There is a saying about parenthood that “You’re only as happy as your least happy child”. I think it’s probably true. As a parent you can’t help but worry, especially when things aren’t going exactly to plan.
Molly started year one last week and it’s been a bit turbulent since. There is a bit of a jump in expectations going into Year One. There is less time for play, more homework. In Molly’s school they start to split the children into ability classes for maths and literacy. Her class has also been muddled up from last year, she is with a couple of friends but not all of them. It’s a lot of changes for a girl who has only just turned five. We are getting the fall out from it at home.
The pressure of having to be on her best behaviour all day means she is like a wild thing when she gets home. Shrieking, jumping on the furniture, being too rough with her sisters, that kind of thing. It feels like as soon as I pick her up I am telling her off, and that isn’t what I want at all. On Monday I came in while making tea and the twins had whiskers drawn on them with felt tip pen. It was, in retrospect, quite amusing, and they didn’t seem to mind. Molly tried to convince me they did it themselves, but the lines were amazingly straight for a 2-year-old. At the time I didn’t see the funny side!
Last week when I dropped her off we were running a bit late and went in the car, rather than walking which she hates. I was cross as it was the first day we were late and we didn’t have our usual leisurely stroll to school, which probably didn’t help. Molly was really sad about going in and hung back. She didn’t cry but the teaching assistant had to come and get her to bring her in. At home time it sounded like she had stayed sad most of the morning, which isn’t like her at all. On the whole she has a sunny personality and doesn’t stay grumpy for long.
She’s also been struggling to sleep. Most nights she is still awake at nine, which is unheard of from her. I would expect her to be tired after her busy day. I suppose it is just symptomatic of her feeling anxious and unsettled and all the new experiences and expectations bobbing around her mind. I have tried asking her how things are but she says she likes her teacher and her class and her friends and was sad because she wanted to go swimming. but I guess she doesn’t know herself.
These are the things we’re trying to help her settle back into school.
1. I gave her a wow ticket this morning – this is the school’s praise system where they take in a ticket if they have done something good. Today it was helping rushing her sisters to safety when the bin bag spilt rubbish all over the floor as I was carrying it outside. Hopefully not a metaphor for the week.
2. I encouraged her to take in something special for show and tell.
3. I put a new water bottle in her lunch bag as a surprise from her sisters to show they are thinking of her. She wasn’t allowed to open it before school.
4. We had some “big girl” time after the twins had gone to bed playing her favourite board games.
5. I had a genius idea for getting her to relax before bedtime. I gave her a piece of bubble wrap to pop. It worked like a charm and she was asleep after fifteen minutes, although the sound of popping from upstairs was a bit disconcerting.
6. I talked to the teachers and let them know she was a bit worried about school and finding friends.
7. We met with some school friends over the weekend to remind her she had people to play with.
8. We set up a special surprise treat for after school – being picked up by her Daddy.
9. She went to school on her scooter – her favourite way to travel.
10. We talked positively about the good things at school and made sure she didn’t know what we were doing with the twins while she was at school – except for the boring bits.
Today was a better day and she is feeling more positive about going in tomorrow. Let’s hope it lasts.
Do you have any good tips for beating the back to school blues?