Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Surviving it all...a mother's perspective

In my previous post I shared my own worries over my little one starting school last year. I'm no expert, but I thought I'd put together a survival guide, sharing my personal (some tongue-in-cheek) tips on how to get through the first year.

  1. Before all else, set your alarm and make sure it is set for 15 minutes before you actually have to get up. Then aim to leave the house 10 minutes before you actually need to. Trust me the "walk of shame" as once documented by the lovely Ruby of Living in Bury St Edmunds is not a nice experience, especially if suffered on a regular basis.
  2. Have all items of uniform ready for your little one to dress himself/herself. That means you can keep your own pair of hands to get yourself ready, i.e. brushing your hair and cleaning your teeth (be careful to this bit right as toothpaste in the hair is not a classy sight).
  3. Smile from the moment you walk out of the front door. I don't mean the permanent beam that synchronised swimmers and ballroom dancers carry throughout their performance, but the pleasant acknowledgment that you give other fellow parents en route to the same centre of learning.
  4. Learn the humble smile of shame that should be used only on the walk of shame. This only comes with practice and should combine a look that entices camaraderie and one that quietly acknowledges defeat. Best to research body language in gorilla behaviour to get this one right.
  5. Remember this is your new job! Arrive on your first day, as though you are starting in a new workplace where you have to create the right impression. Look your best! Be polite and find a way to remember the names of everyone you meet.
  6. As you begin to recognise people, talk to as many as you can and ask them about themselves. However, beware you don't want to come over as the village nosey parker, so attack this one with stealth.
  7. Do take the time to talk to others who are sat on their own and not part of a group. They're probably not odd or different. They're most likely to be shy.
  8. Take the teachers' advice. They know what they are doing. If you disagree with any slightest thing, make an appointment to see them after school.
  9. Read with your child regularly. After all, the sooner they can read back to you the easier life will be. No longer will you be the only one looking for directions to the toilets when in town. They'll be able to look for the signs themselves.
  10. Let your child take the lead in home assignments, whilst providing support to help them finish. Remember it's a family learning project not your project and doesn't have to be perfect (I must remember this one!)
  11. If it doesn't do already, encourage your school to hold coffee mornings on the first day of term. It's a great opportunity for people to get to know each other. After all everyone's in the same boat even if you have a different paddle.
  12. Try to avoid forming your own clique. They are so last century. Even if you belong to a regular group of friends who have lots of things in common, try to include others. Remember, this year's clique member may be next year's outsider.
  13. Don't gossip about others, as they might gossip about you. If in doubt, have another look at my previous post about cutting other mothers some slack.
  14. Try to help with your school's fundraising group, even if you can only spare a couple of hours throughout the year. You will be able to raise funds for some extra goodies that will enhance your child's experience even more!
  15. As soon as you can, encourage everyone to swap telephone numbers and try to help each other out. If the teacher is amenable, post up a form for people to fill in. You'll be surprised how many people will be happy to share contact details.
  16. Be there in time to pick them up. If you like a good gab, feel free to turn up 10 minutes early. If you're a bit shy off the starting block, one minute before the school bell will do. Whatever your desire, just BE THERE...and if there's an emergency...ring someone on your contact list who could help out at pick-up time. Your little one would probably prefer a brief play with a schoolmate rather than waiting in school for your arrival.
  17. Try to have a small snack available as soon as your little one comes home. These little people are hungry and if something's not available, you risk the contents of your fridge being eaten before tea-time! A selection of chopped fruit works for us while I am busy in the kitchen!
  18. Try to invite a school-friend over for tea once in a while, to a schedule that works for you. Before too long, once you've found relationships you can trust you can pick up the respective children from school, giving other parents some time off for a couple of hours. It will work for you too!
  19. I know school has only just started, but look forward to the holidays and if you can organise a date for the whole class to meet up, if people are available. Keep it informal and easy.
  20. Finally, relax and enjoy the me-time you so much deserve.

There is so much more that could be added here, but everyone's experience is so much different, so please feel free to share your own tips in the comments box. Also, if you have some time, take a peak at an article which I've just had published over on the British Parent Bloggers site about The Best Days of Your Life. Go on...settle yourself down with a cup of tea and some tissues and enjoy some more time out!

More reading is available as follows:


Ruby in Bury said...

You are absolutely right about the kind of smile it would be best to do when on the walk of shame. I am always determined to totally deny defeat rather than admit it and grin like a beaming maniac at everyone, which probably makes them think I am either proud to be late, or a bit strange.

I like number 8. I can't stand it when everyone has a bitching session in the playground about the teachers. Things like that can escalate fast, and in one of my children's classes, about 5 disgruntled parents all ended up taking their kids out and sending them to a different school. I am sure it could have been avoided without all the group gossiping to stir it up.

17. I have never done that and I so need to do it. In our house it's the biscuit tin that gets emptied and then no one wants to eat their tea (and I run out of Kit Kats for the packed lunches!)

20. No worries about that one - I fully intend to :-D


picklesmum said...

Ruby - Are you even allowed Kit Kats in a school lunch box these days? Jamie Oliver killed that fun for the kids didn't he?

Ruby in Bury said...

Picklesmum - I'm old school - Kit Kats and cheese strings :-D

Jo Beaufoix said...

I agree wholeheartedly with al of these 21st CM. It's a fantastic list.
I love the 'smile at everyone heading in the direction of your school' bit.
That includes the really annoying/bad drivers too.

You can call them names, but do it with a smile.

21st Century Mummy said...

Ruby - you're right about the gossiping. It can often get out of control. Group think is a powerful concept. Kit Kats...mmmm yum. I love them. Hope you've had a great week. Can't wait to catch up ;-D

Picklesmum - I'd love to see Ruby and Jamie meet up...that'd be fun!

Jo - I've already had to practice that smile today. Admittedly coerced by my friends Norma and Eric, who'd read this post - couldn't put it on when forced thought. It looked more like gurning.

BTW Ruby - thanks for your other comments on some other posts. Will catch up with them when I'm back at the PC....gotta rush to get the little legs from Nursery xxx