I wanted to share what is has really been like commencing this new chapter of our lives. It’s been great but also gruelling and like many things in life, you can prepare as best you can but nothing beats stepping up and doing. This is a list of what has caught me off guard or has been a bigger deal than expected.
Oh boy! I didn’t think it would be easy but our little guy was so ready to start school. He’d been looking forward to the day finally rolling around and on that note this waiting made it a long summer. Our start time for the first day was 10:30am which couldn’t have felt further away when we were all up, eager and completely ready at 8am. The boys had a swim, which burnt off some nervous energy, and then it was time to get dressed, take some photos and go. My husband and I could hardly speak to each other – it was that ‘keep cool’ vibe and trying to appear like this was a walk in the park when on the inside we were so churned up.
Everything went exactly to plan – in fact it literally could not have been better. Noah met his buddy, got set up in the classroom with the other kids, we chatted with the teachers who are fabulous, and he was fine about us leaving. I wish I had understood that despite it all going smoothly the transition would still have a big affect on me. I’d played down how big a deal it is starting school but in reality I just couldn’t help being drained emotionally. After a few tears I was exhausted. It was an early night for everyone and that continued all week.
After the summer holidays I was feeling like I wasn’t on top of my work enough and I told myself when school started it would be an opportunity to jump back in. This was true to an extent but I didn’t foresee that the first week would be so consuming for us all. I only scratched the surface of my to do list and decided to be a bit kinder to myself and that going a slower pace for one week is probably more so what I need.
Biggest Learning: You can’t help how you feel and sometimes it can catch you by surprise. Go easy on yourself and try not to have anything major planned for the first week of school. It’s more taxing than expected and not in a way that a coffee or wine will fix it – shocking right!!
Losing focus on our littlest
With so much energy going into Noah to ensure the best transition possible, we didn’t really appreciate the flow on affect to his little bro. Benji returned to his pre-school this year, which is everything you could hope for and more. He has loved it there so we thought this would be an easy one returning to all the smiling faces and familiar classroom and playground. Sure it was but it was missing one key factor, his older brother in the other classroom. We quickly realised that knowing his big brother was always there had been such a comfort to Benji, even if they didn’t see each other all the time. Every morning has started with tears. When it’s not preschool day it’s “How many sleeps until…..?” I did not flag this as happening at all and it’s only been confounded by cooking Noah his favourite dinner for night one of big school or him bringing home an amazing origami pig for Chinese New Year.
Biggest Learning: Trying not to feel like a total parenting fail and recover quickly. To help Benji settle back in we’ve had special treats after school, he’s taken something of mine with him to keep in a special place at preschool until I pick him up and he’s picked who will drop him off. We had to call in the big guns, his Poppy, to do this one morning and it went swimmingly.
Meltdowns and giving in to tantrums
Adjusting to school routine has been good but when it has come to tantrums and meltdowns absolutely anything goes! It was clear that what was going on was an experience of overwhelm for my little guy and I just decided to pick my battles. If he felt it was completely unjust when he missed out on getting an ice cream and collapsed screaming on the footpath I was like, let’s get that ice cream. Normally I would be sticking to my guns but this was not him being bratty and unreasonable, he was giving it all that he could and being an absolute trooper at that, and this was just the final straw and he couldn’t keep it together a moment longer. We had several moments of me just running with whatever request was flying my way. I was confident that it wasn’t ‘spoiling’ him or me not being the parent in the relationship because it was like reasoning with a completely different kid. After 2 and a bit weeks emotions and overwhelm are much more in check and the meltdowns gone and forgotten.
Biggest learning: Hoping for the best and that this patch will not last long and having the confidence to pick my battles.
Nature play wind down
In what felt like the world’s longest week – like literally waking up on Tuesday thinking for a moment it was Friday – another balancing act came in the form of what to do after school. We’re home by 3:30 and while pretty exhausted it’s not bed time or dinnertime. Sitting and reading seemed a bit restrictive after a day in the classroom and zoning out in front of the TV wasn’t a good go to either. We read books in bed and definitely still watched TV for a bit when it was 40 degrees and all too much.
When the weather was hot but bearable we just got outside. Swimming has been such a great way to decompress after a huge day. So playful and the water can just wash away all the busy jumble of the day. What has also been great has just been running under the sprinkler and watering the garden – which generally turns into a water fight. My husband also built with the boys the base for our new vegie patch. I was worried that might be all too much to take in but it was a hit. Outside in the dirt with hammers, drill, shovel and hoe was the ticket! The end result was not important and they didn’t seem concerned with what to plant where but the banging, lifting and drilling were all a hit and they had to be called back in for dinner each time.
Biggest learning: Getting outside and just doing something has been so helpful to shift any moods or funny school behaviours. The outdoor play in general has made happier kids who are much easier to wrangle into bed after a shower and sleep, ready to do it all the next day.
Thank you to everyone who emailed how their school prep was going. Would love to hear how everyone has settled in. Please share if you have any questions or comments and your experience too. I absolutely love to hear from you xx