In just a couple of days my tiny baby girl will be leaving Year 2. That’s right, I’m going to be a mum to an actual Year 3 child (as opposed to a pretend Year 3 child – who knew?). But never mind what my eldest child’s learned in three years of school, this post is all about what I’ve learned as a school mum. From the mundanely practical to the deep-thinking philosophical, here are 26 lessons I’ve learned in my first three years as a school mum.
But first, some numbers:
Did you know three years as a school mum means approximately 1,080 school runs (if you take the average of 180 school days per year and times it by two for there and back, then multiply by three for each year, if you’re asking). It also means around nine trips for new school shoes (one per term), 540 dashes around the house to look for said shoes at the very minute we should be leaving the house and another 540 dashes up the hill for school pick-up (I’m always late for school pick-up).
By my (admittedly appalling) maths calculations that means I’m basically a pro at being crap at the school run.
Anyway, back to those insightful school mum life lessons. Here we go:
1. It takes at least half an hour longer to get dressed, fed and out of the house than you think it will.
2. Even if you get up at 5am you’ll probably find yourself rushing to get out of the door when it’s actually time to leave for the school run.
3. The one day you forget to check the book bag will be the one day your child comes home with a Very Important Permission Slip that needs signing and returning the following day.
4. All parents are secretly competitive, even if they think they aren’t (FYI – I include myself in this group).
5. Even those with a heart of stone will turn to mush at the first Nativity Play / sports day / celebration assembly.
6. The urge to impress the teacher will still be strong, even if you’re 33 and haven’t been a school pupil in over 15 years.
7. Some teachers are still scary, even if you’re 33 and haven’t been a school pupil in over 15 years.
8. If you bring a snack to school for pick-up time you’re 99% certain to keep a hangry tantrum at bay on the way home (I learned this the hard way during my first week as a school mum).
9. Iron-on name labels are the way forward.
10. Despite what Instagram might tell you, no one actually cares what you’re wearing on the school run.
11. Calendars with separate columns for each of the family are your friend when it comes to keeping track of school activities.
12. The last week of any school term sees all children morph into some kind of hangry, tired, grumpy version of their former selves which makes the Incredible Hulk look tame by comparison. This is a fact of life and does not mean you are a bad parent or your child is a bad child. It just means you’re all knackered and need a holiday.
13. No matter how great the school dinner offering is, if your kid has school dinners every day they will yearn for a packed lunch.
14. No matter how great your packed lunches are, if your kid has packed lunches every day they will yearn for a school dinner.
15. Packed lunches taste better in cool lunch boxes. Fact.
16. At some point, no matter how hard you try to avoid gender stereotypes, encourage friendships between boys and girls, disregard the dated notion that “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” it’s inevitable there will be a period when your child decides all children of the opposite sex are “gross” and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re lucky this phase will be fleeting and will soon be forgotten.
17. Laying out the school uniform the night before will save you both time and exasperated shouting. It will not, however, guarantee you leave the house on time.
18. Helping your child learn to read is both an incredibly satisfying and joyous experience and akin to pulling teeth or watching paint dry. It can be fun, boring, frustrating and soul-destroying. But when it does eventually “click” – well, there’s nothing quite like it.
19. It’s totally OK to have a little cry in the playground if you happen to be the mum of the one kid in the class suffering a major (two year) bout of separation anxiety in the morning.
20. School can signal the beginning of a whole new social circle – for parents!
21. Non-iron shirts are a marvellous invention.
22. All children develop at different rates. A good school is one that recognises this and makes your kid feel valued whatever their own unique set of skills is.
23. There is nothing more exciting than being made class monitor / librarian / school council member when you’re aged six and three quarters.
24. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that some designs of school shoe have a mysterious ability to get up and walk around the house all on their own, ending up in a completely different place to where you last put them.
25. Much of the school day will forever remain Top Secret. If you want to get your child talking about their day (and spill some of that highly classified information) then start by asking what they had for lunch, or who they played with at play time. Pointed questions are the
Investigator’s parent’s secret weapon to unlocking the mysteries of the school day.
26. The school runs may seem long but the years will be short. Blink and your kid will have turned from a tiny four year old reception pupil to a lanky, long-limbed almost Year 3. And in a minute they’ll be about to sit their GCSEs. The cliches about parenting and the passing of time are, as always, 100% true.
What lessons have you learned as a school mum? Maybe your child’s about to start school in September – are there any things you’re particularly worried about?
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