Week one’s over! Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine and read on…

So, you survived week 1 of 39 and whilst, having lived through the first week of their thirteen year school career, your child is probably exhausted, there’s a fair chance that you are verging on being utterly traumatised! I definitely think that we parents don’t get the recognition we deserve for the hurdles we’ve jumped over in the last week.

Let’s just take a moment to reflect:

1. 1 week ago, we got the kids out of bed ridiculously early (considering it was still the holiday), to take them for the big school shop – Clarks (still recovering from that), Staples, M&S, BHS… vying with other shoppers for the ticket machine and despairing that Sports Direct stocks every size of track suit bottoms other than the ones you need.

2. The night before their first day, you stayed awake all night sobbing because you can’t believe how quickly the past 4 years have gone.

3. As you dropped your little one off with their teacher, you maintained a positive face as your child clung on to you begging you to stay, even though you were fighting back the tears yourself.

4. You smiled and were encouraging as you walked your child home on that first day, listening as s/he sung the praises of Miss Smith. You did not feel even a tiny bit jealous!

5. And then you got home, looked in their bags and realised that you (not your child), you had homework to do. The amount of letters that come home!

6. Day two arrives and you’re starting to look forward, thinking that perhaps you could find a use for the extra time you now have and your little one refuses to get dressed declaring “I went to school yesterday. I don’t need to go back”. And somehow you managed to express in incredibly simple and non-insulting ways, why they need to spend just a little while longer at school before they’re ready for the big wide world.

7. Somewhere in there, you’ve probably also worried a little bit that lunch will be ok; that they’ll manage by themselves in the loo; that getting changed for PE won’t take too long, and that they won’t completely put their foot in it and reveal what an incompetent parent you are – No? Just me then!

Yes. We definitely don’t get enough recognition for the turmoil we go through on account of our kids. And people tell me, it gets worse as they get older. Personally, I can’t begin to imagine how that’s possible!

So, how are we possibly going to survive this year if we’re all shattered and it’s all guaranteed to get worse!

What follows are some survival tips that I think might just help me and my brood cope:

1. Mornings can seem like a race, so get prepared: get the kid(s) to lay their uniforms out ready for the next day before they go to bed.

2. Don’t do everything for everyone: get older kids to help with breakfast, clearing up etc.

3. Tackle all those letters: my preference for dealing with these is to save them up for a week and then deal with them all in one evening. This way I don’t feel like school admin is intruding on every evening.

4. Maintain bedtimes: school is hard work and for their well being and a more peaceful home, they need to get enough sleep.

5. Enjoy family time: whether it’s a DVD on a Friday night or a family outing, the kids will be re-energised by spending time with you and it’s sure to cut down on the sulks if they don’t feel that they’re missing out on their time with you.

6. Breathe and enjoy: some evenings there’s just no time. I’m often cooking in the kitchen and the boys will want to do something obscure and time consuming at the most inconvenient time, and all I can think is You need to eat, I need to listen to you read; you need a bath and I have to get the washing on… and then my heart rate increases and I sense that I’m about to explode and sometimes I do. Other times, I manage to pause. Breathe deeply. And go with the flow. I’m not very good at going with the flow; I like a routine, but I do feel better when I relax a bit and don’t get too worked up. After all, I had kids so I could enjoy them, so my number 1 survival tip has to be that when you feel overwhelmed with it all, remember to breathe and enjoy these wonderful times.

Wishing you all a fantastic year!

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