Hard work on the hamster wheel!

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“I hate school, mummy,” he cried. “I get so hot and bothered and sweaty and I work so hard.”

“The first week of school felt like the longest of my life! I know I’m not alone in feeling the huge change to our family, all my mum friends have been checking in on how we are each managing the change as mothers,” writes “Mummy” columnist KATE MEIKLE.  

“IF I’d had more fun I would explode like a firework,” exclaimed my brave, red-faced son after his first day of kindergarten. High fives all around the family. Five stars to the teacher! 

We couldn’t have been happier by his response to his experience of big school, with his too-big backpack, fresh uniform and new shoes he seemed to have grown up literally in the space of one day. My eyes welled up with tears of love and pride.  

But as the week went on the wheels started falling off the wagon. 

By Thursday there were tears: “I hate school, mummy,” he cried. 

“I get so hot and bothered and sweaty and I work so hard.” 

He couldn’t wait for the weekend. He was exhausted and would cry at the drop of a hat. Five o’clock seemed to be the crying hour and bedtime couldn’t come soon enough. 

Each night he asked me how many more sleeps until the weekend, a concept he hadn’t fully understood until now. Welcome to the rest of your working life, my boy! It seems like a little bit of his childhood has just slipped away as he’s now on the hamster wheel of a Monday-to-Friday working week. That makes me feel a little sad. 

And so it has gone, the highs and lows of each big school day. We were warned by the teachers to expect them to be tired, ratty and emotional but the onslaught of big emotions from our newly-minted six year old has hit us hard. 

By the end of the never-ending school holidays I couldn’t wait for our ice-cream-addicted, routine-abandoned kids to get started at school. Starting kindy was months of waiting for, talking about and planning, although I was the slack new school mum running out to the shops the weekend before school started for last-minute stationery, shoes and searching for the perfect lunchbox. I am still in search of it, by the way!    

The thing I overlooked with my boy starting big school was making certain he knew how to manage himself such as how to fill up his water bottle and splash water on his hot cheeks after running around at lunchtime. We are working on that now, and reminding him of what to do. It’s a big leap for the kids and also the parents. 

The first week of school felt like the longest of my life! I know I’m not alone in feeling the huge change to our family, all my mum friends have been checking in on how we are each managing the change as mothers. 

But somewhere between fireworks and meltdowns is the sweet spot we are hoping to reach. Seeing his happy, flushed face run out of the classroom, finding wonderful colouring-in sheets in his bag, hearing about some of the things he’s been doing and knowing that overall school is a happy, exciting place for him will lead to more independence, learning and of course, fun.

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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