School days can bring freedom...and tantrums

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Are you breathing a sigh of relief this week or are you missing your children already, even if they did drive you up the walls over the holidays?

It’s time to get back to the usual routine of early mornings, lunch boxes and the constant flow of white shirts, soon to be grey and covered in unyielding, soap resistant marks.

I have mixed emotions at this time of year. Part of me can’t wait to get back to normality and sort through the mountain of work that has piled up and the other part feels sad at another summer coming to an end and will miss the lazy mornings and sunny afternoons picnicking in the park.

My house suddenly seems very quiet after what has felt like weeks of disorganised chaos but I think we were both looking forward to getting back to school/work for a break from each other – six weeks is a long time to spend in anyone’s company without someone committing murder.

This time two years ago it was my son’s first week at school. With a September birthday, he pretty much went straight into full days and that first week went relatively smoothly.

He had been excited all summer about going to ‘big school’ and had happily waved me off as he went into his class. But I imagine the reality of the full school day is a shock to the system and on around the eighth morning he burst into tears and had to be prised off of my leg by his teacher.

It seemed to suddenly dawn on him that this school lark wasn’t just a temporary thing and took to rebelling against the idea; what followed were several weeks of morning trauma and refusal.

We struggled to school each day, tears streaming (from us both) over uncomfortable collars, sleeves and shoes. Anything that could be a problem, was.

And then as quick as it had started it stopped again – he seemed to accept, or perhaps resigned himself to this new way of life and actually started to enjoy it.

Speaking to other parents I found they also came across issues, like their child avoiding school toilets and having inevitable accidents, or finding on their return home that they had hardly eaten anything, overwhelmed by the school hall environment.

Two years on and he loves school, though getting him motivated, dressed and out of the door in the morning still rarely passes without at least a few fraught moments.

That first year can be a trying time, but it can also be an exciting one.

Once they have become settled with their new way of life, they soon come home babbling enthusiastically about new friends and new skills.

Gradually they find a life of their own outside of you and if it is your youngest or only child, you too perhaps have free time and the chance to do something new, whether it’s going back to work or education or maybe just doing all the things you haven’t had chance to for years.

So if you do find that the next few weeks bring tears to your household then have faith that things will settle down eventually and that you are definitely not alone.