Back to School Nerves or The Curse of the Working Mum


Funny how things don’t quite go as you expect isn’t it?

First Day of School Marked on a CalendarI haven’t written for a while – I think my last post was in April, though I have drafted a few bits and bobs for you over the summer holidays, which I will publish shortly – watch this space. I expected to have lots of time to write for Mayfair Mum, but it didn’t work out like that! Instead, I’ve had to wait for school to start so I can make the time to finish them off, add the photos etc.

I have enjoyed “living in the moment” though, or whatever that dreadful catchphrase is! We’ve had a super summer break (more to follow). It has been a welcome rest from the school rush routine. A chance to slow down and appreciate each other and have some real fun together. Little Chap has actually been able to share more about the things he got up to last year in the Nursery, than he was able to during the term. His latest was that his old Nursery teachers had told them all on the last day of term that if, when they are in Reception this term, they ever have any worries or want to talk about anything, that they are not to hesitate – they’ll be in the next room. That allayed a few fears about how Little Chap might cope with the transition.

And so here we are. The First Day of Big School has arrived. Little Chap is now a proper school boy in Reception. He is in the Robins class with half his friends from Nursery. The other half are in Squirrels and each class has a roughly equal number of new boys, one of which (in Squirrels) is already a good friend of Little Chap’s.

I did the Organised Mum thing as we broke up last term. Organising is what I do best. That’s why I worked in marketing and sales before becoming Miss Moneypenny. I like to plan and tick things off lists. I checked the uniform list issued last term and the notes I made at the “New Reception Parents” evening held at school, when they stressed the importance of non-marking soles on the plimsolls, begged us to buy velcro straps, not slip-on or lace-ups and gave handy hints for extra long loops on art overalls and top buttons of shirts. I ordered everything we needed and labelled it all diligently. I even reorganised Little Chap’s chest of drawers and wardrobe to make room for everything where he can reach it. Sorted.

Or so I thought…

In the meantime, I wasn’t too worried about Little Chap settling in to his new class, as he made a successful transition into the Nursery last year. He had such a positive, happy experience there and made so many friends, I didn’t expect this year to be any different.

However, last weekend there were a few tell-tale signs of anxiety. Having behaved well (for a four-year old boy!) on our family holiday last week, his behaviour deteriorated to Totally Maddening by Monday. Lots of answering back, using words he knows we don’t like, being cheeky, not listening and generally being over excitable. Probably sussed his opportunities to do so were slipping away (not that we encourage it at home any more than they do at school). He had also chewed his lip and made it sore. Not something he usually does. Then there was the question at bedtime…

“What does “Big” mean Mummy?”

Well, he’s known how to articulate differences in size for some time now, so this was an immediate tell! With some clarification, he told me he wanted to know what “Big School” meant, so I tried to reassure him that it was the same fun as Nursery, but with two nice new teachers (who he has already met), different uniform for Big Boys, school lunch instead of packed (hurrah I say!), a smart new school book bag and a bigger playground for him and his chums and lots more interesting stories from his teachers. He loves a good story.

That seemed to calm him down and I think I reassured him he wouldn’t be the only one feeling a bit unsure that things were a bit new and different. I said the new boys would find it harder as they hadn’t been to his Nursery. He told his grandparents yesterday that he’d “Show the new boys the ropes” so I relaxed a bit more. He really has nothing to worry about but first days affect us all one way or another.

It seems those “first day nerves” got to me too. Having been certain I’d got everything ready in good time, I happened to glance at the uniform list, next to the section “Your Son’s First Day”. I thought reading that together might further reduce any uncertainty he might feel. I noticed black plimsolls weren’t listed, (though they’d specifically been mentioned at the Parents’ Briefing, as verified by others present!) but black trainers were! They also required “black leather shoes” and on reviewing the “preferred” list of shoes stocked at a local shoe shop, I noticed his Clarks Stompos (same as he had last year but in a 10G now!) weren’t on it. Hmm…

I was not unduly worried. School wasn’t fanatical about the selection of shoe last year. As long as it didn’t have any gimmicky flashing lights and was from Clarks or Start-Rite and made of black leather, they weren’t fussed. I also assumed that trainers must be interchangeable with plimsolls, though I had been wondering what they would wear if they did PE outside. Last year they just wore their school shoes and nursery tracksuits – no PE kit, as they do now.

This obviously prayed on my mind, knowing that this is, after all “Big” School and the rules are less relaxed as the boys get older. So by the time I was at my desk (first day back, mountain of emails, you get the picture!), something made me consult the school website.

Both trainers and plimsolls were listed…

Cue my Last Minute Panic – Little Chap didn’t have trainers and I had no time left to get any!

Even if the local shoe shops hadn’t run out of stock post Back to School rush, I couldn’t leave my desk! The team were out all afternoon and someone (me!) had to be in to answer the door to couriers etc. Also I’d arranged with my boss that if I could come in an hour or so later today, due it being the first day of school, that I would make up the time working my lunch hours. *scream*

I felt truly crushed. I had failed Little Chap. All I had to do to ensure he had the best start to school was my job – i.e. make sure he had everything he needed on the day and he and his teachers would take care of the rest between them. I had well and truly messed this up. I only had one shot and I’d failed.

I quickly posted a “Help” message in our Mums’ and Dads’ Facebook group (a life saver at times like this!) and was met with various replies within minutes. Most mums, including those with boys further up the school, agreed that yes, their sons were kitted out with the required three pairs of shoes, trainers and plimsolls. But this was never going to be a case of “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” was it?

I quickly wondered if, now I’d named the Stompos, we could use them as trainers (they look jolly like them to me (!) and we all refer to them as such at home). So I went to Clarks’ website and found a pair of leather shoes that I thought I remembered seeing on the “recommended” list from school and sent poor old Mayfair Dad to Mothercare on Oxford Street from his Holborn office at lunchtime.

This was not before I’d poured my heart out to my mother, who was doing her usual Grannie Daycare and she (bless her) suggested she go out with Little Chap after lunch to find something suitable. I have to admit that tears choked me as I told her my sorry tale, as if by articulating my failure I had made it even worse than it already was. Now, if something goes wrong, I fix it. I’ve never been one to wallow in feeling sorry for myself. I’m more of a pick myself by my boot straps and get on with it kind of person but this was different. There was a touch of umbilical cord still attached somewhere and those maternal hormones rose to the surface and overwhelmed me completely.

Thanks to Mayfair Dad’s time and effort, (Grannie was let off the hook!) and the excellent next day Click and Collect service at John Lewis, we had school shoes this morning (which Little Chap then refused point blank to wear, saying they hurt his feet – which you could have predicted really!) and trainers to pick up from our local Waitrose tonight ready for his first games lesson tomorrow. Phew! When we got to school his teachers said they would only need a pair of shoes to practice changing their shoes today but that plimsolls weren’t needed after all, only trainers (*%£!). So the plimsolls would do fine for today as they wouldn’t be “used”.

Little Chap sailed in to his new classroom, happily finding his name on his peg, his tray and his water bottle, gave me a hug and a kiss and went off to “help” his new teacher. So all’s well that ends well and I just have to hope school communication improves as term progresses and find time to take a pair of shoes and plimsolls back to Clarks and John Lewis in the hope I get my money back… You might have to wait for those other posts a bit longer!

Do you have a little one starting school this week? How were your nerves?  Or do you need a last-minute pair of black leather boys school shoes/plimsolls yourself (size 10G/10)? In which case, £40 the lot, please drop me a line quickly!

3 thoughts on “Back to School Nerves or The Curse of the Working Mum

  1. Pingback: Back to School Nerves or The Curse of the Working Mum | Love All Blogs

  2. Pingback: Review | Christmas Gift Ideas from Tree Fu Tom | Mayfair Mum

  3. Pingback: A Positive Reception | Mayfair Mum

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