parent opinion

'I'm no longer the most influential voice in my daughter's life.' Welcome to the school mum era.

In the blink of an eye, I have gone from the shock of that first tooth puncturing through drooling gums to the now palpable excitement of my girl’s first wobbly peg. 

Gone are teething devices and Bonjela in every drawer. It’s 3am and instead of a midnight feed with a hungry newborn, I'm desperately rummaging through my handbag for some loose coins to help the tooth fairy out. You won’t be catching this mum flinging dollar notes under the pillow. 

Safe to say, I am now well and truly entrenched in my school mum era

Unlike those first few fragile months of motherhood where I felt a village of support and advice from my mother’s group over sips of coffee at the local cafe, I am now navigating the first year of school a little differently. 

I am back at work as a teacher, which is probably the most exhausting part of this new season. Managing school drop-off, after-school care, lunch boxes, homework, Book Week dress-ups, library satchels and the right uniform on the right day, is quite the juggle. 

Life has become a new kind of busy.

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With this changing role has come the complexity of figuring out just how to approach the first year of school and the behaviours and expectations that come with it. 


Where does my child sit on the learning ladder? Is she adjusting well or overwhelmed by all the work? I no longer have a monthly app to cross-check milestones. The curriculum matrix emailed home from school is not as cute. 

How is she navigating break time? Does she drink enough water and eat all her lunch? Is she inclusive or not? Does she know where to go when she scrapes her knee? Are her peers her friends? If she needs to do a number 2, will she be able to wipe, redress and wash her hands… all by herself? 

The anxiety in processing it all is a lot! And although I worry through every detail, deep down I know she is fine. Without me. 

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It is term 3: we have survived two school holidays, cross country and two terms' worth of lunch boxes. Lunch boxes! I am okay.

Developmental milestones now come in the form of reading goals and friendships are forged in the classroom and at the monkey bars, not from strategic play dates with other mums. I have no say in it! 

I also now lament the days gone by when I could get away with being in my pyjamas all day while still being productive. 

Pick up and drop off require a whole new routine where I must actually brush my teeth and tidy my hair and pop on something half decent. I do not have a first name anymore. I am 'Isabella’s mummy'. And I am greeted as such by a herd of new friends who run towards me at pick up, desperate to tell me that they played together in the first break. 


We have also just navigated our way through some tricky friendship dynamics. Hearts have been a little crumpled, but not broken just yet. 

Learning that I am no longer the loudest and most influential voice in her head has also been a sobering adjustment. Everything has.

Paw Patrol is out. Barbie is in. We do not mash potato anymore. We Macarena. 

But in this new season, I am loving and leaning into the mum I am evolving into. A friend told me recently that when she once asked her mother what her favourite age was in rearing children, she said all of them. And I am starting to understand that better now. 

Each year and stage is so unique. They all come with their challenges yet they also gift us with the most incredible moments that the last one could not. We cannot turn back time, we can only move forward. 

I cannot guarantee that there won't be days when I still catch myself wandering through the baby section of a department store, swooning over all the cute accessories. But I know that time has now passed for me. 

So while I pack away all those newborn clothes, throw out the breast pump and start readying myself to put the cot on Marketplace, I am going to stock up on some coins. 

Apparently, the tooth fairy is quite slack and needs a helping hand in popping them under the pillow at night. 

Erin Siqueira is a freelance writer and teacher. She loves crunching her feet in the sand at the beach and watching her two gorgeous girls grow into wonderful human beings.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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