My eldest child is starting school and I don’t like it

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In exactly one week today my eldest child is starting school. I keep having anxiety dreams about my son starting school.

Sometimes I’m at the school gate and he’s crying and I don’t want to leave him, sometimes it manifests in a different way and we are in an apocalypse or there are ‘bad guys’ trying to kidnap him.

However it manifests, I’m having a lot of nightmares and I’m just about wise enough to read between the lines – I’m really bloody anxious about him starting school.

I didn’t think much about my son starting school. It always felt so far away, until suddenly it wasn’t.

It just crept up on me over the years as they sped by. Then this summer, the ‘last summer’, its pretty much all I’ve been able to think about.

Before my eldest, I didn’t have much knowledge about kids and what they were like at each age (I still don’t past his age). I think I thought by time he got to school he would be much more grown up and capable. I didn’t expect him to still feel like my little baby.

My eldest is starting school and I don't like it

Parental anxiety about child starting school

Arlo is a December baby, he’s 4 and 3/4s so not the youngest in the class by any means, but he feels young to me. He seems a lot less mature than my niece who is 3 months his senior and is also starting school in September.

He’s on the 6th centile so I know 94% of kids his age are heavier/bigger than him. He’s smaller than the smallest size of school trousers which makes me a little sad.

He’s also very introverted and shy, very attached to his immediate family and hates being away from us. It’s a battle for us just to get him to play in a different room alone.

He clings to us for security when in new places and doesn’t deal with transitions or crowds of people well.

He can go to the toilet well but sometimes needs help wiping his bum after a particularly messy deuce. He can count well but needs help to write his name.

He still needs help dressing and undressing although I’m certain that’s because he can’t be arsed rather than he isn’t capable (the kid just thinks he’s meant to be in Downton Abbey or some shit with a chamber maid dressing and undressing him for the day. Fair play though, must be nice).

My biggest worry about him starting school is obviously how he is going to manage and adjust – will he like it? If he likes it then it’s going to be great.

If he doesn’t its going to be hard on the whole family (well not Lena, she doesn’t give two craps about anything that one).

Arlo has gone to nursery for over two years and still doesn’t like going and leaving us. He always tells me he wants to stay with me.

I’m dreading the first day. Our family moto is ‘no one cries alone’. we are very close and attached. I have zero tolerance for my kids crying and I strongly suspect that he will cry when I go to leave him.

The school folder I have been given just says to walk off if it happens and that’s going to kill me. I appreciate that lingering won’t help either though.

I worry he’s going to be too afraid to make himself heard and ask to go to the toilet etc – he does that at nursery too.

I’m worried the school might not manage his milk allergy properly. I’m worried he will pick up bad habits from other kids like all the other parents tell me to brace myself for.

My eldest is starting school and I don't like it

Then I’m anxious for myself, for the change. Will I be able to walk away and leave him if he cries on his first day/days? Will I just say screw this, and pull him and try home-school him if he struggles too much?

Practically, how will I find the two hours of walking I need to do each day in all weathers with my one year old who hates her stroller (by the way, I like the way stroller makes it sound so relaxing and not like you are frantically speed walking while bribing your baby with chocolate buttons to try and keep them in the damn thing). I might get fitter which would be good at least.

I worry how I will get on with his teachers – I’ve already told them I won’t be making him do homework unless he wants to – he’s there long enough and he’s 4! They must already have me earmarked as ‘one of those’.

I’m not looking forward to the loss of control. I know that’s going to be difficult to deal with. I worry how we will manage financially as with no family help nearby we need to use nursery wrap around care the days we both work costing us an additional £115 a month before we take into account any costumes or trips etc. I know it will work out though, it generally does.

Aside from my worries I just feel sad, sad that his baby days are ending and sad that my days with him are going to be significantly reduced.

I love him so much, not just as my kid but as my little pal. I love the time we spend together. He’s no bother at all and I’m going to miss him so much.

I’m going to miss all the amazing things he says to me over our days, his cute little ways and all the kisses and cuddles.

And of course the real issue of all of this is that this is the first big external step to him growing up. I can’t stop the march of time and him moving away from me and the thought of it is frightening.

I’m going to miss this little pre-schooler who will soon turn into a boy then a man. I wish it didn’t go so fast.

My eldest is starting school and I don't like it

I also feel guilty, why, I’m not sure – a big old ridiculous dose of the mam-guilt.

I think I feel guilty that I haven’t moved back to my home town where my family live. He doesn’t get to go to the Ofsted outstanding school that my niece will, where he will have the added security blanket of knowing his cousins and second cousins. He’s in a ‘worse’ catchment area where we are, than where he could have been if I had moved in time.

I feel very guilty that once or twice a week he will have to go to nursery wrap around care from 7.30am-6pm.

And worst of all now we are stuck to holidaying in non-term time – I just checked the prices – they are astronomical!!

I’m trying to focus on the benefits of it for me – I’ll get one on one time with my 18 month old. I can take her to playgroups and activities that are age appropriate instead of dragging her along to Arlo’s groups.

Lena won’t be woken from every nap by Arlo and I’ll get some peace at her nap times. They won’t be fighting over toys all day.

It’s a first step to me getting my own freedom back. Honestly though, these things seem inconsequential to my worry for his wellbeing.

My eldest is starting school and I don't like it

I partly wanted to write this post as a cathartic measure, to put my feelings on to paper so they weren’t taking up my head and heart space so much. I wanted to take stock for a minute as this is a huge change for our family.

But I also partly wrote this to reach out to other parents who may feel the same, hoping that I’m not alone in feeling like this.

I would love it if you would leave me a comment if you experienced/are experiencing this too? Are you a parent with older kids who has been through this and can give me tales from the other side?

I’m going to write a post at the end of his first week to let you know how it goes – here’s hoping its one of those situations where I feel silly for even worrying in the first place! You can now read that post here – Dear Diary the first days of primary school.

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20 thoughts on “My eldest child is starting school and I don’t like it”

  1. ah hun what you feeling is completely normal. I was really worried about Harry being the youngest boy in his class and also quite shy. I steeled myself on the first day to fake happy excited emotions so that he wouldn’t pick up on what I was feeling. He had the occasional loo accident (on the first day he couldn’t do the botton on his trousers fast enough bless him) but slowly he settled in thanks to a wonderful teacher. She was firm with us parents and looking back she needed to be. He is much more independent and confident now and can’t wait to get back! He will have a blast and the amount he will learn will astound you. Good luck to you all, embrace the change and cherish those hugs when he runs towards you at the end of the day x

    • Thanks so much Helen! I thought about that for his trousers, I’m only buying him buttonless ones this first year as he’s not great at it! When I cry on Facebook virtually hold me! I’m pleased to know it’s normal, I nearly didn’t post this incase I was being ridiculous!

      • One of the other great things about getting into school life is all the friends you will make. I’ve got some lovely friends from Harry’s school and the circle keeps growing we’ve had nights out and meet ups with the children and its a great support network. With the homework harry started bringing phonics home just before xmas we dont push it sometime he would just be too tired but other nights he would be keen and it just reinforces what they do during the day. Big hugs hun il be thinking of you x

        • Oh that’s nice to hear! Fingers crossed it will all go well – I’ll sharp find out! Thanks for reading and commenting, you’ve helped me feel a bit better! X

  2. It’s really tough isn’t it.

    I am with you about the homework – Jack didn’t do any homework at all in reception. I didn’t force it but the teachers were fine about it – I do think I’ve been benchmarked as ‘one of those’ parents though!

    Most reception classes have helpers – I hope Arlo attaches to one of those and they will get to know him and his signals for when he needs the loo ect…..

    In our reception class, kids mostly just take themselves to the loo and don’t even need to ask so try not to be too worried. The thing that freaked me out the most was school dinners – I still can’t imagine Jack (and even Heidi) asking for lunch and carrying their tray across the hall!!! The staff are used to it though and do help.

    Why don’t you think about applying to be a school governor? You really get to know the school well, their systems and the staff. I would honestly recommend it and it has helped me a huge deal. It also makes you feel like you actually have a say in school policy and how the school runs (parent governors are the most important).

    Sometimes I pick Jack up and his clothes are on back to front after PE – try to just look at it in the grand scheme of things – it’s not a big deal and the teachers aren’t going to let the kids run around naked so will help when needed.

    Ahhhhhh it is SUCH a change! I have my fingers crossed there are no tears from you or Arlo. It is true though, if he does cry, he will stop within minutes and if he really is distressed, the school will phone you. When you head into school for their first open afternoon/coffee morning/christmas play I bet you are presented with lots of photographs of Arlo having an amazing time with his new buddies (which he won’t have told you about – they never do). Also there is usually a parent’s evening in the first term so use this as a chance to really talk about any issues.

    Good luck xxxx

    • This comment has helped make me feel much better, thanks so much for taking the time to write it. Great suggestion about applying to be school governor, I’m going to look straight into that! Xx

  3. I went through everhthing you’ve wrote down nyomi it’s pretty tough. And this summer I’ve lived everyday knowing that now my second baby is growing up. Monday and Tuesday mornings Theo will be in nursery which doesn’t sound much but it’s huge for me and him. Niamhs pretty chuffed as she’ll get to see him which makes it easier but it’s the thought of for those few hours a day someone else being responsible for your child, and it’s hard when there’s so many children to teachers! Niamh was much like Arlo, even now in swimming class she struggles to speak up when she needs the toilet but she’s so proud when she does. I guess I try to remember my school years and yes there was tough moments but the growth and self esteem that I grew was wonderful! I still don’t like school, I would much rather have my children home with me but I’d be doing the wrong thing for them. Meeting other children and learning from them is all niamh wants to do now, so holidays are tiring when everyday pretty much we have to organise playdates with school friends ha! Good luck on the first day im sure everything will be great but I suppose my advice is to follow arlos lead and try not to cry ha! I was and no doubt will be come September 5th a quivering wreck but the thought of cuddles when I pick them up (and wine once they’re in bed at night) will keep me strong! X x x x

    • Thanks for your comment Joanna, it really helps to hear from other more experienced mams and to know I’m not alone. Great advice, I’ll take it on board. Good luck to you too!! X

  4. I’m so glad to read this. Describes how I feel. My son has a January birthday but to me still seems so young although he’s in age 6 clothing. He’s excited to go to school and learn to read. I’ve been told not to cry because he always comes home again. My 2 year old is going to miss him lots. I’ve always known they’d go to school but never thought it would be this hard.

  5. Hugs dear friend, you’re most definitely not alone! I have another year, even though Noah so 1.5 weeks younger than Arlo. He’s also a peanut (weighs 32.5# and is 2.5# lighter than Ziva!!!). He’s shy and I feel like he and school won’t be a good match, it’s one of the biggest reasons I want to homeschool. Since I have a little more time I’m not starting to panic yet, but I feel like you and your blog post made me tear up. Hugs again!!!!

  6. Totally normal Ny & I felt & still feel the same over James! He’s a 9th centile, tiny in his class & in aged 5 uniform at almost 7. He’s about to start year 2. I’m still terrified to this day he will be stolen over the schol fence that backs onto houses (the gates/doors are locked) – I’m gutted he’s left his teacher from last year that I absolutely adored! We just clicked & she was great with James. They were sarcastic with each other & it worked! He’s lefthanded & has struggled with his writing, one reason being he was to small for the chairs! She was brilliant with him & did so much research to help him. I told her I wanted her to be his teacher every year, we hugged & cried on the last day of term – I’m sure you’ll have no issues with the teachers. When you see Arlo happy with new friends & thriving & drinking in the knowledge, it will make it easier. I miss James every day he is at school but you adapt & get used to it – you have to! I’ll be breaking my heart dropping him off on Monday, but he loves it xx

  7. A lovely post. I’m sure you’re not the only mum to have felt all of this. Rest assured, schools are well up on food allergies, so they should be able to cater fairly easily for a dairy free diet. N also does wrap around care – his school do morning club from 8, but they don’t do after school care (just clubs that finish at 4ish), so he usually goes to after school club at his old nursery. along with a number of others. Not sure how long he’ll want to go there, but I do think that kids who’ve done nursery before do just get on with moving up and settling in.

    Thanks for linking up to #schooldays

    Oh and gorgeous photo of the 4 of you

  8. Thankyou for writing this, it’s like you’ve summed up all my feelings this week that I never had given thought to before this time arrived and they’ve hit me like a ton of bricks! My eldest too has started school and even though he’s attended nursery 2 days and preschool nursery 3 hour mornings, it’s the first time he’s been away from me fully and for really long days in my perspective. I’ve ached and missed him like crazy, even though I feel grateful for being able to pick him up at finish time three times a week, I hate the thought of only having him fully at weekends and holidays and feel upset almost that he’s too young to be away for full days five days a week in an educational setting. I know he’ll thrive and loves being with friends and loves learning so it is only for selfish reasons I just miss my gorgeous boy and the conversations we have. He and his two year old sister often drive me potty and it can be very tiring running after them all the time but It’s been so strange him not being around with us for lunch or little trips out. Our little art class we went to in the afternoon’s theme was space and I felt sad he wasn’t there knowing he would have loved that one and making rockets and space pictures.. And someone said they are now in the ‘system’ and even that term set me off! Like yourself I feel grateful I’ll be able to give my daughter some special one to one time, and it made me laugh your comments on the stroller as it describes us to a tee as she often doesn’t want to go in and I magically found some buttons this week in my bag and bribed her to stop shrieking like a banshee when I put her in it but then felt horrified as I pushed her through the school yard with this chocolate thinking what will all the other mothers think! So again thankyou for summing up exactly what we too have gone through, it is comforting to read that I’m not the only mad mum going through this emotional upheaval and hope it gets easier for you all too! I’m sure it will for all of us, and how amazing to feel such love!! Xx

  9. We’re just approaching school now! I’m less anxious but still a little. And I’m also going to be one of ‘those’ parents when it comes to homework! I make you 100% right, it’s crazy!


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