This morning while waiting for a second round of toast to pop ( burnt the first round) I looked up our school website and took myself to the folder Laethanta Saoire(that’s Gaeilge for Holidays for my non Irish speaking friends. I’m one of you…just making the effort because…Gaelscoil!). I stared with puffy sleepy eyes at that little blue line showing download time and when it finally opened I counted them up. The days left. The number of tough and grumpy early mornings of school left. Fifteen.
It got me thinking about the vast difference between those happy and energetic first fifteen days of a new school year against the everyone’s-tired-we-hate-mornings battle of the final fifteen at the end of the school year.
The 15 First – September
- Disbelief and pride that the kids are another year older. Regardless of when their birthday falls, it’s always the idea of them moving up a school year that makes me really marvel at how they’ve grown and how are they this age already?
- Stationary porn! Oh this one is for me. The smell of new books, the look of all those perfectly sharpened pencils, a rainbow of markers all with correct lids firmly snapped on, the potential of a blank notebook and enough pencil sharpeners and erasers to see them through till college.
- You create a Pinterest board entitled “Interesting and healthy school lunch ideas” and it’s a selection that Martha Stewart would be so proud to provide. Mom.Of.The.Year!
- Uniform Sundays! No more hitting the couch with a tube of Pringles and a cheeky glass of vino! No way lady, from now on Sunday nights are not for Kardashians, Sunday nights are you and that basket of fresh smelling, fresh air dried uniforms. You’ll iron everything from socks to ties, you’ll hang five complete uniform kits on five Ikea clothes hangers and each is labelled Monday through Friday. For each child. Yes you will!
- New Year New You! So what the resolutions you made back on chilly January 1st only lasted six weeks. Ok, four weeks whatever! New school term, new start! This momma is getting her fit swag back on baby! It’s going to be no junk food on weekdays, 8 pints of water daily, Couch to 5k all the way! By the time the School Mommas Christmas Bender comes around you will be the hot B.O.M.B! (Bit Of Mom Booty..yes!)
- And we’re back on Pinterest! This time it’s those popular buzz words : Meal Planning. You title your newest board ” Brain Foods & Super Foods” and fill that board up with Wholegrain pasta bakes, Salmon and Kipper Surprise Souffle, Blueberry Binge Smoothie and Raw Brocolli & Kale Superfod Salad. They will eat it and they will be Super Brianiacs for sure!
- The night before the first day back, you’re buzzing with fresh enthusiasm and decide to review the setting of the alarm. Last year you were getting up at 7.30am but this year no rushing about, none of that high-speed breakfast cooking. This year you are getting up 15 minutes earlier and will be all showered and dressed before hitting the kitchen. And *gasp* No Snooze Button! You are going to be that woman who, when your feet hit the floor the Devil says ‘Shit she’s up’!
- Back in July you got yourself onto Amazon and after an hour of thrawling through the options ordered yourself the Busy Mom’s Family Calender. Its up on the wall, it’s colour coded to each family member. Every after school hobby, every class mates birthday, every school sponsored walking cake sale gala fete and four playdates per child per month scheduled in non-erasable ink.
- Gimme an R, Gimme an O, Gimme a…Ok, Routines are back in business! Let’s do this! Back to bedtime being a milatery exercise and a masterclass in timekeeping! 07.00pm is supper time (something wholegrain or green no doubt), 07.10pm is pyjamas and teeth brushing. 07.20pm is into bed and five minutes reading for each child and they are out like sweet little lights for a good and solid 12 hour sleep.
- Now that you’ve got your mom-swag back in business and with that extra 15 minutes early rise and shower every morning you are going to be the well turned out stylish school gate momma that you always knew you could be. You plan the Autumn/Winter capsule wardrobe with classy knee-high boots, a peep of a frilly boot sock for detail, a selection of comfy yet pretty and just a teeny bit kinda sexy dresses with a wealth of chunky knits to keep you snug. And scarves. So many many scarves tied in a different and fascinating manner each morn. (There’s a Pinterest board of ideas you ‘Liked’ last Autumn!)
- It’s time for punctuality. Class is in session at 08.50am you say? My preened and nutritionally vibrant brainiacs will be patiently waiting for the gates to open by 08.40am. Every Day. They will, wait and see.
- ‘Right, we’re back to school now kids & I want that new uniform looked after so the minute you’re in the door its off up to your room and change into play clothes. Hang up the uniform prop-er-ly do you hear? I want no dirty things on the floor, laundry basket.’
- You dedicate the first 30 minutes to an hour when they get home (and after the changing of the clothes) to creating a calm and encouraging homework environment. No distracting tv or radio in the background, a small snack plate of mixed seeds and nuts and a glass of water. You’ll sit next the them and dedicate yourself to seeing them through each math problem and piece of prose like the clever zen nurturing mamma they need. Really, you should have thought of home schooling, this is gonna be fun.
- This is not going to be easy, you admittedly did see a very lax tv allowance develop over the summer and with the
unpredictablepredictably wet Irish weather there was definitely too much couch potato action but that’s all done with now. New rules state no tv before school, no tv until homework is done and an allowance of 30 minutes non negotiable screen time per day. Read. Talk. Create. Dream.
- You know, you’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t admit all this planning, new start, academic talk and stationary porn didn’t make you think maybe going back to school is something to consider yourself. Who knows, a little engage the brain time, retrain in some new direction, an evening class perhaps. Hmm…New term new me and all that!
The 15 Final – June
- The shock and horror that they could be really finished another school year, saying goodbye to another teacher, moving on to another class. But they’re my babies…slow down babies, slow the growth!
- We could easily start up the Nibless Pencil Society of Ireland in this house. Every writing pencil, colouring pencil and if we’re making lists, my eye pencils are all bloody nibless! Why? Because the supply of sharpeners and erasers to get us through to college appear to have been eaten up by the school bag monster who must be living at the bottom of the bag and thriving on a diet of old banana skins and dust like crumbs of dried old crusts. Clean out your bags, children, sharpen your darn pencils!! Argh.
- Another day, another plain ham sandwich. What’s the point in giving them anything different, they only eat what they like and they only like pain old ham. Sometimes dry chicken. Treat days are a mixed selection of whatever Halloween 2014 sweets we have left over in an old Kilner jar.
- Monday morning, you’ve had two days notice that it was coming yet you’re still utterly unprepared and if your life depended on it you could not name a location where any one of the three school ties might be. And as for ironed? Ha. Its more of a wash basket rescue to find a pinafore or cardigan that can get the baby-wipe treatment! Oh and good luck with finding two matching shoes, sure no one has seen those since last Friday and that’s practically years ago.
- Driving in your car, bleary eyed and hiding behind some megawatt big shades and you pass a young athletic looking blond out jogging. You laugh and grumble at her…”Go home ye show off. Have some cake…” and deep inside you realise you may be a little bitter that those three energetic weeks you invested in your New You plan have not really stood to you all that much. All those 15 mornings last September when you hit the road with the toddler in his buggy and oh, how you powerwalked, even had a go at jogging…and yet here you are very much not beach ready. Cake ready. Your soooo cake ready right now.
- A passing glance at the kitchen clock, its 5.35pm. God they’re going to want dinner now. Again. Didn’t I just fed them like two hours ago or something. What to cook, what to scrape together to ease any guilt that they may not be as nutritionally vibrant as they were back in September. You’ll root around in the press that you secretly call the Crap I Bought That They Will Not Eat press…in behind the unopened cous cous, past the brown rice and next to the wholemeal rye crispbreads you find a half bag of wholegrain pasta. Oh, and a can of tuna! Score. Yes it’s canned, but its in date (just) and it still counts as brain food, right?
- What’s that noise? Where..What…my alarm. Again? My God has there been, like, six school days already this week! Ugh…how is it not Saturday already. Feck it. Snooze button….*20minutes later* …What’s that noise? Alarm. Feck. Late now…
- Ah the Busy Mom’s Family Calendar, that was nice hanging there on the wall. Where is it now? Oh it fell down after Christmas I think, the kids chopped it up for some picture collage for school I’d say. Pretty sure we have a school sponsored walk bake sale gala fete next week. Crap…I actually think that may have been today. Ugh…
- Now, there may still be three weeks of school yet but technically it is summer and it’s bright out till near 10pm so anything that keeps them out from under my feet and the fresh air is good for them so bedtime, well that’s a bit scuppered. It’s now somewhere between 9.35 and 10.05pm I’d say. And given that I can’t wake to my alarm it means they sleep till nearer 8am (makes for a pretty manic rush out the door but…) so they do still get about 10 hours sleep. That’s ok, isn’t it?
- These mornings are pretty tough now, it’s like trying to run through deep mud wearing concrete wellies. Everyone is tired and looking forward to the school’s out for summer announcement. Hitting the snooze button up to the very last minute does not an easy morning make. Yesterdays jeans, with the creases behind the knees and the worn looking saggy bottom will do in a hurry and yes, I slept in this t-shirt but I’ll throw on a hoodie and big shades and who’s gonna be looking. Running so late there’ll be no witness around the school gate anyhow. I’ll make a special effort to get myself together for collection time, that’s what I’ll do!
- Two words: Punctuality Schmunctuality. Better late than never is the motto for this month.
- The last few weeks of school and you’re just hoping that neither of the kids have one of those crazy over night growth spurts. If they don’t grow at all, not even a centimetre then we may just get to the last day with this slightly too short pinafore and shirt that has a few buttons under serious pressure and if we don’t pull the waist of the tracksuit bottoms all the way up- just wear them low-riser hipster style then they pretty much meet the ankles and don’t look *that skimpy.
- The days are busy and the evenings are long and bright, you call them in for bedtime and after twelve attempts you finally get them to react. And they come running in, sticky and dirty and give you the ‘Should I do my homework now?’ bombshell. And even though it is not a new concept, you’ve gone through it four days a week every week since the start of the school year, it comes like a bucket of ice water. ‘You have homework? But it’s bedtime? What homework do you have???..’ And in place of the usual bedtime story you run through eight times tables and a chapter from their English reading book, while struggling with pyjamas, brushing someone’s teeth and nursing the toddler… It’s still a story at bedtime I suppose..!
- I have a theory about the bad tv habbits. In fairness it’s a new theory ( just thought of it now) and not fully developed but I blame the winter months for the bad tv habbits! I do. When it’s wet and icy and cold out and no one wants to be in the garden and you’ve exhausted your Pinterest list of Cool Creative Kids Ideas, well you fall back on the telly. When you just need two minutes to rummage around for a wash basket rescue item, well who’s going to entertain them more than SpongeBob? So in these hard slog Final 15 days of school you’ll probably have breakfast with SpongeBob, maybe a spot of afterschool snacking with him and through the
unpredictablepredictably wet Irish summers you’re likely to turn to the box a little more than you ever really planned to.
- The countdown is on, we’re about to enter 40 days of freedom from alarms, school runs, homework, packed lunches, schedules and calendars. Mornings without plans or need for rushing, hours and hours and hours to fill. Actually, that’s quite a lot of time to plan for, 40 days. Maybe I should think about a Pinterest board for this, 40 Days of Summer Activities. Schedule in a few playdates. A summer calendar and a few plans. I mean, I give it a week before I hear how bored they are. Lord, what will I do with three kids to occupy for 40 days, we’ll all go mad… I can’t believe we only have 15 more days of lovely, lovely school left! God help us….