Thursday, 6 September 2012

Starting school….a working mum’s crisis?!

So here it is, my first ever blog and to be honest, the topic chose itself….Ellie has started school and I am already wondering quite how I’m going to balance everything.
I remember the moment just few days ago when I’d finally finished sticking and ironing on name labels for Ellie's school clothes, shoes and bags – I felt pure relief that the final thing on the preparing for school checklist was done. In the end this final task was actually fairly simple….ok so the first label is more melted on than ironed on, but it's hardly noticeable. It does of course remain to be seen if the labels stay on and if they prevent things getting lost. I've heard several times now that Ellie is unlikely to still have all of her things by the end of the first term and quite likely to have other children's things. This mysterious phenomenon apparently includes bags and shoes - oh joy!
Anyway, there’s no denying the fact that once the relief passed I felt a mixture of excitement about Ellie starting school, shock that she really is school age now and if I'm honest…. terror at the growing feeling that balancing working full time with being mum to a schoolchild is going to be harder (yes harder!) than it's been as mum to a pre-schooler. 

The tone was set when I went for the new parents welcome evening at the school and it quickly became clear that I needed to find a way, alongside working, to fit a home visit from the teacher and TA, visit to school with Ellie to try on uniform and three separate short school settling in sessions into a three week period at the start of the summer. All of this came with well under three weeks’ notice. (It's worth remembering that it's 9.00 to can't just pop in on your way to or from work.)

Next, I had a conversation with a teacher who explained they do occasionally do things 'off the cuff' so parents might get late notice of things going on. I did of course politely point out that there's every chance I won't be able to join 'the off the cuff brigade'. I was reassured that it was fine but somehow I didn't feel any better.

Then there is sharing morning, the weekly event where parents go into the classroom at the start of the school day and spend time looking at their child's work. Just to clarify - this happens once a week, every week. I've already roped the childminder and grandparents into this, but even so - I can't help but feel that I'm not there for my little girl because I won't be able to go every week or even every other week.

So here's the thing, I do want to be involved with Ellie's education, I do want to get to know the school, I'm lucky in that my work are really flexible, but there is no doubt that being a working mum to a school child feels like a whole new era of challenge.

As I finish this first blog entry it’s the end of Ellie’s third day at school (well half day, since she’s mornings only for the first month) and she’s fortunately settling in just fine. With a pinch of luck, a great child minder and the necessity of getting on with it, we seem to have come fairly unscathed through the first few days. I was able to take and collect Ellie on her first day but not since and when you hear other mum’s talking about collecting their child daily it is difficult not to feel a twinge of guilt. My saving grace is as always my gorgeous daughter who seems to think that the both the childminder and school are fun! Maybe, just maybe Ellie’s not nearly as bothered about my not being at the school gate as I am.

So there it is…my first ever attempt at a blog. I’d love to know what you think so please send me a message either on here or via twitter:

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