School Struggles

I was lulled into a false sense of security when Ollie started school. For the first couple of weeks he skipped into school with a bright smile on his face, telling me to leave when I was hovering anxiously to make sure he was alright.

And I smiled to myself, looking forward to a bright future of days with hot cups of tea and time to read and blog.

But, after the novelty of going to school had passed, things began to go downhill. Fast.

It seems like hardly a week goes by when Ollie doesn't refuse to walk into school with his friends.

We arrive in the playground and he hurries to stand at the front of the line. Depending on his mood, he might interact with his school friends and teachers, but he doesn't like me to go far. Then the whistle goes and he just refuses to walk into class. He won't go in holding his teachers hand, he won't walk in. He says he just wants to go home and be with Mummy.

I expected a period of adjustment after Ollie starting school, but the truth is, after the brief success it has felt like both he and I are struggling with the changes. On the days he cries and refuses to line up and walk in with his class mates, I'll pick him up and carry him, struggling and flailing, into his classroom where I have to put him down and nearly run out of the door, closing it behind me to stop him from running after me.

And I get home and I cry. Because as much as he doesn't want to be in school, I really miss him when he's away.

I'm still not used to having all the time to myself during the day, and I've been feeling down, depressed, lacking motivation and missing the structure of a stricter working routine. I crave the peace and quiet when the children are here and yet it feels so oppressive when they are gone. I feel like I'm worth little more than a housekeeper who shepherds the children to and from school, like I don't have a purpose beyond that.

My only routine or sense of passing time is the school run.

And one of the hardest things is, as soon as I pick Ollie up he's tired and throwing tantrums, stroppy and headstrong and I feel my own temper fraying around the edges.

Having two children leaving school, hungry and overexcited, tired and sensitive, is ridiculously harder than I thought it would be. I miss them so much when they're not around that I can't wait to meet them and give them a hug, always one of the first parents at the school gate, wondering what how their day has gone.

Only to walk home ten minutes later, feeling stressed and pressured, wondering what on earth I'm doing wrong as Ollie screeches at me for not letting him have a biscuit, or Lily stomps her feet and shouts with her friends over something small and petty. We get home and the demands hit me at once, food, drink, television, toys, dinner, reading, bathtime, teeth, pyjamas, stories and bed.

I live for the moments I spend with my kids and so, no matter how natural it is for them to be tired and demanding, it can feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth. Like I'm doing something wrong.

I feel lost.

It's hard to explain, but it's like I'm not myself in any situation. I would say that I was robotic or that I was on autopilot except that I'm overflowing with thoughts and feelings instead of walking around like a zombie.

Does that make sense?

I think I'm struggling with Ollie starting school just as much as he is. Maybe his behaviour is even my fault because he's picked up on my feelings? I have no idea.

Who am I now that I'm not the Mummy of a pre-schooler? What do I do when my children aren't home but I can't work because I need to be around for them? (Don't get me started on childcare).

I just want to find myself again before this depression sucks me in even further. I want to have some purpose to my day, a focus for me during the day when the children at school that will keep me to a structure and make me feel like more than a maid. And a pretty rubbish maid at that. Whoops.

In the meantime, I'm clearing the weekends for Ollie and I. I want to spend that bit more time with him. Indeed, I want to spend a bit more quality time with both him and Lily, whilst also trying to leave some precious space for myself, maybe to nap or something... I want to be me, Stephanie Kirsch, happy mummy of two happy school children. Am I asking for too much?

*And, lastly, I'm not moaning. Nor do I want to make out that everything is bad. It's far from it. I know that most of the time my kids are both lovely and I'm an immensely proud Mum. I guess it's just hard to face these school struggles and the adjustment is taking longer for all of us than I would have thought.*
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