Now that both my kids are in school, they seem to have a far busier social life than me. Every week at least one of them has a playdate with friends and this is on top of the usual after school and weekend clubs. I like my main purpose is to taxi them around to their social activities or collect them from friends’ houses.
Bearing in mind our youngest is still only four, I find it amusing that she trots off to other people’s houses without any care or hesitation. She had her best friend from her class over to play the other week and we were on constant countdown for weeks until the day would arrive!
Playdates for me seem to have their definite advantages and disadvantages so without further ado, here’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly side of playdates:
I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog for a while now, it has felt more than just a common blip of lacking inspiration. Perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons, but I suspect the main reason for feeling a bit strange is due to our youngest, Eva having started school in September. All through the summer I knew it was coming and felt emotional about not having my little side-kick around anymore. My husband watched me like a hawk during early September in case, I might have a bit of a slump.
The truth is that I was busy. I had a sudden rush of freelance work on and lots going on with project kitchen extension. So I relished the new found freedom of “getting stuff done” without the constraints of having to constantly think about Eva. And then in October it all came to an abrupt halt. The work dried up, the kitchen was finished and I felt lost. I had a delayed reaction to missing Eva; the pang of not having her around anymore suddenly kicked in. I missed having my little person with me again. I’d go shopping and the sight of other mums out with their little girls almost sent me wailing.
It occurred to me that whilst I missed having HER, I also missed having a sense of purpose. What was my role now?
This week, as most children go back to school, I’m aware that this is my last week with Eva at home before she starts Reception on Monday.
I can’t quite believe we are at the point where my baby, my youngest will be off to school.
Starting school is a big step for all children and let’s face it the parents too! For most children it’s a longer day, there’s uniform to get used to, a new place with a new teacher and new friends to make. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. We had some odd behaviour from Eva over the summer which was down to her being anxious about school and feeling a bit lost. More recently, she’s been excited about things like her new school shoes and being at the same place with her big sister – Alice. But she still has her moments; just this week she has had quiet periods where she admits to me in a little voice that she’s nervous. After a week of refusing to go to bed, I finally lost the plot with her last night only for her to break down into huge sobs and tell me how she was scared about starting school and how much she’s going to miss me. It broke my heart and no matter what I said, she just continued to howl!
For me, it’s going to take some getting used to as well. I will need to adapt to not having any little people around with me during the week anymore. Wednesday was always the day that Eva and I spent off together and whether it was a trip to the park, an outing to the supermarket or just getting on with chores at home, I will truly miss having my little side-kick around.
When the girls were babies, I can remember my Nan saying that we should enjoy our children as much as we could before we lost them to school. I know what she meant. From Monday the girls will be at school for most of the day and for most of the week, leaving me to pick up the grumpy, moody, scrappy bits in the morning and mid-afternoon.
When I had both girls at home there were many moments of hard work. There was a point where both were in nappies and like most other mums I had to deal with tantrums, potty training and fighting. It was exhausting but equally, it has gone in a flash. I can’t believe that come Monday, they will be gone.
As I sit here and marvel at how it can be possible to have exchanged nappies for school uniform in such a short amount of time, I can’t help but wonder whether I could have made more of those early days. Could I have done more? Could I have played with them more? Could we have done more trips out? Could I have spent less time on my phone and given them more of my undivided attention? I guess I’ll never know, but it’s no good looking back, we can only move forwards.
Looking at The Positives
I know that next week will be an emotional time for Eva and for me. It will feel almost like grieving knowing that I won’t have them around during the day, but I’m determined not to be too depressed or too nostalgic. Here’s some of the positives that I need to remember:
Eva is more than ready for school, she’s quick, on the ball and wants to learn.
Once she’s in the routine of going every day, I know that she will love school.
This is my time. As a friend recently said to me, the world is my oyster. I can focus more on my freelance business, go shopping, do some more writing, try to exercise more or whatever I want.
Weekends will be more precious.
It will definitely feel like the end of an era next week when Eva starts school. I know that it will be an emotional time, but it’s the start of a new chapter with hopefully lots to look forward to for both of us as well.
This year will always be remembered for how much your confidence started to bloom. Last October, almost ten months ago – you changed primary schools. I can still vividly remember being a nervous wreck the week before we broke the news to you. Knowing what a shaky start you first had at primary school almost two years ago, I was dreading the move. I couldn’t eat or sleep and wound myself up in knots about it. You weren’t very happy once we told you, but on your first day you practically skipped into your classroom with the two girls who were watching out for you and you never looked back! Yes there were some off days, but on the whole I couldn’t believe how smooth the transition was. I guess it was eased by the brilliant staff and school as well as some fantastic new friends.
We’re all so busy these days aren’t we? Trying to balance, family, work and kids can be a nightmare (especially in the summer holidays), but we seem to have passed on our busyness to our kids. And with stats and research saying that more kids than ever are stressed, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
We’re now three weeks into the six week holidays (how’s that going for you?!) and I’m really trying to get a healthy dose of activities and downtime into the mix. Don’t get me wrong, childcare for many parents means kids have to be at holiday clubs or activities for a lot of the week. I get that. But are we putting too much pressure on ourselves and our kids to do too much during the other times too?
Are you pleased to see the arrival of the summer holidays or does six weeks with the kids around feel you with dread? I’ve got to say, I always look forward to having a break and having the girls around even if they do drive me crazy. But I know a lot of other parents I’ve spoken to recently are dreading it. Why? Because the thought of six weeks trying to fill days with activities sends them into a tail spin.
Charlie at Mess Merlot recently did this great post about planning for the holidays . It’s a way of making sure you get a good balance of “Out” days and “In” days as well as keeping an eye on the cost. I truly believe for the sake of kids’ mental health, that they shouldn’t always have back to back activities planned in. It’s important for them to have some down time and a rest. This brilliant article highlights how kids need to have some moments of boredom in order to ignite their creativity. To find their own things to do.
We are lucky that we are having a two week break in Devon this year. After that, the girls and I have started making a list of the things we want to do over the remaining four weeks. Here’s some of our ideas and they shouldn’t break the bank!
To be honest Eva, it feels like a miracle that we have reached your fourth birthday. When you turned three, I thought we would be over the worst of the tantrums. I thought the feistiness and the attitude would calm down. But if anything, this year has been harder work than I ever imagined. And even as we approach your fourth birthday, we have experienced, just in the last few weeks, some of the most difficult behaviour yet.
Ever since you followed Alice into pre-school, two years ago, you’ve loved it. You wanted to be with the “big girls” playing the grown up games. But in the last few weeks, there’s been a huge change. I’ve had to coax and plead with you to get your shoes on to go and then finally end up half carrying and half dragging you down the road whilst you’ve been screaming at the top of your lungs. You enjoy it once you are there, but the performance we seem to go through most mornings is wearing and I dread to think what the neighbours think. Some bedtimes have been no better either!
We’ve had some really bad behaviour going on with our youngest daughter Eva these past few weeks. She has been aggressive, demanding and during time out periods, continues to wet the floor or her bed deliberately.
At my wits end with how to deal with these situations, I spoke to the staff at her pre-school, who were incredibly helpful. They did some one to one sessions with her and essentially, discovered that she is anxious about starting school. Eva told them and she has since told me that she is scared about making new friends, which breaks my heart.
Like most children (and perhaps like many adults), my kids will be quick to complain about the terrible things going on in their lives like homework, being made to get dressed or having vegetables for dinner, but they won’t often see the good.
I realised with a jolt this week that there are several things that they have where they’re better off than me! Here’s a tongue in cheek look at the injustices us parents face with what our kids have versus what we (don’t) have.
The other night at about 1am I was woken by my 3 year old crying out. I rushed in to her bedroom to see what the matter was and she immediately stuck her leg out of the bed, thrust her foot into my face and demanded that I rub it better.
I spent 10 minutes massaging her foot, which seemed to ease her pain enough to let her drift into a sleep, but every time I tried to back out of the door, she woke up, yelling “Owh my foot, keep rubbing it mummy.” This continued for another 10 minutes before I eventually gave up and ran downstairs for the Calpol.
This is not a one off scenario. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night many times in the same way. She always wants her feet or legs rubbed and it always ends in me giving her medicine.