Getting our School on

So now apparently I’ve got this kid in year 1. And apparently I should know some stuff about being a School Mum. Which I don’t really, but I thought I’d throw some stuff out there for any parents that may have a little one starting Kindergarten last week and are now in week two feeling a little, shall we say, overwhelmed.

I’m a little more prepared this time around than I was last year – it wasn’t just a huge adjustment for my little lady, it took a whole lot of adjustment for the whole family. New routines, new systems, new everything.

The first months of School are exhausting for little people starting out in Kindergarten. Daisy has always been a kid that gets tired – she’s up early in the morning, goes hard and needs to get to bed early. Throw in 6 hours of School where she was learning new stuff, keeping up with bigger kids, running around and making new friendships, when she was picked up of an afternoon I knew we had to run a tight ship back home to ensure she got to bed early enough for plenty of rest. Sometimes that meant that we had to have dinner at 4.30pm. Sometimes it meant that her afternoon tea at 3.30pm had to be a big bowl of pasta that would actually end up being her dinner. Making sure she had time to vege out in front of the TV, or reading books, or just being quiet, time to play with her sister and be silly and then time for the normal routines – dinner, bath and quiet time before an early bedtimeand maybe a piece of toast if she was still hungry.

I also found that School was enough. It was enough time for learning. Enough time for socialising. Enough time for exercising. We had to shut down any after School play dates for the first 2 terms. The few times that she did catch up with someone it inevitably ended in tears and fights that came out of exhaustion and nothing more. We didn’t start any extracurricular stuff until later in the year when she was a little better adjusted. Choose what’s important and needs to get done – like swimming lessons – and stick with that for a year. The rest like sport or ballet can come later – we found that for Daisy, getting her rest was more important.

It took me a long time to get my head around all the new things too: newsletters, notes that had to be signed and returned, canteen, sports days, library days – checklists and being organised was essential for me being on top of things and ensured there were less meltdowns when I inevitably forgot something on someday.

Be patient. Be extra kind. Allow extra time for everything, be organised and be flexible.

What’s your tip for little people starting School?
If you had one start last week, or this week, how are they going?
How are YOU?

Comments

  1. Mine just started kindergarten this week. It is going well, but I can sense how tired she is. We do swimming and ballet & Jazz throughout the week – might have to look at cutting some of this down a bit. The twins just started day care too. Sophie is handling it well…Harper, notsomuch!Me? I’m exhausted!

  2. Anonymous says:

    My daughter is in grade three and only in term four of last year could we add another activity after school. She has always done swimming and that was pretty much it for prep, grade 1 and most of grade two. She just couldn’t deal with anything more. I agree with the early dinner thing too. People think I am crazy when I say we sometimes eat at 5pm, but if they don’t eat then then things go downhill fast. Sue N

  3. My sons in year 1 too, and I just realized this week that the kids dinner needs to be earlier. There just hasn’t been enough time of an evening to get everything done. We don’t do too many after school things either, especially with two younger ones to bring everywhere. We got a note home saying homework starts next week so routine will have to be strict!

  4. That was my daughter last year when she started Prep. She was still having a nap during day times before she started (for my sanity and hers). She was such an energiser bunny – just go, go, go. She loved school but by 4pm every day she was completely knackered.

  5. I have one in year 8, one in year 6, one in year 4 and now as of last week my baby is in Kindy and let me tell you, kindy is hard and no its not any easier with number 4! I am exhausted, but hey for the first time in 13.5 years I can hear the fridge hum and it is divine :) My baby is tired but touch wood happy and his main issue is they can’t be much good there because he hasn’t learnt to read yet! As for me I’m a little sad and a big bit stressed my baby had gone into the big wide world without me……….

  6. Traci Sparkle Devlin says:

    Hey B – I think you’re an awesome mum! I hope to be just like you when I grow up =)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I read your post a few weeks ago about your 6.30pm gin and tonic and was tres jealous!

    Now, with a big girl having started kindy on Monday, I find myself getting pleasantly closer to your benchmark! We have discovered a new routine of an early dinner all together as a family with a pooped kindy girl in bed the same time as her 6 mth old little brother.

    It’s a strategy which I hope we can maintain (the G&T included!)

    Thanks for your insights as an experienced parent of a 1st grader. You are someone this new kindy mum can aspire to emulate!

    PS Sorry I am anonymous, I can’t figure out how not to be…

  8. We just started 3 year old kinder and luckily we have always eaten early anyway so I stick to that or do it at 4.30 like you say or actually if they decide to munch out at 330 and eat heaps, then they don’t need dinner (I don’t stress about meals anymore..) and then it’s quiet time. We only do playdates on the days when he is not attending (as its not full time at that age) but he also seems to be able to cope with 1 hour straight from kinder to someone’s house he knows really well if necessary. And like you said, you have to find what works for you and your family. Being organised certainly helps and a mini command area for the bags and uniform etc. and as for homework. re homework, they only need 10 mins and mainly reinforcing what they learn’t and if they don’t want to do it, I wouldn’t push, esp at such a young age. they get it eventually.

  9. I have boys who go hard early and need to be in bed early too. It works for me anyway!

    I have a 10 year old who still has a 7.30pm bedtime. And that means in bed, ready to shut eyes (No reading books).

    It requires military precision to get all three boys in bed (preschooler at 7.00pm) the others at 7.30pm. But it is totally doable and then I can kick back with a beer and relax totally.

    The 10 year old at school on his very first day back heard a lecture by his teachers to all the kids on the merits of going to bed early. I am feeling rather smug as 10 year old is one of the early bed kids and the kids who go to bed at 9-10pm just don’t cope with life and school.

    Yes, we do swimming – so important. Other sports can always wait. And we do some hardcore swimming too, they are glad to go to bed!

    • I think the teachers gave our kids the same message. Daisy would be laughed at if people knew she was asleep by 6.30pm! I can hear the Neighbours up playing in the yard after 8pm!

  10. I like your approach, very sensible. I don’t like to load my boys up with extra curricular stuff either, I think it’s important that they have some time to decompress and just BE. I do know that they need a lot of food after school!
    My youngest started Prep this year and we have had no tears at all, I feel very lucky. I am the one struggling to get myself into a routine, ironic now that I have all this free time!
    xx

  11. A tip for homework is try and do it when you get home or after a snack, when they are still in school mode!! If you wait you will probably find that they won’t want to do it and fight you. If they do fight you and say they don’t want to do it, don’t make them. They will soon learn (the hard way) when they have to stay in at lunch time to complete it, and they will want to do it at home and not miss out on play time!! I have two boys and my big boy just started high school and my little one is year 5. I thought life was supposed to get easier and slower when high school years yet, but I reckon they just get busier!! Good luck with the year!! :o)

    • Good idea! We try and tackle homework sometimes before School if we can. We are very lucky though as School starts at 9.10(!) and is a 2 min drive away. We can usually squeeze in 15 mins if we’re lucky!

  12. I have always been strict about school night routines. I need to be with a husband who is FIFO and I work. If my kids are not in bed by 7.30pm and asleep or quiet I start to get very twitchy (aka bitchy).

    Wait till they start bring home maths…I seriously would have failed year 1 maths last year. The terminology is sooooooo different from when I was in school. I knew how to do it but my explainations did not go down so well with lots of – that is not how Mrs blah blah explained it…

  13. My kid goes to the Orphanage and I am exhausted because I have to get through 8 pool fence style gates and then 2 security does to drop him off. Before relying on a bus to get to work. I feel tired just typing it.

    He’s tired too.

    And sick. Got the call to collect him after lunch.

    It’s a Hard Knock Life for Us.

  14. My eldest started high school this year which is a completely new world again. Just when I had arranged three children’s schedules to have them all at home on a Monday to get a big jump on homework for the week (it is also the only day hubby is home to keep us all sane), they throw in homework and assignments on random days due on other random days. The school bag weighs as much as my son does, there is an iPad to keep safe, and changes of clothes during the day to add to the mix. School shoes were lost this week which resulted in a large scale melt down (from him, then me as I told him to ‘pull himself together!!!!!’).
    It feels like we are all having to learn a new routine again, and we will be grateful for an early Easter!

  15. Such good advice. We have moved up the ladder and have the Little Misses in grades 3&5 this year but the start doesn’t seem to have changed. Both still tired. Both still grumpy. Both still trying really hard to get through the day. Our school is rig next door to the local pool so we do a quick dip after school and then home. Bed time is 7 for both with lights out depending on how they are. We have also started the year as I intend to continue – bags unpacked as they walk in, bags unpacked and the biggie doing her home work ( she is on a 10 day cycle for hers) in small bursts every night.

  16. Good tips, Beth.

    We are currently struggling to find our new rhythm. School starts at 8.45 which means I don’t get to work until 9.15 and have to stay back til 5ish. The wheels have well and truly fallen off by then and there’s tantrums and tears if I can’t cram carbs into their sweet little whine holes within 5 minutes of getting in the door.

    Not to mention the stress of trying to remember the names of 24 mums that I’ve introduced myself to in the last 2 week. Need that class list to come out stat!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    My daughter has just started preschool (3 1/2) and she is exhausted. Dinner on preschool days is 3-330pm and bed by 530pm – last night she was in bed by 445, poor little thing so tired. I guess you just have to do what works and every child/ family is different. Thankfully i have a few more years before homework starts…

  18. Im hearing you, i was just about to pay several ‘deposits’ for various activities which have increased this year, then I had a frickin “lightbulb moment” and i just said to myself you know what mummy maher ? You can just forget these till next term or the one after… THey are so tired with year 1 and year 3 that im thinking i will just cruise into the start of the year

  19. invest in a GOOD calendar. With big spaces for each day. Not those skinny little one line for each family member biz. No good. BIG spaces for each day and write down anything you need to remember. Cupcake days, library bags, homeowrk, sports uniforms, extra special events……

    (I have even been known to add extra details around the edges – especially regarding excurisions: times, what to pack, HOW to pack it etc).

    And sign and return notes ASAP. Don’t leave them to pileup on the bench and disappear into a stack of too hard.

    And then follow that good ‘ol dinner, bath and regular bedtime routine. Win.

  20. Anonymous says:

    We are at the end of the 1st week of Kindy, my almost 5 year old is totally shattered as she was still having a nap approx 4 days a week (for my and her sanity !) how do you deal with the post school feral-ness ?? She is beyond tired and has the attitude of a pre-menstral 16 year old… the teenage years are going to be very scary if her current moods are anything to go by !!

  21. Ah lady, first week down and this is all making so much sense to me. And I’ll be honest, I have already taken your advice from other posts you’ve written about this whole school/exhaustion/routine business. I have been working up to a shift in the evening routine for the past few weeks, but really stepped it up a notch this week. Doing the 5pm dinner, 5.30 bath, 6.15 bedtime. SO much better. It has definitely been an emotional week of firsts, but I’m super proud of Angus, just hope we can keep it together for the next… 13 years! And oh, the admin of being a school Mama, Geez, all the NOTES that come home.
    Definitely avoiding the extra curricular stuff for a while too.
    Hope your girls had a good week xo

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to answer your question.
    Our daughter is a witness to a sex crime and she is 9.
    She has a summons WTF for her to appear in court…handed to me at 7am.
    She has also changed schools
    I am not doing to great…she has know idea what is about to happen…(trial in the High Court set for May this year).They are leading up to take her through the court house when it is empty and then when it is full.
    In my head I am screaming “NOT MY FUCKING KID!”..sadly it is and will be my “kid”
    Anyhoo…No am not doing fine.
    Life fucking suxs.
    Kate in Wellington NZ

    Its okay to not publish this Beth.And I am sorry if I have put any downer on anyone.

    • Oh Kate, I’m so sorry to read this. What an awful thing to be thrown into. I hope you can get through all the awfulness of it and get lots of support from friends and professionals to help her and you deal with it in the best way you can. I’ll be thinking of you x

  23. So bookmarking this. Small one is at preschool and it is hard enough to get her there and get myself and the husband to work and when we get home, we’re all a bit cranky.

    I’ve found that a small craft and something entertaining ready to go as soon as we get home is currently working.

  24. My eldest went off to kindy last week. Wow

    The first day was bump and she smashed the second day. She loves it. But the meltdowns at home have been nuclear in the fall out. I have to remind myself that even though I am comfortable in that environment being a teacher, she is still learning and working hard all day to have your teacher love you means there is little left for mum at the end of the day. Lots of deep breaths,a patience and hugs here.

  25. Things were very different 52 years ago when my first child began school. You know..they sort of just went to school and we got on with life. I had no car so they walked to school and home again. I too walked to the school should I need to go there. It was probably about a mile from where we lived and involved crossing some main roads but the traffic was far less..back then. This is not a criticism but I often wonder if today people think too much about events that happen in their lives. Perhaps a good thing in many ways but not always good to look for problems before they happen. I am sure your children will do well at school with such an intelligent mum to guide them and you will deal with it all as efficiently as you do with other things in your life. All the best to everyone. xx

  26. Great post! I wish you could have written this a year ago when my big girl started (although of course you couldn’t have, as you were a kindy mum too then).

    Two weeks in, we now have a very tired year 1 girl, but we’ve figured out what works for us, and when it’s just time to stop and rest.

    I’ve added your post to Francesca’s Festa of Favourites for February :-)

    http://francescawriteshere.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/francescas-festa-of-favourites-february.html

  27. Wonderful advice Beth! I have to agree with it all. I see too many parents go into the start of school all guns blazing, and the kids signed up to the wazoo with extra cirricular activities and playdates.

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