What a 6 weeks it has been since we made our first steps out of the door for Finley’s first day at school. I feel like I have climbed the metaphorical parent mountain a million times. I have laughed, cried, felt like the best and worst Mom in the world and seen my little man change so much already in such a short space of time.
The feeling on your child’s first day at school is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I was a huge boiling pot of emotions, warning Mr M not to even speak to me when he got up as I knew I was going to sob like a baby if I opened my mouth to talk. Finley looked so tiny in his new freshly ironed uniform (yes I now iron. This is also alien to me) and he could barely balance with his rucksack on his back. I wondered if we were doing the right thing sending a summer born baby to school at just turned age 4. Should we have deferred another year? I wondered how people with more than one child could possible put themselves through this multiple times!
Day 1, apart from a few drop off tears, was fine. Day 2, also fine! In fact the first week was a total breeze. We felt relieved! ‘This is easy!” we thought! ‘What were we worrying about?!’ ‘We are pro’s!’
Then week 2 arrives. And the hell began. Despite him seemingly loving school whilst he was there, we couldn’t get him to go. He would decide before bedtime he wasn’t going and remind us again and again over breakfast. We physically couldn’t get him dressed. If we did manage to get clothes on, he would take them off. Add the pressures of yourself having to get to work and all the other general challenges the mornings can bring. I began to dread the mornings. He had to be carried over to school kicking and screaming most days. One particular morning (rock bottom it is now called) all we managed to get on him was a t-shirt and jogging pants, he refused breakfast, wouldn’t brush his teeth and all he would eat was a biscuit on route. Once we did get him to the school gates he had to be prised off me by 2 teachers. The dream of a happy child eating a breakfast of toast, fresh fruit and a selection of juices had now been replaced by a very scruffy, unwashed child eating sugary snacks being dragged by their very stressed parents to school!
Thankfully, things have improved! We have been extremely fortunate with great support from family, the school and our employers, which, without that support, that last month and a half would have been a million times harder. If you are still struggling with mornings or already thinking about next September, I thought I would suggest a few things we implemented that helped
1 – Be military precision organised.
Mornings run like clockwork here. I get up really early to get myself ready before Finley gets up. If I am stressed, running around worrying about being late, no doubt that would rub off on him too. Bags and uniform, my work items are all ready the night before, and the running order is the same every day. Up by 7, breakfast at 7:30, uniform on at 8 (giving us 40 minutes to get it on him if needed) and out by 8:40.
2 – Picture prompts
These have been a miracle for us. Finley’s teacher gave us a series of laminated visual prompts to use so he knew what was coming next. Since using these, we have seen a huge improvement in the mornings. We use them for evenings and weekends too.
3 – Be honest with your employers
Easier said than done depending on your employer, but like I said earlier we are both very fortunate to work for lovely companies. My start time was later anyways to accommodate the school drop off, but Stuart was also able to go in to work a little later so we could both take him. I physically couldn’t have done it alone, so without this flexibility I don’t know what we would have done! My absolutely lovely boss made me a cup of tea one particularly horrible morning! If people know you are having a hard time, they may be more willing to offer a short term solution to take the pressure off.
4 – Go to school early
If your school has a nice play area you can access before the bell goes, use this as a sweetener to get your child to go. We were leaving a little earlier and using the facilities to ease him in to the day.
5 – Laugh
Despite the few moments of tears, me and Mr M have managed to just laugh most mornings at the calamity of the situation, playing good cop, bad cop and giving each other a high 5 once he was handed over to the Teaching Assistant. And sharing wine and an eye roll over the top of the glass. Yes that is definitely the key to staying sane!
I should also add that Finley’s school are amazing, so if you are looking for next year discuss the settling in procedures and what happens if you do have a child who is struggling to leave you in the mornings. We have taken him in not wearing uniform, arriving as the bell was about to go and they have also allowed us to go in to the classroom with him a few times when he has refused to put his shoes on, and they have been more than fine with this. Absolute angels. A huge bottle of something is on the Christmas list for them already!
Happy half term everyone!