Kids Started School and I’m Fine. Totally fine.
I’ve shared a delicious pumpkin soup with ginger and basmati rice on the blog today. And now I’m testing out a new thing. I’m trying to streamline recipe posts a bit to keep to recipe-relevant details, and I’m saying a proper hello in a separate post. That way you don’t have to suffer through my tonsil-flapping if you’re just here to figure out dinner.
So can we have some coffee over here and catch up? Ok, because I’m just gonna dive right in.
NOBODY TOLD ME how insane it is for your kids to start school.
Little one started preschool, big one started kindergarten this September. I thought ok, school. We got this. No sweat. But it has been super overwhelming. And that’s an understatement. It has knocked. me. down.
Entering the school system for the first time, turns out, is not a small deal (for an overthinker). The self-imposed pressure of trying to be a great mom and make a great impression on everyone from the teachers and principal to the secretary and other parents really takes a toll on the nerves. For the first six weeks, I was entering the school feeling wobbly-legged nervous like I was standing on the high dive.
The nerves have been amplified perhaps by the fact that we’re the new family in the neighbourhood. Despite being a really social person, I skew toward introversion.
For the first month, the daily group pick-up scenario felt a bit like a party you go to where you don’t know anyone and you didn’t bring a date and everyone else is already chatting and then you promptly forget what you’re supposed to do with your hands.
Once in the first week of school, I saw the packed playground and thought I was gonna actually faint. It’s such a hilarious, exhausting struggle.
And it has hit me that once the kids aren’t in preschool anymore, you are no longer running the show.
You can’t just keep them home when you feel like it.
You can’t easily just try another program if you aren’t loving the one you’re in.
You are no longer in control of their experiences or their friends. Your kid is being judged and moulded by external forces that will shape his future.
Panic slowly sets in.
Then add to that the mental and time demands.
Just trying to remember all the paperwork, dates, and details of their school calendar feels like a full-time job. Thursday he needs gym clothes, Friday he needs to switch library books, Wednesday he needs cutlery for hot lunch, Tuesday he has a play-date.
This week, parent volunteers are needed for this or that (I should do it, right? I don’t want to be the uninvolved mom). Thursday is a bake sale, Friday is a food drive, next week some fee is due.
Thursday is a half-day for teacher training. Friday is a professional development day (no classes). Monday is a non-instructional day (also no classes). (Side question: what do normal-job working parents do with their kids when school is always closing??)
Next Tuesday is the book fair, send cash. This afternoon there’s a 1 pm assembly and parents are going. Tomorrow (or is it the day after?) they’re supposed to wear school colours.
Multiply that by two for two kids.
Little one’s program ends at noon and is only three days per week. I drop them both off, go for a jog, come back and clean up from making breakfast and prepping lunchboxes, and I have maybe two hours to power through my most urgent tasks.
Then I pick up little one, wrestle him down for a quick nap, sit back down at my desk to inhale a third coffee (coffee’s good for nerves, right?) and try to remember what I was supposed to be doing, and it’s time to wake up little one and go get his big brother.
I love my creative, self-concocted career. But suddenly I have 6 hours per week to do 30 hours worth of work. (There’s a lot of administration and side hustle that you never see.) I feel like I’m trying to be a full-time mom and run an almost-full-time business at the same time.
SO my fridge, office, and foyer are littered with taped-up weekly work/school/childcare/family calendars and to-do lists. I might just start writing directly on the walls.
It feels right.
I’ve had weird shooting pains and cramps and twitches all over my body that are apparently physical symptoms of anxiety. SERIOUSLY. I’m twitching.
To wrap this up.
I have been falling apart a bit at the seams this fall. I’m essentially trying to pat my head and rub my belly while simultaneously wiping someone’s bum and trying to say intelligent things in an email. And usually, there’s a woodpecker pecking my forehead (5-year-old) and a spazzy cat attacking my leg (3-year-old). As I’m typing this, my palms are sweating and my body is shaking like a leaf. Like my Irish Setter whenever the pressure cooker is on. Batshiz cray. (Except my Setter stress-drools. I haven’t started that. Yet.)
I am not writing to complain (because I know these are good, first-world problems to have) but because I know others must be feeling this way, too. And I want you to know that if you’re anywhere on the spectrum from overwhelmed and a bit anxious to truly not okay, you’re not alone either.
We can bumble through this together and try to figure out what self-care looks like in our respective situations.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or a full-time-job mom or a self-employed-hustling mom, it can all be tough. The grass is not greener in someone else’s garden. We need to stick together and figure out how to take care of each other and ourselves.
I know for me, selectively saying no to things and getting more childcare on a regular schedule are two things I need to accomplish without delay. I think I need some yoga back in my life, too.
Anyway, sending my love out to all the other mamas out there. Kids are alive? Kinda fed? At least partially clothed? We’re fine. Totally fine.