This time of year really can be an anxious time for parents and children returning to school. For my little family, this year is another first for us. Suddenly we find ourselves knee deep in the first year of primary school with our daughter. She is now in Prep. The last six months I have asked myself (almost daily) if she is ready, but the truth is, deep down I know she is definitely ready and thriving. She is the type of kid that needs to be kept busy and mentally stimulated, BUT the real question is, “was I ready”?
It is true what every friend and family member said when we first held our newborn baby “treasure this time as it really does go fast”. How fast? I couldn’t even imagine.
I have had so many friends ask me how I am doing, sending our baby off to school, and of course my first instinct is to say “absolutely fine” because I thought I was, but truth be told, a cloud of stress and anxiety has been looming and it wasn’t until a finally stopped and sat with it, I realised why.
Not only has this time been a change for my daughter – new school, new teachers, new routine, new friends; it has also been a massive time of change for me.
Although we are the ones that try to be brave for our little ones, it is also ok to be a little uneasy about the change. I’m currently navigating the loss of her kindy friends and the support of the beautiful educators and parents we got to know over the last three years, it’s a new routine, new rules, new things to remember, uniforms, swimming bags, library bags, show n tell and packing lunch boxes (and homework hasn’t even started yet). Can she escape out the school gate? Will she drink enough water? Can she even fill her water bottle on her own? Will she get bullied? Will she listen to her teacher? Will she find the toilet on her own? So many doubts, questions and worries running through my head.
Not only have we had these changes related to school, but late last year I also decided to start working from home full time so I could be there for all the drop offs and pick-ups. My working life has again changed and I am faced with the exciting (and somewhat terrifying) task of running and growing my own business again.
All of these thoughts got me thinking about how many changes us as parents go through in this amazing journey of parenthood. It is not only the kids that grow and adapt, but us as well.
If you told me five years ago, when I was in a stressful full time Destination Marketing job, that I would actually quit that job to consult and take unsecure casual projects I would have laughed; I loved security and was so risk averse. I was so determined that the position I had carved over four years, could be jumped straight back into after maternity leave, but something changed.
The truth is pregnancy was preparing me for the biggest metamorphosis ever. For 9 months or more you do everything in your power to ensure you have a healthy baby – you eat the right things, you read about calm birthing techniques, you exercise and take your vitamins and you slow down and listen to your body. When the baby comes along you learn about all the feeding and sleeping techniques, first foods, educational toys and everything to ensure they grow, develop and learn. You put their needs first, thoroughly assessing how that dinner date or late afternoon workout will impact getting them to bed on time. It really is a huge minefield of change. It is no wonder when the time comes to send them off to school, we worry and feel like a little piece of us is missing!
Parenthood can be a catalyst for change. Sometimes you may change your working conditions or even quit your job to raise your family, you might even find yourself with a new group of friends. The things the littlest members of our family can teach us and aid our growth in, even before they can talk, is pretty amazing! I guess the main point is if I compared my life now to five or 6 years ago there are some big changes. Yes, change can be scary and anxiety triggering, but if my past has taught me anything, it’s that it is also an opportunity for growth; so I am going to start seeing it more as positive and teach my daughter the same thing.
So here’s to a new work life balance, not a loss of a career; meeting new people, not losing old friends; a new livelihood, not the sacrifice of my lifestyle. An opportunity for personal growth whilst navigating the best and most challenging job in the world, being a parent!
So this is for every parent out there, who’s feeling a little uneasy about all this change. You've got this! As you send your little ones off to a new school year or daycare or kindy for the first time, grab the change by the horns and enjoy this time of growth. There is no formula to navigate it and no two parenting journeys are identical, but that doesn’t mean either of them are right or wrong. You know your little human far better than anyone else, so you just do you. It’s worked for you before right?