It’s Friday and wow does it feel like a Friday! I am EXHAUSTED. Leo has just completed his first full week back at school and he has smashed it. After so many months off I was worried that there may have been lots of overtired meltdowns this week or that the novelty of being back in the classroom would fade fast. At the end of week one in year 3 though, Leo is happy and smiling and doesn’t seem tired at all. As Leo settles back into school life, I have been trying to get back into the rhythm of the school run mum routine and I have learnt a few things in this first week back. I thought I would share my lessons of being a parent of a school aged child during a pandemic (still can’t believe we’re living through a pandemic!) with you all. Let me know how the first week back has been for you in the comments.
5 lessons I’ve learnt in the first week back at school
1 Kids are LOUD – We all knew this anyway but after six months of constant noise, I had started to block it all out I think. The boys constant bickering and the never ending detailed explanations about different levels in Super Mario and chat about Teen Titans had sort of become background noise, a bit like music playing quietly in a lift (except it wasn’t exactly quiet). But now with one of the three children out of the house for six hours a day, the loudest of them all in fact, it’s only now with Leo’s voice gone I can appreciate just how loud he is! The house isn’t silent as I still have Alex and Tilly here but it is the quietest it has been between the hours of nine and three in a very very long time.
2 It really is better to be organised – I have been on the school run since 2017 and no matter how hard I have tried to be the organised mum, by the October half term I have inevitably forgotten to fill out a consent form for something or failed to make it through the term without having to sign the late book – the shame! This year I am trying to be better, I have had six months to give my head a wobble and get into the organised mum zone. I am packing his lunch box the night before and setting out all the kids clothes ready for the morning. A form came back today and it’s already signed and back in his bag, ready for him to give back to his teacher on Monday. I have written down all the days for PE, spelling tests, reading books etc in my new planner and I have been on time for pick up and drop off every single day. It remains to be seem if I can keep up this same momentum for the whole school year but being organised is amazing, I have been making my life far more difficult and stressful than it needs to be for the last three years.
3 Some days you will be more productive than others – I’m going to get so much done/The house is going to be so tidy/I can write every day/I will never get behind on work again – these are just some of the thoughts I had leading up to the start of the new term. With one less kid to look after in the day I thought I was going to be crazy productive, proudly scribbling big fat ticks all down my to do list and finally sorting through all the emails in my work inbox. My plans for my new found freedom have come into fruition some days and other days I have turned into what can only be described as a human shaped sloth. For example, at the beginning of the week I caught up with a load of work that had been on my list for a while, I had a phone meeting, I set out plans for upcoming work and even started playing around with some fiction writing. Smashing it. Today? Well, the house needed tidying but during Tilly’s nap I let Alex play a game on my phone for almost 2 hours so I could watch Netflix. Bad mum? No. Lockdown was the biggest parenting challenge most of us have ever faced and I think we all deserve to decompress and breathe out again now that we have the chance. There has been no work/family life balance these last six months; family has been the priority and trying to do enough work to not lose my job has been second on the list. There has been a grand total of zero time for myself so I will watch rubbish on TV for an hour or so some days if I want to, don’t we all at least deserve that after these last few months? Like I said, some days you will be more productive than others and that is totally ok.
4 The school run in Covid times is not fun – Not that the school run has ever really been fun but I am so confused every morning at drop off now! Before we used to all stand around in the playground and our children would run off to their lines. We would all wait around until they went off into class and job done. Now it just feels like a free for all at the school gate. We are not allowed onto the school premises so it is literally dropping them off at the gate and leaving immediately (new rule: no hanging around). I have never really got on board with big chats with other parents at drop off as it still feels like the middle of the night to me, I’m barely awake and just want to get home for coffee. But on the odd occasion a conversation has started I feel like a kid breaking class rules, loitering by the gate chatting. Leo’s start time has also been brought forward by twenty minutes and I can’t explain to you how devastating that is for someone who struggled to be on time anyway. Pick up is just as confusing. We are all supposed to keep 2 metres apart but no one is. All the parents just spill out through the gates and onto the pavement and if I am not early enough to secure myself a good spot inside the gate, I am a nervous wreck worrying Alex is going to try and bolt into the road. Things are going to get even more complicated next week when Leo needs to be dropped off at half 8 and Alex can’t go into nursery until ten to nine. Standing on the pavement for twenty minutes isn’t really what I want to be doing before I have had breakfast in the mornings.
5 You will miss them more than you expected – I really thought that after six months together at home and the intense forced hibernation with them all during the height of lockdown, that there was no way I was going to be sad when school started again. I knew I would miss Leo, he’s been my shadow (well, one of three shadows) since March and I have enjoyed his being around more. He was a big part of the quaranteam and I was prepared to miss him a little bit at least. His first day back though, I felt sadness amongst the relief. I pined for him. I missed the background noise of his never ending chatter, I wanted him to be sat next to me chatting continuously and giving me kisses and cuddles just because. I really really really missed him. I will admit that this feeling has eased as the week has gone on but I am still finding myself feeling a bit lost in the middle of the day when I remember he’s not here. When I am making lunch for two kids instead of three, when Alex wants a TV programme on and I don’t have to try and negotiate with Leo to change the channel, when no little voice shouts a me for my horrific singing while I wash the dishes – I miss him. Things will get back to how they were soon enough, I imagine it won’t be long before I start wishing school could maybe finish at 4 instead of 3 or I bask in the silence instead of it making me feel sad. For now though, while school life still feels all brand new, I miss him.
How has the first week back at school been for you? Has pandemic school life taught you anything new? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.