Mom Has Been in School System for a Decade, Shares Tips

  • As a mother of four, I’ve been navigating the school system for 10 years.
  • With the start of school there are many changes – not only for the children.
  • With my youngest child starting this year, I’ve learned to take less pressure on myself.

I still remember the excitement and nervousness when my eldest daughter started school ten years ago; that’s how i felt.

Now my youngest starts in September at the same school – the London equivalent of Kindergarten. I’m full of emotions, just like them, but I’m a lot less stressed than I used to be.

I don’t push myself like I used to. I have also discovered how school can enrich a parent’s life as well as a child’s. Here are some things I’ve learned that I hope will help those just starting school.

Certain times of the year will be very busy

If you find that a few months during school hours can feel more chaotic than when the kids are on vacation, that’s because they are.

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September is hectic no matter how many years you’ve been in the school system; New teachers, new classes, new curricula.

December is packed with festive shows and school events, while the last month of the school year is packed with sports days, end of year parties and more. It can feel like a shock to the system if you’re not used to it.

Dress-up days and school projects are always occurrence

Since I’m all four in school this year, I’ve accepted that weekly I’ll dig up a costume, bake something allergen-free, or try to make Egyptian canopy jars out of Pringles cans. I’ve also accepted that I forget half of what I’m supposed to do, and I refuse to beat myself up about it like I used to.

Going to school is not always easier for parents

My three older children were all happy and confident at home, so I was unprepared for the emotional turmoil that going back to school would bring.

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As Taylor Swift might say, “screaming, crying, perfect storms” were all too common at school drop-off. My kids weren’t unhappy about going to school—they just didn’t want me to go either. While the teachers assured me that the tears would stop as soon as they entered the classroom, I would be an emotional wreck before my workday began.

It wasn’t any better after school. A child described by his teacher as “Star of the Week” material came home a crying, raging, tired monster. If you’re in this boat, don’t despair. In my experience, it usually takes time for children to get used to it.

One thing I don’t think you can ever really prepare for is the heartbreak of seeing your child dejected because someone called them a mean name or because they weren’t invited to something. It tears me apart every time.

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The social side of things can be just as stressful for parents

From the pressure of throwing class parties to what feels like speed dating new parents in your kids’ classes, back to school can be just as stressful for parents.

I used to be a nervous wreck at every social gathering. I was dying to make friends and worried I wasn’t at my best chatter form by 9am without sleeping.

These friendships will emerge organically in their own time. This also applies to children. My oldest has the greatest friendship with a boy she’s been in class with since kindergarten. Despite being in the same class from age 3, they didn’t bond until they transferred to a new secondary school at age 10.

Friendships between school, mother and father can be just as magical as the first school friends you make. Maybe even more: A mom from my eldest daughter’s class is now godmother to my youngest child.

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