Actual transcript of a conversation had this morning in my office:
“OMG, why didn’t they tell me life would be this busy?”
“I thought Big School would make life easier, but it feels like I have a second job.”
You see, I thought I was the only mum who spent last night in a full-scale panic. It turns out this is just a normal level of chaos when you’re getting used to having a child who has just started school.
Despite having read a note the previous week, it just dawned on me that in less than 10 hours we’d need a Harmony Day costume and something in the bag to share for morning tea.
Nothing like a deadline, right?
Don’t get me wrong, we chose a small community school for all the wonderful things a small school community can bring. And it has already provided care, love and fun in bucket loads.
But I didn’t quite factor in how much extra work it would take at home to keep up with everything at school.
1. School notes
School notes are practically a subject in themselves. I am expecting an exam at the end of the year. At our school, we have a note folder that rotates from home to school every day, plus a school app for electronic notices.
Despite all of this written communication, I couldn’t live without the independent little mum’s group chat someone clever started on Facebook the first week of kindy. It’s filled with questions, suggestions and reminders of all the different events.
For example, “is tomorrow school photos?” and “do we pack normal lunch if they are having a long morning tea?” or, “has anyone seen H’s hat?”.
The group is basically a translator for first-time school parents scrambling to get our heads around all of this.
One mum even posted a video of the Friday assembly for all the working parents who couldn’t make it. Without that kind of support, I think we’d all crumble in a heap.
2. Stop! It’s admin time
At the beginning of the term, I spoke with Kirsty Levin, co-founder of The Parent’s Village who told me she puts aside two nights a week to tackle all the admin in one hit.
“It’s less overwhelming that way. And I find I can concentrate better in one hit, rather than drips of information all through the week,” she said. “It also helps to have my diary and family calendar on hand to sync everything up.”
Eight weeks in and this advice is coming back to me like a lifeline. I’ll be adding an evening like this to my schedule, pronto!
3. Lunch boxes
It doesn’t matter if you lean towards the bento-style variety school lunch or you turn out the same thing every single day, the lunch box routine is the most bewildering for us daycare parents who didn’t even have to worry about breakfast! Gah.
Making sure you have enough food to last you through the entire week is challenge number one. Hoping your kid won’t notice the same filling more than a few times a week is the second. And praying that it’s actually eaten comes a close third. Oh well, only 11.5 more years to go.
4. Bake, bake, bake bake
For mum-of-two, Suze, it is the seemingly constant requests for bake stalls and fundraisers that get to her.
“It’s like they think we can just cook up a storm any old time we feel like it,” Suze says. “Don’t they realise that we NEVER FEEL LIKE IT?”
Mum-of-two Lana says:
“Homework feels like it’s added workload too. It’s his workload, but it’s also mine because he needs my help, which I’m happy to give but … TIME!
Providing you don’t lose the note about volunteering; this is another aspect of school life that tugs on the mum’s brain. Of course, you want to help, and you know your little one would love it too. But – help! I’m having trouble with lunch boxes right now.
Yep, the school-mum juggle is real.