7 realities of having a child at school.

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We’re pretty much smack bang half way through the first term of school. And while we’re easing into a routine now, it wasn’t always that way.

In the weeks before my eldest daughter started school I spent a lot of time making sure that we had everything she needed. School uniform, sports uniform, shoes, trainers, school bag, library bag, you know the drill.

I didn’t spend a great deal of time considering what the implications would be for me and the rest of the family. Here are the things I’ve discovered in that time:

1. There’s a lot of drop-offs and pick-ups to organise.

Approximately 202 of each per school year. That is 404 in total. No more Pre-School drop off at 8am and pick up at 5pm. No, these pick up and drop off times cut right into your day. Lucky to get to the office by 9.30am, it is then time to leave again by 2.30pm.

Time to start pooling with the neighbours I think.

2. There are lunches and snacks to prepare every day.

Five times a week. That is a lot of planning and preparation. We need fresh wraps in the house at all times and cottage cheese, and please don’t let me run out of strawberries. Must remember to put those ice bricks back in the freezer each afternoon too, as nobody likes warm yogurt.

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"If only my kids lunch boxes looked as perfect as this one."

3. The evenings can be fraught and grumpy.

I remember the feeling of total exhaustion after starting a new job. That must be what my daughter has been going through. Suddenly there is a semi-timetable to her week. Dance on Monday, singing on Tuesday, computers on Wednesday, sport on Thursday and library on Friday. And it was all new to her.

Needless to say the evenings are tinged with grumpiness. The elation of new friends and learning experiences quickly descends to tiredness and frustration. Don’t dare ask her what she did at school today after 6pm...

4. Packing the school bag requires a daily checklist.

As highlighted in point 2, there is now a timetable of activities. Mustn’t forget the library bag on Friday or the sports kit on Thursday. And there are themed days when the children attend in non-uniform. Please don’t let me be the first mum to send my child in to school in the wrong outfit one day.

5. Plain white socks are the worst invention ever.

Every day, plain white socks. Every evening, not so plain any more. Each pair has only been worn once so far and they now more closely resemble grey socks. Not sure how it happens, but I am now adding a line called “Plain White Socks” to the family budget.

"Every day, plain white socks. Every evening, not so plain any more."

6. School holidays are no longer all about less traffic on the roads.

For some 12 weeks of the year there is no school. My daughter will be able to recharge herself and spend some time playing and doing whatever it is you enjoy when you are 5. During this time someone will have to look after her. Am I to take lots of additional leave from work or am I going to pack her off to holiday camps?

But we're almost there. Not long to go until the first round of holidays.

7. I want to be involved.

Watching all the little people starting a new phase in their lives is exciting. I want to play a part in that. I want to be involved, to help out where I can. This is news to me as reading groups and canteen duty have never appealed to me. Until now, when it is my little one and her friends who will benefit.

At first I thought I was ill-prepared and that all other parents had already identified these thoughts long ago. But now I think it's a process that all parents go through after waving their first born off to school.

My main concern is that by the time my daughter starts Year 1, I will be able to write a list of a thousand more realisations I've had past this point.

What's one thing that's changed for you since your child went back to school?

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