Friday 16 October 2020

One Term In

It felt at times like they would never return to school.  The six months we had was wonderful and exhausting, full of joy and fear and we all learned so much (definitely more about life than the national curriculum).  We adapted, slowly at first to this 'new normal' that was thrust upon us.  I got my babies back after losing part of them to school, I got time to invest in myself, which is strange to admit when I was also parenting full time, mostly alone with little respite. I went from a state of worry to one of acceptance and we found our way through those long days together.

And then September came and everything changed.  It was wonderful and exhausting all over again, full of joy and fear and we all had to adapt to a new routine, new expectations, things being a little bit like they were 'before' but not quite the same.  We all took to it differently.  Two children happy to be back to school, something they had been counting down to for weeks, one excited to start Reception at big school and one who really isn't convinced school is for him.  I was nervous about the new starter and overwhelmed by the multiple school runs and the different rules between the schools (One are allowed to bring books home, one aren't.  One school allows school bags, one doesn't. . . ) and then everything fell into place. I remembered which children had packed lunch on which days (all three boys have different lunch/school dinner requests), I remembered which children had to wear pe kits in on which days and then Cora started doing full days at school rather than 2 hour sessions and all of a sudden we were there.

After months of not having to worry about getting ready and leaving the house very much, we also had to start getting things ready for the transition. Buying supplies, new clothes, new shoes, doctor’s appointments, and new glasses. Luckily you can visit website to try on glasses to make the process easier. But finally we were ready to begin.

For 9 years I have had a child at home and this moment felt like it would never arrive, but it did and all four children were happy in full time school.  I thought I would be more emotional than I was but I think after those long six months, I was ready for a break, some time for me, time to get through the to do list that I had been putting off for six months.  

Today the bigger two break up for a two week half term and next Thursday the smaller two will join them and it can't come soon enough.  Those first weeks were hard, I had to meet them at school with a sugary snack and hope they didn't crash before they got home.  Their brains were working hard, they were having to be social with people they didn't live with and it all combined to completely exhaust them.  After a while they seemed better able to function (just in time for swimming lessons to recommence) and we had a short period of everything feeling settled but now they are getting harder to wake in the morning, I can see how much they need a break and I am excited to spend some quality time with them again rather than just trying to get through the afternoons after school without too much drama.  We are going to relax, take the mornings slowly and as everyone starts to regain energy, we will get out more and have our own covid-compliant adventures. 

This first term has shown me how resilient my children are, how well they can adapt, how much they can learn when they have a teacher who isn't also trying to be a parent, dinner lady, cook and cleaner and how much we all needed a little time apart to make our time together feel more special.  I have learned how short those 6 hours really are when you are trying to get things done, and also that having time for myself during the day doesn't magically make me a more patient parent when they get home.  I have learned that the worst thing I can do as a parent is not meet them at the school gate with a snack and that it doesn't matter how big a packed lunch I send them in with, they will be starving every moment from when school ends until their eyes finally close for the night.  I feel sad that their first terms back were not everything they were looking forward to, something Archie has found particularly difficult with starting a new school.  He looked round on the open day, saw so much he wanted to do but with Covid measures, the only part of the school he has seen this term is his classroom.  I am sad that Finn can't show Cora round after being so excited that his little sister is starting his school as they are in different bubbles and so can't mix.  

The countdown is on now until I pick up Dylan and Archie and the half term holidays start for them.  It has been a really long and also super quick first term and it has been good for all of us.  Now just 4 more days until I can turn off the morning alarm!

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