if you don’t chat to the class mums or religiously read the headteachers letter, then there’s a chance you could turn up to locked gates at the next one!
- Invest in a family calendar – your kids are about to have a much bigger social life than you can even dream of…
- …and whilst you’re in the shop buying that, buy a years supply of 5 year olds birthday cards, cos there’s gonna be a whole lot of invites coming your way too
- The illegal days – you want to leave for your holiday a day earlier or return a day later, which would mean missing a couple of days of school. What do you do though? Be honest and write in praying for an ‘authorised’ absence or fake an illness and hope your child doesn’t grass you up? I have always been honest for any days we’ve taken Sofia out of school – and all three of her ‘unauthorised’ days have been due to us having family time which we didn’t want to compromise. I think the rule is no more than 10 sessions per term (one day is two sessions with the AM/PM register).
- Kiss chase – yes, you read that right. Within the first term, our class WhatsApp went on fire as mums tried to find out what goes on at lunchtime. Piecing together those muttered snippets there seemed to be a rumour of ‘kiss chase’ happening with Year 2’s at lunch time. The rumour was indeed correct. And let’s just say, it wasn’t the boys doing the chasing…
- Get ready to feel the guilt if you can’t attend an ‘invite your parents in to your classroom’ afternoon, which happen a lot.
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- A school day is not a full day – so, enter afterschool club and more expense. Or good luck trying to find a job that works around school hours. I rubbed my hands in glee when Sofia left nursery thinking I would reap the benefits of ‘free childcare’ with her being at school. Nope, my working days/hours haven’t changed, so its club for her three nights a week. Our club charges by the 15 minutes, so you watch me almost lose my licence hotfooting it from work so as not to break into the next 15 minute charge.
- Labels – everything has to have a label, even things you think they couldn’t possibly lose. Like shoes. Yes, really.
- The printed lunch menu is a permanent fridge fixture – cos heaven forbid I don’t send her in with her Smiggle (yes, she’s already putting us on the verge of bankruptcy at five) lunch box on a Wednesday, she will go on hunger strike rather than eat pizza or cottage pie.
- Towards the end of the week they do get knackered, so switch the TV on, get the ipad charged and let them have a half an hours wind down and chill out. And don’t feel guilty about it.
- The book bag end of day tip out – cos you sure as hell know the one day you don’t check it is that one day when your kid had to dress as a ‘person who cares’ the next day.
- You’ll never know what they did at school that day so save your breath even asking. They do have Tapestry in Year R so that will be your knowledge bank for those first 9 months of being a school mum.
- Their feet grow and their skirts/trousers suddenly ride up by about 3 inches – and it’s always just as school is over. Do we adopt chinese feet wrapping to make them fit into the ridiculously priced Clark’s school shoe? Always a dilemma.
- Take tissues to the celebration ‘star of the week’ assembly when its your turn (especially if the other kids sing that song we have at ours)
- Classrooms are hot and small. Which doesn’t bode well for me sprinting through the door at 8.54am. I leave feeling positively menopausal.
- DO NOT forget the afterschool pick up snack. Unless you want a tantrum on the journey home.
- If they run out on a Friday with that dirty old unwashed bear, they’re going to be excited. And you’re going to need to plan a weekend adventure full of pictures for the fluffy fuckers journal.
But the biggest thing I’ve learnt in my first year as a school mum, backed up by an end of year report – is that Sofia is an Oscar winning actress. She actually listens and is helpful to her teachers at school. Those school doors must be like the modern day ‘Stars in their Eyes’ smokescreen!