The first week of September is a confusing time. I have some friends who are gutted to see their kids go back to school. They say things like ‘oh I don’t know what I’ll do without them now!’ and ‘Didn’t those 6 weeks fly!’. I think these friends are a little bit mental. Of course I enjoy having my three little kittens all to myself, but I also love the liberation of having them back at school or nursery and in a routine, so I have space to find some order in the household after 6 weeks of whirlwind. I can finally demolish the paddling pool and its murky green contents, shove the summer stuff back in the attic and have an ‘autumn’ clean so I can find my kitchen beneath all the Lego and Barbie dolls.
But with the back-to-school bliss of space comes other stresses: How will I get three different children to three different places at the same time? How many bloody name labels will I have to sew into sports kit this year? How am I going to convince the kids that 8pm is a cool bed time when they’ve been staying up till god knows when for 6 weeks? Is 4pm post-school run too early to have a glass of wine?? The questions are endless and its all very overwhelming. If you can relate, here are my top tips for surviving September.
Avoid the Rude Awakening
That alarm going off is painful for everyone on the first day of school. I try to shift their body clocks by moving their bedtimes back half an hour each night until we reach a school-appropriate time. Its better to do it gradually than have an almighty battle of the bedtime the night before the big day back, and then have round two when you peel them out of bed the next morning. Once they’re back in the busy routine of school they’re generally tired enough to adjust to the earlier time.
Make a Chart to Combat Morning Mayhem
A chart is a great way to ensure each child knows what they should be doing and when, so there isn’t a mad rush for the door at 8:30. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to rush a 6 year-old, especially when they seem to have no concept of time or deadlines. So instead I have made the morning school routine a game. If they have done the right thing before a certain time then they get a sticker – a full morning of stickers for each activity and they win a treat that evening. Have they got their school bag and uniform ready for the morning? Sticker. Have they brushed their teeth and put their shoes on before 8:15? Sticker. You know the drill. Download your chart here.
Ease Them In To Routine
After 6 weeks of carefree, unrestricted fun, the regiment and structure of the school routine is obviously going to be a shock to their system, especially if its your child’s first day of school. So take the first week easy. If you can drop them off in the right place and in the right clothes 5 days in a row you’re doing a great job – piano lessons and football are a bonus. Don’t add extra pressure on yourself or your kids by trying to sign up to every extra-curricular activity straight away; you can incorporate this into the routine once everyone has adjusted to it so its not too overwhelming. That way you can adjust the extras accordingly so you know how much your child can cope with. And definitely keep the weekend after the first week back free. Trust me – you’ll need it!
The Key to the School Pick-Up: Avoid Hangry
Nailing the pick-up takes organisation but its so worth it. Picking up your child from school is a perfect storm for an argument. You’re irritable because you’ve been sat in traffic for half an hour and come tyre-to-tyre with another mum for a parking space. Your child has had a long day and is probably tired and hungry. The tired-hungry combo results in a hangry child, and all you want is to hear about their day. So I always take a snack with me on the school run which the Thor backpack from KeriKit is ideal for. With designated pockets to keep my laptop and mumming stuff separate and thermal bottle holders I can bring a snack even if I’m coming straight from work. I feel like the coolest mum at the school gates as I do a Mary Poppins and produce all sorts from it. That way Jasper is always in a good mood on the drive home.
Its also a great opportunity for him to tell me how he is coping with school like a little car-seat therapy session. Hearing about who he sat next to and what his new teacher is like and how excited he is that he can spell ‘necessary’ really is the highlight of my day. So as much as the September rush is stressful, its magical – enjoy it.