Perhaps you have just finished your first week of being a school mum. Or maybe you are like me, and your fourth child has just entered the world of formal education.
Over the years I feel like I have done it all:
– First child at school with his brand new baby brother in my arms.
– Teachers I have loved from the start and some I have walked away anxious about.
– We have home-schooled and changed schools.
– Had an anxious child and an excited child.
– I have been prepared and also completely caught off guard.
I remember my first year of being a school mum. Somehow we had missed the letter with the school supplies and on the 25th of January (the day before a public holiday) I suddenly realised that my 4 year old needed to go to school with more than just a vegemite scroll and school bag. A quick scan of the school website and I had a list that may as well have been written in a foreign language! It was 3pm, 40 degrees outside and I was 5 days overdue with baby number 3. I grabbed the kids, we jumped in the car and stood in the unairconditioned warehouse praying that I didn’t go into labour while grabbing the artliners and HB pencils.
Since that day, I have learnt a few things about being a school mum.
1. The teacher is very unlikely to single you out as the only parent who didn’t buy the Aloe Vera tissues. If you miss something off your list, you have around 199 more school days that year to make up for it. But… I now fully take advantage of ANY system that allows me to order and have my school supplies delivered!
2. Teachers are people too. Don’t get caught up in ‘reputations’ or what others may have to say about their experience with her or him. Each child is unique, each teacher is unique and their relationship will be unique. Listen to their experience and wisdom. Sometimes it is hard for us to see our kids from someone else’s perspective, but it most often comes from a place of wanting to see your child be the best version of themselves. That being said, sometimes even teachers get it wrong or personalities are going to clash. This is where the Golden Rule can become a great lesson for both you and your child: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
3. Don’t feel the need to keep up with everyone’s pinterest worthy lunches, back to school photos or hair! Find what works for you, create a simple system and stick to it. Being prepared with pre-cut fruit, cookies in the freezer and large packets of crackers that enter the Bento style lunch box has made my mornings so much simpler. The extra plus side – if it is organised well, the kids can do it themselves! And if you forgot the ‘Back to School’ photo last week, don’t fret, do it today. Next year you won’t remember that you were actually a few days late.
4. Say ‘hello’ to the mum next to you. Mums in the class can become your absolute lifeline. They will fill you in when you have forgotten about Book Week or the 100 day celebration. They will wait with your child outside the class when you are running late because the baby had a poosplosion. They are not the competition, they are friends waiting to be made. Keep your circles open. If you see a mum standing alone, add her in. There’s that Golden rule again!
As I enter this school year, I try to remind myself and my kids that school is about learning. Learning about themselves, others, the world around them and how it works. I believe that relationships always come before tasks. A child won’t learn if they are feeling sad or unsafe. Doing all that we can to make the experience of school a pleasant one will mean your child will reach their learning potential.