Good God that school year went quickly and it only really hit me last week that it was a pretty important one for my little men. Henry started kindy this year and William pottered his way through year 5 in his usual laid back (should try harder-could excel if he applied himself.!) way and those 40 fun filled weeks of lunch orders, home readers, sight words, projects, mathletics, permission slips, swimming lessons, soccer games and open days at high schools (gulp) disappeared in the blink of an eye. It went at such break neck speed that I feel like I’ve got whiplash and even felt a bit tearful a few days ago when I was clearing out toys and school stuff to make room for Santa’s treats.
So what lessons have I learnt from finally having both boys at school?
Having two kids at school really takes things to a whole new level organisation wise – two lunchboxes (my nemeses!!), two separate library days, different days when they need to wear sports uniform, go on school trips, wear mufti etc etc – and how I make it work as a working mum starts and finishes with planning and being organised..day in day bloody out!
I bumbled my way through the first couple of terms but then got my sh$t together and realised that I needed to help myself by planning ahead for the school week and that trying to freestyle my way through just wasn’t cutting the mustard. So I implemented little things – obvious, absolutely simple things but I’m a simple kind of girl – like menu planning and doing my weekly shop online, and buying the boys’ afternoon tea for the week ahead rather than trying to drag small whinging ‘starving’ kids around Woolies after pick up on a daily basis when I just needed to get back to work. And so so obvious – but I didn’t get into the groove for a while on this – but getting my hubbie (the chef of the household) to cook a couple of crowd pleaser dishes on Sundays (to roll out in the week) whilst I washed and dried a week’s worth of uniform. All boring but necessary so that there was less thought required in the week itself and was less stressful for us all. And I could then get through the work that I needed to do and spend one on one time with the boys. Total win win!
Work life balance
Attaining a sensible work life balance has been a big learning curve and a critical part of my happiness and sense of personal achievement this year. And as I reflect on it I’m so happy and thankful that I’m now self-employed and no longer part of a big corporate animal which I was for the first several years of William’s school life; because I felt it and so did he. He was often the first kid at before school care at 7:30a.m. and the last one to be picked up when we skidded in the door at 5:58p.m. And that’s no judgement AT ALL at mums and dads who do that – and moreover who need to do that – but I struggled with it and wasn’t the mum that I wanted to be with William and think that those first few school years got away from me a bit. So I’m so happy now that we’ve redesigned our family life – and the roles that my husband and I play – so that I can play a more nurturing role and be a visible presence in their school lives, particularly as William goes to high school in a year’s time. Next year is going to be huge, we need to be ready for it and I feel like we’re in the best shape – work/life balance wise – that we’ve ever been.
And talking of all things balance and being there to support the kids, I’ve also come to realise that it’s not just our little people who need the support, but that it’s important that we as parents get some support too and that school mum (or dad) friendships are key! Having a group of awesome women who have your back is one of the absolute highlights for me of having kids at school- my group of loons rock, you know who you are – and they often make the difference between succeeding (ish) and falling flat on my arse some weeks. They’re just the best and I couldn’t do it without them quite honestly!
They’re all different
Again I’m not breaking new ground here – or telling you things that you don’t know – but I had to keep reminding myself of this this year to keep myself in check. There’s four and a half years between my boys so it’s been quite interesting to have one at the beginning of his school journey and one nearing the end. And they are really quite different little boys – my eldest is quite a gentle little bear and a sensitive soul (which sadly appears to be changing a little as we enter tween territory) and my youngest is a cheeky pocket rocket who whilst not the cheekiest or biggest character in his kindy classroom by far, is still quite a different character to his brother and could end up being the class clown if he’s not careful..mmm.
Anyhoo despite them being quite different, I don’t know why it’s surprised me that their academic start has been quite different. William started school at 4 and a half, barely said boo to a goose but was a cracking little reader ( I taught him to read before he started school – the joy and benefit of being the firstborn!) and an all round bright little bunny, hitting chapter books well before the end of the kindy year. And don’t get me wrong, Henry is far from struggling, he did well this year but when I got his report was a bit surprised to see him be more middle of the road whereas his brother was more at the top end of the class. He went in at 5 so was a little older – and very ready – but I hadn’t gotten around to teaching him to read before school and I don’t know if it was this or that he has been a wee bit slower off the mark but he took a little bit longer to hit chapter books. But he’s so keen, loves school and wants to learn which interestingly may end up making him the higher performer of the two as William, although quite the bright little boy is a tad too laid back for my liking and it’s all about the attitude isn’t it?! So we’ll see how we go but I’ve had to have a stern word with myself to stop comparing them as knowing me that will only intensify as Henry hits Year 1 and gets into ‘proper’ learning.. They are their own little people and exactly who they should be; I just need to remember that!
Each year is a big one!
And finally – just to contradict myself completely really as I said that this year was a huge one for the boys – I’ve reflected that I need to relax and enjoy each year whilst trying not to get my knickers in the proverbial twist because you know what, yes Y5 was a pivotal one and felt huge to me but then so did kindy for different reasons and then so did year one; they’re all important and challenging in different ways and take both of you on an emotional rollercoaster. So strap yourself in parents, if you haven’t already got your kidlets in school, or you’re going from one to two, it’s quite the journey; but it’s a fab one and I wouldn’t change it for the world.