Ten pearls of wisdom from me, a working parent, to you, another slightly frazzled, highly caffeinated working parent starting out with school life this September.
All truths garnered from seven years on the battlefield.
Working Parent Truth #1
World Book day is a massive pain in the bum. Lets just say I am not a fan. I say this every year and it is a very unpopular opinion of mine but when has that ever stopped me?
Numero uno reason to detest this day is that Zak’s school actually changed it to “world film day” one year negating the need for him to actually pick up a book. The other years he assures me that not one book was read that day in school and instead they spend the day running around in fancy dress, which leads me onto numero dos reason to hate this hideous day.
Schools – please now lets be reasonable…do you know how much of a battle it is to get a child into their actual school uniform without adding in a fancy dress element? You bloody well do because you have thirty of the little buggers to deal with in PE lessons. So then why oh why then force parents who have actually already got no hours left in their measly working days to either MAKE *shudders* a costume or fork out for a plastic tatty one that has the tiniest most tenuous link to a real book? It might be a “whole lot of fun” for you (doubtful) but it just makes the whole week a tedious nightmare for us.
Grumble grumble – something about bringing imagination alive blah blah – just be prepared for it people. It’s coming.
Working Parent Truth #2
The school gates are basically high school days all over again. Whatever your situation was back then, now my perpetually exhausted friend, you are definitely not in with the in crowd because you are the “one that works” shhh! Sometimes you will race from work like a crazy person to make it in time to pick your little one up at the school gates (kudos for that by the way) and you will be met by stony looks from your mothering counterparts who have no idea who you are as you are quite simply never there.
Don’t feel bad or try to make them like you (they won’t). Instead, head straight on over to that sweaty woman in a suit who has just run in at the last second and is hiding at the back looking at her phone. That one there is the beginning of your tribe if you’re lucky enough to find one.
Working Parent Truth #3
The only person doing the homework is you. My niece has just started reception this year at the tender age of just four years old. On her second day she was asked to go home and create a collage about her life.
Now here’s a school who are setting up expectations from the get go. And the expectation is that this is no longer homework, let’s just call a spade a spade – it’s just parentwork.
Stock up your art caddy and set up a station to rival Mister Makers because you will be required to create, collate and probably levitate up some weird and wonderful things over the next 6-7 years of Primary school.
An exploding volcano and a roman amphitheater being just a few of our “highlights”.
Working Parent Truth #5
You will feel guilty. Always. Forever. After school clubs are your saviour and your nemesis. But not only that, you will always be the mum who doesn’t attend the 9:30 in the morning school star of the week assembly. And they sing happy birthday to the birthday children that week. You callous working parent you.
No matter your disdain for the seemingly unnecessary bureaucracy of school life, you will feel guilty and secretly wish you were that mum at the school gates each afternoon. We all wish it from time to time and that’s ok.
Working Parent Truth #6
Extra curricular activities? Yeah, they’re something for someone else kids. Your kid gets the aforementioned after school club. And maybe a slice of toast if you’re lucky.
There is no time for extras once you get home from work, make dinner and do the aforementioned parentwork. And you might feel really shit about that but that’s life unless you are lucky enough to have a lot of help.
Working Parent Truth #7
Nursery was actually EASIER, not harder (and there was no parentwork)
There it is – you spend years holding the dream of that school place in your sights with all it’s free-ness and freedom from the tyranny of unpaid fees when suddenly it occurs to you that erm, actually there are basically no jobs that start at 9am and finish at 3pm and if there are then yours certainly isn’t one of them.
Yep. It’s a BIG problem. Prepare to juggle.
Working Parent Truth #8
No labels need sewing. Repeat after me. NAME LABELS ARE FOR OTHER LESS BUSY PEOPLE.
Name labels pffff. This is a conspiracy between the stay at home mums and the needlework companies (if that is even a thing). You can write a name in the laundry label perfectly well so do a quick scribble and step away from the un-ironable iron-on labels.
Working Parent Truth #8
Teachers teach, they don’t judge.
You may think that your childs’ teacher is secretly judging you because you are never at the school gates but guess what? They don’t and they aren’t because the likelihood is that they too are parents with children and yep, you’ve guessed it, they’re never at their kids school gates either (unless their kid goes to their school which is just awkward). In all honesty, they just get it more often than not and are pretty supportive of your efforts to feed your family.
Working Parent Truth #9
There is a bear out there with your child’s’ name on it. Or a doll or hamster or something. This inanimate toy will find its way to your house one weekend and demand to be fed, entertained and photographed until you would like to throw said bear out of the window. A bit like the Tiger who came to tea except he was too big to go out of the window so mummy showed him the door (make no mistake that is really what happened there!) Anyway my point is that you need to know about the bear and be mentally prepared to love him, take him to exciting places and then most likely lose him.
Zak’s school didn’t actually have a bear per se, they did however have a travelling Posada (to non-catholics these are little figures of the Mary and Joseph that travel around in the weeks leading up to Christmas – a different house each night type thing). We had to light a candle and say a prayer with them before packing them up and sending them on to their next destination (school). I think the phrases “very precious” and “needs looking after” and maybe even “immense care” were used by the school before giving them into my shaking hands.
So my dogs definitely did not get hold of them and chew Josephs head off when I was upstairs sorting something out. Definitely definitely not.
Working Parent Truth #10
Perhaps the most universally acknowledged truth of all and not just for working parents – no matter how exciting, fascinating or fun filled your childs day at school was, when asked what they did that day they will say…
and shrug. Often followed by…
It doesn’t mean that it is boring or that they don’t know but that they don’t have the energy to relive their busy day for you right now.
And that’s it – my ten truths as I know them.
Good luck with the juggle if this is your first year and remember to get as organised as possible with my back to school hacks! That and stock up on the wine.