Starting School: The Expectations vs The Realities

Your child starting school is a huge milestone. You know they are about to begin one of the biggest adventures of their lives and on the one hand you are so so proud, but the thought of them doing it all alone can at times make even the coolest mum shed a tear.

So what are the expectations vs the realities of your child starting school? Are you going to be the mum you always thought you’d be?!?

Name labels

You expect to spend hours lovingly sewing rainbow coloured name labels on every single item they own, even their socks. You hope this means you will have a full set of uniform at the end of the year.

In reality, school starts tomorrow and you were so busy fitting in all the day trips, you have a pile of unironed sports kit that is screaming out for a Sharpie or Stamptastic kit. At the end of the year you have two of your own items in your bag, three socks belonging to a ‘Hugo’ and a ‘lost property’ whatsapp group with 1,785 notifications.

Will I cry?

You expect to be a blubbering wreck at the school gates on that first morning.

In reality, you may feel a little wobbly but you are going to be fabulous for your small person. Take a moment to look around, everybody will be doing the same. It is September so still totally acceptable to wear dark sunglasses to hide any tears on the walk home.

Will my child cry?

You expect to leave your child in floods of tears with them telling you all about the things they’re going to miss, and how much they love everything about you/home/pets etc.

In reality, there might be a few tears (especially in week 2) but your child will forgive you and you know you are doing your best to educate them. Most children will settle pretty quickly.

If your child is particularly anxious, draw a little biro heart on your arm and one on theirs, tell them that whenever they push the heart button you are sending them a hug. You could also attach a special keyring to their school bag so that they feel you are close.

So. Much. Art.

You think you will proudly display every piece of artwork that your child brings home, you couldn’t possibly bear to throw anything away.

The reality is that you will put the first three pieces of art on the fridge but by October half term you will ‘gifting’ these little masterpieces to the grandparents.  Especially the painting of ‘Autumn’ which is actually a whole piece of A4 paper painted one shade of brown.

If you can’t bear to part with a single piece, Barney & Wilf will put all of your child’s work onto one fine art quality print.

Playground Politics

You will think that you have ‘arrived’ when someone invites you to the secret, unsearchable ‘Parents 2018’ facebook group. You will volunteer for everything, join the PTA and Governors ASAP.

You absolutely will switch off the notifications to this group two weeks after joining. You will be bombarded with posts from parents demanding RSVPs to their child’s party. There is no good gossip to be had here. Apparently the staff know about these groups too so be careful! You will join the PTA but soon there will be a PTA meltdown where fractions develop at the gate. Soon after this you become mysteriously too busy to attend meetings because no one needs poltics like that in life.

Organisation Guru

You plan to buy an academic year diary and colour-code all school events. Your child will always have the right forms and equipment. You will respond to party invitations promptly, and presents will be thoughtfully purchased based on the child’s interests as surmised from the anecdotes your child relays to you each day. You plan to make themed bento styled pack lunches, with dinosaur shaped sandwiches and homemade green juice.

You will have at least three mornings during the year where you physically move faster than you ever thought possible in order to retrieve the forgotten PE kit. You will buy a stash of generic age appropriate presents because all your child tells you about their day is that they ‘played’. Packed lunches aren’t going well, your dinosaur sandwiches are always missing a leg. Signing up for the Universal Free School meal initiative might be a better option.

The little person

You hope that your child will be beyond happy, they’ll have the time of their lives, learn new things, make new friends, share new experiences and make you proud.

In reality they absolutely will.

Good luck to all of our parents this September, we hope the kids rock it.

By Louise Lennon