We’ve made it. We’ve survived the first six weeks of the four year old being at school.
Although the first 2.5 weeks were only half days, so I’m not sure they even count? But none-the-less, the first ever term (or half term if you’re old school like me) of primary school is done, and we are still standing. Just about.
So here’s what I’ve learnt along the way…
1. GETTING EVERYONE READY ON TIME IS HARD
Okay so I’m not going to lie. Getting all three boys up, dressed, fed and ready to leave the house by 8.20am every morning is no mean feat. It would be okay if any single one of them could do a damn thing for themselves. If you only have one child – be thankful. If you have more than three – you deserve a medal.
The half an hour between 7.50am and 8.20am is literally the worst 30 minutes of my day. Even worse than bedtime. I shout, I swear under my breath, and I’ve even cried a couple of times. Because NOBODY does what they are told. Nobody LISTENS. I’ve tried the softly, softly approach. I’ve tried the bribery, I’ve tried doing it all for them, I’ve tried getting up EVEN earlier. None of which works. I get everything ready the night before, even down to pouring the cereal into a bowl. My alarm goes off at 5.45am. FIVE FORTY FIVE FFS!! And STILL I get stressed.
No fun allowed, boys
This is mainly because my boys think every minute of every day should be spent having fun. Or winding each other up. Chasing each other up and down the hallway and slamming doors rather than eating their breakfast. The Twins ‘cleaning’ their own teeth whilst I clean the four year old’s – resulting in them flooding the downstairs loo. Taking their shoes off within seconds of me putting them on. Same with the coats. Then they do it yet again. And OBVIOUSLY I have to mention the 8.15am dirty nappy. Shit the bed. It’s every bloody day. You could set your watch by it. Then there’s the fight getting them into the buggy. Days when the Other Half works from home and I can leave them behind for 15 minutes is a good day.
2. I BOTH LOVE AND HATE THE SCHOOL RUN
The school run, I can’t imagine anyone likes it. But it has to be mentioned. On the one side I’m very lucky I live extremely close to our school. As in, in the same road. Like 70 metres away. I would be hard-pushed to actually park any closer, indeed my friends sometimes park on my drive as they can’t get any nearer. This is the main reason we bought our house, and why we will basically never leave. And it’s also the reason I practically skip home with a smug grin on my face quite often, past the queue of cars and often harrassed looking parents. (When I’m not pushing a massive double buggy in the rain, that is.)
On the flip side of this, anyone who has to take younger siblings will know, school runs are not popular with them. I put them in the buggy to contain them, as we all know two year olds like to make a bid for freedom at any opportunity. Plus there is no pavement between my house and the school. Once in and soothed with toys or books, they generally chill out and quite enjoy watching all the big kids waiting at school in the morning.
Rainy school run, anyone?
But the afternoon school run is another story. I have to wake them up from their nap to make it in time, and understandably so, they’re unimpressed. Add in the fact it’s rained for at least 98.7% of school pick-ups since the start of term (okay, slight exaggeration but it bloody FEELS like it, doesn’t it?), the toddlers go banzai. Like many, Twin Two is not a lover of the rain cover. Not a lover at all. In fact I’m amazed it’s still in one piece to be honest, the amount he fights it. Why is it always dry most of the afternoon then rains at 3pm??
3. THE AMOUNT OF ‘LEARNING’ GOING ON IS A MYSTERY TO MY SON
As expected the four year old is telling me very little about what he’s doing all day. Up until 10 days ago there had been no mention of numbers or letters, reading or writing, or anything educational at all if I’m honest – from him. He does tell me about his day sometimes – but it’s only ever on the way home (in that one minute 30 second walk), then the moment he opens the front door he conveniently can’t remember a thing.
There have been no reading books sent home yet, no sheets for him to fill in, no exercises for him to do. Nothing. I’m sure in a few months’ I’ll look back on this easy time fondly. But at the moment, all my four year old SAYS he does at school is play with the ‘Mobilo’ building blocks to ‘build’ Transformers. He and his best mates seemingly spend hours on end with it. To the point where a teacher even told me he needed to ‘explore the setting’ a bit more. Apparently he did a bit of cutting and pasting, a quick session on the Lego, then went back to the Mobilo. He’s obsessed.
Take his stories with a pinch of salt
Luckily I see regular online Tapestry updates proving that he does in fact put the damn Mobilo down now and again and tries his hand at something else. And there have even been a few videos teaching us how to pronounce and write letters. But if you believed everything he told you, he’s basically studying at the four year old’s equivalent of architecture and construction college.
4. SCHOOL COMMUNICATION IS A BIG THING. A VERY BIG THING.
I love a bit of communication, and as a journalist, it’s kind of my thing. I like to be organised. But bloody hell, I CANNOT KEEP UP WITH IT ALL! I’m not sure about your school, but at ours there are three main official ways to keep in touch with what’s going on. Or three main ways for you to totally miss something and end up ballsing it up. First there’s Tapestry – an online journal for teachers to show us pics of our kiddies playing in the sandpit, meeting their Year 6 buddies, taking part in Balanceability or Friday afternoon yoga (!), or if you’re my son, playing with the Mobilo. This is a great resource and basically the only way I know what he is up to on a day to day basis.
Every now and then they send a curve ball message all about some important meeting I know I should really get in the diary. But the emails come through at 3am, so when I check them at 5.45am, it’s unlikely I’ll actually remember it a few hours’ later.
There is also ParentPay, via which you get the official stuff from the school office. Important stuff like term dates, when the school photos are, a telling off for not sticking to the footpath and what food Foundation are allowed to bring in for Harvest Festival. (Fresh stuff, no baked beans) This is all fine too, and comes into my email alongside Tapestry. Luckily I see my emails instantly on my phone, as these often amount to several a day. I’ve had three already today.
I must check the book bag on a daily basis
Then there is the book bag. That all important book bag. Which basically goes into school every single day empty. And comes home pretty much every single day empty. Unless there’s a party invite or a ‘picture’ the four year old has drawn. Unlikely though given the Mobilo obsession. Only on a few odd occasions has it had anything of any note in it. But still it must be checked and checked again the second we get home in fear of us (me) missing something. I know the one time I forget to check, it’ll be mufti day tomorrow or something, and I’ll be the worst mum ever.
Then there is the ‘Foundation WhatsApp’ group – which was set up by one organised mum on the first day and I was added to. It’s where ‘such and such’ asks if anyone has little Henry’s left shoe, or where ‘so and so’ reminds everyone to action the email on the flu vaccination. And where we all double and triple check which days they don’t have to wear uniform for certain activities. The funniest thing is, I no doubt stand next to these women on a daily basis at school, but because their numbers aren’t in my phone they don’t come up on the WhatsApp group and I have no idea who they are, or who I’m happily chatting away to. But I’ll ignore it at my peril.
5. SCHOOL COOKS ARE ACTUALLY MAGICIANS IN DISGUISE
If you’ve read my previous posts about him starting school, you’ll know one of my only worries for the four year old was about the lunches. He is so fussy I had visions of him losing it in the canteen when he was faced with choosing between mushroom stroganoff or a three bean burrito. But he has TOTALLY amazed me. From what I can gather, he’s choosing ‘red band’ which is the main meal every day and is actually trying it – and even liking a lot of it. Okay so I may have started off swaying him on what to choose each day based on what would be the least likely to be shunned, but now I’m pretty much reading him the choices in the morning and letting him get on with it. Never have I talked about an all day breakfast with such enthusiasm and excitement.
I’m sure they’re putting a spell on my fussy child – and that’s fine by me
It’s the first thing he tells me about when he comes out of school, and the words “I LOVED IT, can you get some at home?” are often heard. This is the boy who lives off pesto pasta, beige freezer food, cucumber and fruit. So I have come to the only conclusion possible – that the cooks have all been sent from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that they must be putting a spell on him as he walks into the canteen. I simply cannot BELIEVE it’s all down to the fact they’re 100 times better at cooking than I am, and serve him up tasty food he actually wants to try. That cannot be it at all. No, not at all.
Apart from the fact we were invited in to have lunch with the kids earlier in the term, and I can categorically state the food was indeed delicious. Okay, I’ll let them have that one. If it means the four year old is actually eating, I’m bloody over the moon.
6. BRANDED SCHOOL UNIFORM IS WRECKED FIRST
We have the option of the kids wearing uniform branded with the school badges, or buying cheapo stuff from supermarkets. I headed straight to Morrisons/Sainsbury’s/Asda for the majority of the trousers, polo shirts and sweatshirts, as you’d expect. But I did buy one expensive branded sweatshirt, and two branded t.shirts in white and blue. You know, school photos and all that. Obviously the branded white t.shirt is the one that’s come home with the stubborn food stain on it. It couldn’t have been one of the four for approximately 39p ones could it?! No.
Iron or not to iron?
I’ve also learned that my obsession of ironing all things school-related is not a healthy one and is something which might need to be addressed. Especially in two years’ time when I have three times the amount of uniform to iron. Tell me, is it really necessary?!
7. THINGS HAPPEN FAST
There’s no messing around with school is there? Things that I didn’t expect to happen for ages yet, have already happened. Like school photos, sponsored running events, Balanceability, and the dreaded nits letter. Which makes me itch every time I think about it…
8. BEING CALLED IN BY THE TEACHER IS PROPER SCARY
I am a 39 year old woman. I am fairly confident, can hold my own in polite society, don’t mind chatting to new people, and even managed to blag my way through a Brexit conversation live on radio once without passing out with nerves. So WHY is it that as soon as I talk to one of the school teachers, I feel like I’m seven years old again back at primary school? So you can only imagine how I felt when I was ‘called in’ after school one afternoon to be told the four year old had made something up about another kid (whilst playing with the Mobilo obvs), and had been told off for it.
‘Worst day of his life’
Forget the fact I couldn’t follow a bloody word she was saying as no names were mentioned in the story, I felt like it was ME who was being told off! I stood there for about 10 minutes, whilst my Twins whinged outside and the four year old peered in looking genuinely worried I was about to bollock him, practically breaking out in a sweat. Turns out the precious Mobilo blocks have now been taken away. That night the four year old told me it was the ‘worst day of his life’ and now he says on a daily basis, he doesn’t want to go to school as the Mobilo isn’t out anymore. From a boy who even wanted to go to school on a Saturday, this makes me sad.
9. STARTING SCHOOL IS REALLY FLIPPING TIRING
Back in September, everyone told me how tiring the Foundation kids find school, and that by half term in October, they’re practically dead on their feet. We were lucky in that the 2.5 week ‘settling in’ period eased them in gently, compared to friends’ kids who didn’t know what hit them doing a full day just three days into term – no matter how many hours they’d previously been doing at nursery.
However by the end of our first full week, the signs were there and they’ve steadily got more obvious as the weeks have gone on. Not only is he actually saying he’s tired and going to sleep the second his head hits the pillow, we usually have to wake him up whereas before he’d be shouting out anywhere between 6am and 6.30am. But it’s the emotions that have been the real tell-tale sign. He’s generally become much more well-behaved since starting school, coming home each afternoon a really polite little boy.
He’s an emotional timebomb
Then WHAM! Out of nowhere he’s in floods of tears over the stupidest little things. Like how he wanted to come to the cinema with me (to see Downton Abbey of all things?) at 8pm on a Thursday night, and couldn’t believe it when I funnily enough said no. Or how Daddy didn’t give him a hug before he left for work. He did, but he stupidly didn’t give him FIVE hugs. Or when he couldn’t find Optimus Prime or when Twin One wanted to give him a toy and he didn’t want that particular one. All things that would normally not have bothered him, but school has turned him into an emotional timebomb. Thank f*ck it’s half term or I think he might spontaneously combust!
10. THE SCHOOL QUIZ IS BASICALLY A MASSIVE P*SS UP
Okay so this isn’t strictly as noteworthy as some of the others, but it’s a valid point in need of a mention. If only as a note of public interest to anyone who would automatically shun any type of ‘organised fun’ arranged by your school’s PTA.
Last week we went to our school’s Wine and Wisdom Quiz Night. I’m the sort of person who wants to support the school. I’m also the sort of person who likes wine. It was a no brainer. The Other Half was less convinced at the prospect, questioning whether this was what our lives had become – a school quiz was the best Friday night out we were going to get. I told him to adjust his expectations of our current life situation.
Hello cheap booze
He needn’t have been so worried. Turns out the Wine and Wisdom night is basically just one MASSIVE p*ss up! A school hall packed to the rafters with parents, the majority of which are dressed up WAY more than you’d expect for a school quiz (note to self, wear something better next year), a cheap bar selling a LOT of booze (apparently 91 bottles went to the bottle bank afterwards), cheese, French bread, crisps and the best quiz rounds I’ve ever seen.
I even knew some answers, especially on the 80s TV show opening credits. Not so much on the ordnance survey map symbols, or the 2019 GCSE exam questions. But you know, every team needs a variety of knowledge. Just so happened mine was mainly the useless kind. There was even a biscuit round – with tasters! Then when it was all over, pretty much the entire event shifted to the pub down the road and continued in full-swing to a Whitney tribute act. We know how to have fun!
So there you have it. A few things I’ve picked up along the way since my eldest started school. I’d happily write a few more, but it’s 2.55pm and I can see black clouds rolling in so I’d best dig out the rain cover. Right on time.
Did your little one start school this term? What have you learnt?
HOW DID I DO?
Did you enjoy this post? Why don’t you stick around and read a few more. If you fancy some more school ones, how about you try Getting Your Four Year Old ‘Ready’ To Start School, How To Do The School Run With Babies In Tow – Without Needing A Lie Down, or a personal one about A Stay At Home Mum’s Mixed Emotions At The Start Of Pre-school.
If you fancy reading some more school stuff by other people check out these posts
- What To Really Expect When Your Child Starts School or Using Mindfulness To Achieve Some Zen After School by the fabulous Emma Reed Writes.
- The First Half Term In Reception by The Ladybirds’ Adventures
- What I’ve Learnt In My First Year As A School Mum by That Liz And Those Boys
If you like a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. Feel free to join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group too, where everyone shares their hilarious stories.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.
Completely agree about loving and hating the school run! I love this list. My little one starts school next year and I’m so nervous! #itsok
I’m sure you’ll be fine. Although clearly I’m no expert yet! 🙂
Brrr … I’m not actually cold, cold it’s more the cool shiver of recognition and a silent thanks that that part of our parenting journey is done. Still school runs but nothing like thise early days. Thanks for the reminder though, Helen! Lol