It takes a village, as they say, and that’s definitely true when it comes to navigating life as a school parent.
We might be the parents but we’re also students who have a lot to learn about life in this next stage. It’ll hold a lot of fun, a bit of angst and a whole heap of wondering what on earth you’re doing.
It helps to go in prepared, so consider this your village’s warning – I mean, friendly advice – for what’s to come.
1. Mornings are wild
School mornings are crazily difficult to organise and, interestingly, are all the things you wish weekends could be. It goes a bit like this:
School mornings: the kids sleep in, so you have to drag them out of bed unwillingly.
Weekends: they’re awake bright and early (and noisily) at 5am.
School mornings: “I want to stay home!”
Weekends: “Home’s boring, where can we go today?”
School mornings: the kids play happily and half-undressed in their bedrooms.
Weekends: “There’s nothing to do. I’m boooooored.”
School mornings: “You need TWO shoes; where’s the other one?” *child shrugs*
Weekends: “Don’t wear shoes in the house!”
2. Morning playtime is for rookies
I used to make the mistake of letting my daughter play before getting ready for school. It made logical sense: she was up early and it wouldn’t take long to get dressed and out the door. Right? Wrong!
School mums with more than a term under their belt always, always make their kids get ready first. Any spare time (ha!) can be used for playing, but until breakfast is eaten, clothes are on, sunscreen is applied and all hats, drink bottles and socks are located – there’s no time for play.
3. Kids have six good hours of behaviour in them
There’s only so many hours that your child will be able to hold it together. That number is around six hours each day – and their teacher gets the lot.
What does that leave you with?
4. Meltdowns – from them and you
Yep, that’s right. While you thought meltdowns were toddler territory, the truth is that school kids take the top prize in this category.
School is exhausting for them and the results of that tiredness will land in your lap. Which, of course, will result in your own meltdowns. Fun times ahead!
5. Money leaks from the tap that is your purse
The school fees are paid, the uniform and school bag are hanging in the cupboard, new shoes are sorted – surely that’s all the money you’ll need for school stuff?
When it comes to school life there’s always more to be paid for: fundraising, excursions, and of course replacing lost jumpers, hats and lunch boxes. A school mum’s purse rarely closes.
6. The speed of time increases in school hours
After the long, slow early years of your child’s life, where one day filled with baby’s tears dragged on for millennia, get ready for the speed of the school day.
Many a parent has wondered what they’ll do with “all that time” in a school day. Six hours without kids (or with fewer kids if you have younger ones)! But those six hours last for what feels like five minutes – blink and you’ll miss it.
7. Your skills are gonna need improving
Think your own schooling is done? Don’t make me laugh.
Now that you’re a school parent you need some new skills: crafting hats for the Easter Parades, sewing costumes for Book Week, creative baking for Multicultural Day, extreme organisational skills for The Entire Year.
Yep, there’s always something on at school and it’s going to highlight your lack of abilities. My advice? Just own it; do what you can and outsource the rest.
8. Kids do nothing at school
At least, that’s what they’d have you believe in dinner table conversation.
“What did you do at school today?”
If you want any information out of them, you have to get more specific with your line of questioning. And even then, well, good luck with your child remembering anything at all that happened that day.
9. Bedtime sparks the memory
Suddenly, right on bedtime, your child’s memory recovers from the dinnertime amnesia. Their day of “nothing” turns into a series of epic adventures that need (NEED) to be told in every tiny detail before they can possibly close their eyes.
At this point, those meltdowns we talked about earlier are likely to happen. From you.