As the leaves start to turn and the sun sets a little earlier each day, that buzz of summer is slowly engulfed by that looming apprehension of the first day of school and the mild dread of heading back to work. If it's your first time dropping your little one off into reception or it's time for your youngest to fly the nest then I feel you! It can be a really emotional, tricky time for so many reasons, so here are my top tips for coping with the most common issues parents face.
The new dynamic that arises when your child starts cool is one parents often struggle to get their head around. It's a horrible feeling when your child comes home from school having learned new words from the playground (and not necessarily nice ones) that you certainly didn't teach them, and all that time and effort you have spent rounding your child seems to be unraveling as they are suddenly exposed to a world of external influences independent of you. It's completely natural to worry about them on their first day, whether other children will be nice to them or whether they will be thinking of you as much as you are thinking of them, but it's a really important lesson for both of you to learn that you cannot be there to kiss it better all the time - this is their first step towards independence and you have to let them take it.
But this step towards independence does not mean a step away from you. It can feel unfair that you don't get the best version of your child; you drop them off clean and bright-eyed and pick them up weary and crabby. But the school pick-up is the best bit and it makes me feel closer to my kids than ever - you can have a little car seat therapy session and hear all about their day and how excited they are to have learned to spell a new word. Sure September is stressful but it's also magical - enjoy it.
Dreading the 'Empty Nest'
Parents always joke about how lovely it is when the kids go back to school; we can finally get that loooong overdue haircut or manicure, we can have a long shower and actually have time to shave your legs, we can binge that racy Netflix series you've been dying to watch. But if it's your youngest's first day of school it can be an extra emotional time. Although those early days with a toddler are exhausting and challenging, they are also the most magical - And as you drop your youngest at the school gates for the first time you realise that you'll never have those days again. You have had a constant companion and now they're gone for 7 hours a day and you're left with silence for the first time in God knows when. Of course that is going to feel weird!. So, celebrate their big day and their growth, but it is perfectly okay to have a little cry for you on the way home if you need (I know I will!).
"What Now?"This freedom is certainly bittersweet. Sure the first couple of days of school is bliss but once you've finally reclaimed your house after the summer and you've caught up with your friends, what are you supposed to do with yourself? Don't confuse this new space in your life with being redundant because trust me - as a mother your job is never done and being a school mum means you're needed just as much but in a whole different way! But as your child experiences this newfound independence you do too - so use it! This transient time signals a new chapter of your life; what do you want it to look like? When your youngest heads to school for the first time it is a great time to refocus and reevaluate your life. Set goals and see this extra space as an opportunity to start a new project like working on your health and fitness or even starting your own business. Whether it's a lifestyle enterprise or you set your sights on Dragon's Den, being your own boss is a great way to fit your job around the school run and it can really fill you with a sense of empowerment. For more tips on starting a business as a mother check out my last blog here. So, be kind to yourself during this emotional, transient time, savour every single moment, and as your role as a mother evolves take this opportunity to write the next chapter exactly how you want it to be.
Lots of love Keri x