It’s that time of year again when you kiss goodbye to your young ones at the school gate and watch them stride off into yet another school year, school bags and lunchboxes in tow.
This can be a particularly tricky time for any mum, especially if your child is starting at a new school or making new classmates. As a parent, your task is to get them prepared not just mentally but logistically too with new school uniforms, equipment and routines to get ready.
So, Cheryl, how do you feel about the new school year starting soon?
We’ve had a totally fabulous action-packed summer, spending a fortnight in Tunisia then catching up with both sets of grandparents in Hastings and Brittany, but all good things must come to an end and I’m actually quite looking forward to getting back into a routine now. The kids’ bedtimes have become quite haphazard so it’ll be good for them to get back into going to bed earlier again. I’m not looking forward to the early morning school rush again though, or the kids’ homework and all the marking I’ll have as a teacher!
What’s the current feeling in your household?
Pretty mixed feelings actually. Sophie’s about to start secondary school so she’s a bit nervous, it’s all very different and she’ll be taking a lot of new subjects. She is looking forward to catching up with her friends though which is nice.
What are you looking forward to/dreading the most about the new term starting?
I’m looking forward to the routine and structure that the school day offers. As I’m a teacher, our household runs like clockwork during term time but things get more complicated during the holidays when we’re all rushing around doing different activities – it’ll be nice to go back to school to have a rest really !! I love all the family fun we get up to so I’ll be sad about becoming a “part-time mum” again. The first couple of weeks are always slightly manic, with papers coming home to sign, new routines to get used to, last-minute equipment lists coming home and sudden discoveries that last year’s bag/shoes/tracksuit/swimming costume have got too small/worn out and nobody thought to tell me ! I can’t wait to hear about everything they’ve got up to when they come home from school each day though.
How do you go about preparing for it?
For the younger ones just starting at school, reading books and watching DVDs about “teddy’s first day at school” can be reassuring, as is story-telling/role play about what they will get up to at school. Having a last minute checklist for each child in the last week of the holidays is always a definite must-do, getting everything from sports kit and lunch boxes to bus cards and hair bands ready so that everyone knows where their school stuff is and you can avoid most nasty surprises of things that haven’t been replaced ! Stocking up on kid-friendly snacks and school supplies that always need replacing (pens, pencils, glue sticks) so that I have plenty in reserve is also important. If I’m really organised, I might cook up and freeze some extra meals so that I have an instant dinner for the days I come home totally pooped and the kids’ homework takes longer than expected!
What’s your favourite time-saving tip for the school run?
All clothes for the next day, including shoes and underwear, must be laid out on the floor by the bed, along with any extras like PE/swimming kit that need to be taken in. Lunchboxes are prepared and left in the fridge overnight, schoolbags are ready, bus/canteen tickets left on the kitchen table and – in winter – gloves, hat, etc. are stuffed in coat hoods ready for the next day too.
What do you find to be the best remedy for settling those new-term nerves?
Laugh about it. Share some of your “first week at school” horror stories, about getting lost in the maze of corridors, having a classmate wet herself, missing the bus, losing your phone … whatever you think they’re stressing over, tell them it doesn’t matter, everyone’s been there, done that and survived. The internet is also a good family resource for research. Most schools have a website now so you can have a look around and check out some of the teachers/places so that it all seems a bit more familiar on the first day. The website will also big up the positives, which will help convince your child that going to school will be great fun, honest!
To see more of Cheryl’s thoughts you can visit her blog at her Mad House Family Review blog.