I have a sinusitis headache. Is that enough of an excuse not to have posted my blog this week? Is it enough of an excuse to just look at my kids and ask for a hot pack for my head. Those lovely beanie ones that you microwave. Is it enough of an excuse to have an argument with my husband about what is and what isn’t ‘fair’. And how those words ‘It’s not fair’ should not be part of my vocabulary in the first place – according to him. (I do see his reasoning.)

You see when push comes to shove. My search as a mother for meaning and wholeness becomes sorely tested when I’m under stress – physical/emotional etc. The look for wholeness, owning my dark and light sides have been under strain this week. When I look at myself it’s with an amused smile. Despite my very sore eyes that feel as if an aquarium is in my head and the sharks and dolphins are bursting to get out, I can smile.

The fact of the matter is I’m dealing with all these challenges a lot better. I am better equipped to ride the waves of imperfect mothering. What I’m really saying is that reflection, therapy and reading is worth it. Yes it’s a long journey but it helps when the going gets tough (Does sinusitis count as the going getting tough?) and I highly recommend it. (Although it can be overdone, and that leads to a bit of a self obsessive self involvement. Also not healthy.)

This blog is part of my journey and I’m learning a lot from it myself. As I hope you guys out there are too. I wrote this week about Grade 1.  I wanted to tell all future Grade One moms what to do – i.e. learn from my mistakes. (Anyone skipping the Grade 1 bit – scroll down to see Health update.)

Since I wrote the blog I have paid closer attention to how I am with my Grade One Prince. I took my own advice and it has made a difference. (Although he’s still calling me a ‘horrible mother’ every time I put my foot down.) And just so you all know that I do try practice what I preach (although it’s so, so easy to have the knowledge – doing it is another story.)

So the things I’ve done this week are:

– I’ve written a note and put it in his lunch (he read it very proudly – the beauty of the end of the year – they can read!).

– We made a snack list and stuck it on the fridge – and yes I went and bought the peanuts he wanted, and no I am as yet to send him to school with the hotdog and burger he ordered. (But I will do it.)

– I chatted with him after school and found a whole other way to do it. (Guessing! He guesses what I did that day – and I guess what he did – lots of giggly fun.)

Grade One Prep Ideas

So your child is going to grade 1. Congratulations you are now adding another 12 years to your school career which I’m sure you thought was long over. Those Matric nightmares will be returning soon. But lets not think about that there’s still Grade 1 to get through.

The truth about Grade 1 is that it’s a lovely year. Your child learns to read, do math and they grow into that little person who you can’t have an adult conversation with around without them joining in. They become serious about sport, have a team, play in tournaments (and if you have a princess I’m sure they become a little prima ballerina).It’s great. But there are some things a mum needs to know.

Here’s what I wish I knew:

  • Uniform – Get it ready the night before. It doesn’t always happen, the tie, the hat, the shoes.
  • Buy two of everything. Or be ready to replace. My Prince No. 1 has managed to lose his school shoes (found a week later, after I bought him a new pair – if you do buy a new pair, buy a bigger size so that they can wear in the next year. And no I don’t care if they walk around like ducks with too big shoes. They grow so fast – it’s a waste of money otherwise.)
  • Try and teach them responsibility. Give them their own shelf or hook to hang their clothes on. I still am not quite managing that – but I’m blaming the fact that we’re not at home because of renovations.
  • If you really struggle get the teacher to do a star chart for neatness. And praise, praise, praise when you get it right. (That’s where we are at the moment. Prince No. 1 now makes sure he’s neat in the morning as he aims for a 10/10 neatness mark.)
  • Become best friends with you diary. Library, tuck shop, tuck shop duty, different days finishing at different times, arrangements etc. etc. etc. and it can change at any moment. So you need to keep up to date at all times. Yes you are your child’s secretary. School is not about the kid being organised it’s about the mum, and if this isn’t your best quality – as with me – well, this is school there’s no choice.
  • Enjoy this year – what’s left of it – and take your nursery school kids to school when it suits you. In Grade 1 – it’s not about you any more and it won’t be for another 12 years. If you take a bit of time waking up as I do, you’ll be up at least at 6 in order to start your day off on the right foot. There’s nothing like a morning (which I had yesterday) of waking up at 7 and spending a frantic, blurry eyed half hour trying to get 3 sleepy Princes dressed, grazed and tooth brushed by 730am. It’s enough to ruin the whole day. Or okay to be honest it takes me at least an hour afterwards to recover from the shockingness of it.
  • Get organised with your afternoons. A new 30-40 minutes has to be slotted in to accommodate Homework. If your’re extremely lucky your school won’t give much or your kid will just spit up the answers so fast that you’re done in 10 minutes flat. If you aren’t so fortunate make space, make way for another mummy duty. Get Dad’s involved if possible.
  • Buy your uniform and stationary before you go away on holiday. And get the sticky tape and scissors out to cover all the books before you go away. (cover with your child. So that they appreciate what a wonderful mum they have.) Make next year that much easier for yourself.
  • Sit down with your child and write down the different lunches and snacks they would like. Stick the list in the kitchen. At the very least they won’t be able to accuse you of being a ‘horrible Mommy’ as my Prince No. 1 did yesterday (he is a vocal little chap) because he wanted pickles, and chips, and chips, and chips for snack. (We compromised he’ll get chips on a Friday. ‘All my friends get chips every day,’ he whined (no other way to put it). ‘Tough,’ I replied.)
  • Prepare snacks the night before. A no brainer I know – but you won’t believe how often I’m too tired so I don’t, only to bitterly regret it in the morning. (It is admittedly easier with live in help though.)
  • Do put smiley faces and notes in lunch boxes. Prince No. 1 loved it when I did that (haven’t done it in a while come to think about it.)
  • Make sure your child has free time to just play. Primary school can be so many hours. They may look all grown up in uniform but they’re still very small, little kids who NEED to have free, unstructured play to grow and develop. All psychologists are agreed on that point.
  • Get to know the teachers. They will be with your kids more in the day than you will. You want to know what’s happening with your child in class. Touch base so you can sort out any issues that may come up.
  • Communicate – Keep those talking zones open between you and your child. You want to know how they’re feeling. Asking ‘How was school today?’ doesn’t do it for a lot of kids, mine included. What I do is say, ‘I’m going to tell you about my morning and then you’ll tell me about yours.’ This works most days and if that doesn’t, I ask, ‘Can you tell me three things about your day today.’ Touching base takes effort but is well worth it.
  • Don’t bring your kid school to late on the first day. I did that. I was just too freaked out what can I say. He was fine. But it did mean he didn’t get the best seat in class. Naive me I though they’d have little name places on the little wooden tables. But no, it was first come first served like a restaurant. And all the parents stood outside the class room as their little, uniformed babies marched into class with fresh new back packs and wheelies. Fathers go along to. I think all the moral support possible is good, plus why should dad’s miss out this important milestone?

Which brings me to my next most important point – Get Help! Especially if you have other kids it can be overwhelming. Lift schemes, family help, Dad’s doing homework. Self preservation comes first. I wish the school system thought so too.

And whilst your children are in school – do your work, and all the things you need to but also take that time out for ‘you’. After all with all the hard Mummy work you do you deserve it!

Health Note Talia will be doing a cooking demonstration this Wednesday the 17th of November. She’ll be teaching how to make broth (soup) that can be used for other foods,  pickles and (why these fermented foods are so important – I’m curious). Cream cheese and Labne, hummus, chocolate mousse and date balls. So I’m going and can’t wait to eat – I mean learn. If you’re interested call or sms Talia for more details: 0716029780