Our surprising and emotional first day back to school

back to school

 

Here I sit in silence.

For the first time in weeks.

With a whole range of emotions bubbling around inside of me.

Worry.

Relief.

Guilt.

Gratitude.

Disappointment.

Freedom.

I have just got back from dropping the kids off at their first day back to school.

A new school.

This wasn’t in our travel plan but last week I made a call to the local school and found out how easy it was to enrol them in the local school for a term.

What led me to that phone call?

The last 2 weeks have been challenging to say the least. We have been settling into a new town, hubby has picked up some work and I got a headstart on homeschooling.

It didn’t go so well.

I hadn’t put much preperation into the schooling other than looking through the books to make sure I understood what needed to be done.

We were keeping the schooling fairly light. Just focusing on Maths and English (the rest could be learnt in real life on the road). So we would head off to the outdoor camp kitchen and get into it. I was thinking an hour (2 at most) would do it and we would have the rest of the day to explore and play.

Well, it was 2 hours of torture most days. One of the kids would be into it and the other not into it at all! There were dummy spits when something wasn’t understood, storming off when it got too much and me running in between the two of them explaining what they needed to do next. Miss 5 hated the Maths part and Mr 8 hated the English part. So we begrudgingly got through it most days.

On top of the schooling, there is the caravan life, where everything that needs to be done is harder than at home.

Our clothes are all kept in zip-up bags in a single wardrobe. I don’t think I need to say any more about the hassle of getting dressed and resulting mess that is left after each search for a jumper, socks etc.

The dishes need to be washed, dried and put away after every meal.

Every time you need something it is not where it is supposed to be and a 20-minute search ensues.

You need a key every time you need to go to the toilet ( the kids couldn’t work the key so I had to take each of them when they needed to go.)

I don’t want you to think I am a whining, ungrateful something or other, I am just trying to give you a picture of what it has been like.

Basically, I felt like I had babies again! So many of the things the kids could do on their own at home they now need me for again! I didn’t have a minute to myself – goodbye exercise routine and self care!

Oh and I am trying to run an online business too!

So hubby would get home from work and I would need to escape for a few hours to get some work done while he spent time with the kids, struggling through the evening stuff to get done after a physical day at work.

So I called the school.

The kids were devastated. Until I mentioned the school has a canteen! (Their school at home doesn’t!)

That was a game changer for them. A canteen!

We had a look at the school and the kids became more excited. A place you could borrow sports equipment at lunch time, an amazing music and art room. A huge oval and playground.

So we enrolled them for a term.

What a massive relief! They could go to school, I could have the school hours to work, get dinner organised, do the shopping etc and we could bring back some quality time in the afternoons and evenings to have fun.

It all makes complete logical sense but this morning I woke with a knot in my tummy.

Does this mean I have failed at homeschooling?

Is this the right decision?

Will they be OK?

I was particularly worried about Miss 5 who has been having a hard time since we left home 6 weeks ago. Will this make her worse? Or could the routine be good for her?

Seeing their unsure expressions on their little faces as we walked into their classrooms was heart wrenching but everyone was welcoming and there are plenty of other new kids that they got introduced to.

So we will see.

It’s part of being a mum isn’t it.

Making decisions for our children.

Not knowing if they will work out.

Hoping we are doing what is best for them.

But we can’t forget we need to do what is best for us too.

I know I will be a much more patient, kind and fun mum if I can have a little space.

I know that me having some space will benefit my children, my husband and us as a family.

and my big wish for today is that I will pick the kids up from school this afternoon and they will be happy.

How are you feeling about the kids being back at school? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

back to school

 

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19 Comments

  1. Alanna on February 1, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Back to school is a whole different story for me (a mum to be) a dedicated teacher! As parents warily wave goodbye in the morning and then see their child run to their friend in the class the smile on the parents face is evident and it reads- me time/job time/space! But with that wave you give, I say hello for the day. I love having each and everyone of them for the day and am thrilled to see them all tomorrow and days to come. Reading your honest and open post about the difficulty of home teaching touches me as sometimes our job of ‘baby sitting’ can be undervalued. I love what I do and I think that is the major difference, when you love what you do you spend each moment making sure you’re prepared, every hiccup is an exciting challenge to overcome together and I thrive on our new classroom adventure everyday. As you all do in your career.
    I genuinely hope miss 5 and mr 8 had a great first day and that their teacher helped you have some space and “me time” to do what you love.

    • energeticblog on February 2, 2016 at 1:27 am

      Alanna I admire you teachers so much, it is such a challenging (and I am sure rewarding) job that you are dedicated too! They did have a good day and I sat on my laptop for most of the day catching up on work 🙂

      • Kelly on February 2, 2016 at 2:46 am

        Thanks for being an awesome enthusiastic teacher Alannah and all the best with your new arrival

  2. deanna on February 1, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Good luck jess, my fingers are crossed for you. Macy started Kindy today and she didn’t want to come home so that was a good sign

    • energeticblog on February 2, 2016 at 1:25 am

      That is a good sign Deanna, glad it went well. My 2 munchkins were happy when I picked them up and we had such a nice afternoon so that is a good sign too x

  3. Danielle on February 1, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    You are an awesome mum Jess, you always have been. I’m sure the kids will be fine and you are right you do need time out for yourself too! Just remember you are only human and as much as we all want to be super human sometimes ‘s it’s just too much! Thinking of you all xx

    • energeticblog on February 2, 2016 at 1:24 am

      Aw thanks so much Dan, that means a lot x

  4. Kelly on February 2, 2016 at 2:45 am

    Thanks for sharing your story and good on you for being flexible and thinking laterally, I’m sure it will be a memorable term for them for a long time to come.

    • energeticblog on February 2, 2016 at 2:59 am

      I hope so Kelly, thanks for your support x

  5. Emily Mir on February 2, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I have goosebumps from reading your honest account of your family travels, Jess.
    Thank you for being so honest about the highs and lows. Who could ever predict how many challenges – emotional, physical, mental, all-encompassing – two adorable little humans could create for us, their loving mothers (and fathers!). Pete and I continue to ride the roller-coaster of raising our fraternal twins. Just when I think I’m getting into the groove, they throw me a curve ball. I see Pete struggling at times and my heart breaks a little for him, as I want us all to enjoy this family life. There is so much love mixed in with the stress though and that gets you through.
    I love the way you thought laterally and stayed open to unexpected solutions. It’s admirable. All the best for Term 1.
    (Hattie and Flynn start at Montessori in McLaren Vale tomorrow for their first day, so I’m nervous too – they loved the staff so much at their childcare so this is a big change, but hopefully worth it to be closer to home . . ) xx

    • energeticblog on February 2, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Hi Emily thank you, they have taken it in their stride and we are all much happier already! Oh what a BIG day for you all tomorrow, big love to you. It’s like reliving all those childhood nerves again with them isn’t it xx

  6. Wendy on February 2, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    We went on a six week camping trip to outback Australia in 2014 with our boys then 8, 10 and 12 and we took the middle six weeks out of term 3 as the weather would be best for travelling there. My plan was to go the boys to do a journal each day about our travels, including a picture, and we took them into school when we returned. This was a struggle especially with the older two. They were in holiday mode and I was so busy with camping duties (tent and travelling most days). We really had to push it and the quality of the eldest journal was fairly basic. We did a few times tables while driving. That was enough for me. My youngest also sent emails to his class, he typed them on the iPad. They learned so much from just experiencing Australia and all the wonderful things we saw. We got them to journal while sitting around the camp fire or a bit when driving. I love having a look at them. On a similar four week trip in 2012 they did mostly drawing journals as they were younger)these were fun too. I would not like to do more schooling than this, I don’t have the patience:)

    • energeticblog on February 3, 2016 at 2:16 am

      I hear you Wendy. Getting the kids to write in their travel journals on this trip is somewhat challenging. I have even resorted to them telling me what they want to write some weeks, just so we can get something down. We did travel journals on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago and they are so precious to look back on 🙂

  7. Laura Trotta on February 2, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Oh Jess – I totally admire you for sharing your experience and also for staying true to you and your needs. Your family won’t be happy if you’re not happy so well done for taking steps to make sure you stay strong. Good luck as you continue to adjust to life in the ‘van’. You’re amazing xx

    • energeticblog on February 3, 2016 at 2:17 am

      Thanks Laura this week has been so much better already 🙂

  8. Tracy on February 3, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Oh bless you Jess. There is no right answer – being honest with yourself about what’s right for you and your family is the best thing you can do. And that’s certainly what you’re doing. Thank you so much for your honesty. I am sure they’ll love it. It’s a novelty and a canteen is awesome (ha ha! Simple joys of being a kid!)

    I’m home at the moment with a two year old with a cold, and I have a cold and my husband is away on business for the next 8 days and I work and trying to start a blog – I know how overwhelming it can be. Not complaining either but sometimes you just need space. I needed the TV this afternoon after my little guy napped for 3 hours…..on me. I feel guilty encouraging screen time but just needed a little space. Excited to follow your adventures – we’d love to do something like that one day soon 🙂

    • energeticblog on February 3, 2016 at 2:18 am

      Aw Tracy we just do the best we can don’t we! I hope you feel better soon. Some TV on the couch while cuddling your little guy sounds like bliss x

  9. Jude on July 17, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I loved your post. We used to be a homeschooling family. We loved many aspects of homeschooling especially all the hands-on learning, the time together, the outings and the stories. I understand some of the big challenges too – not the caravan bit other than a 4 day stint where I pretty much gave up on the bookwork because of the the holiday type mentality. The children have asked to do home based learning again and I would Iove to do it again too. My ideal would be part-time schooling (for me to organise stuff, shop, errands, me-time) and heaps of family-based learning and hands-on activities. Enrolling the kids in school was a decision based on the fact that in our state there were only 2 options which were full-time homeschooling or full-time school-based education. Now the children are all at school I have become more out of touch with them. They do a few extra-curricular activities such as sport and music so they have busy term-time schedules. So I now have the less interesting (in my view) roles of organiser, lunchbox packer, counsellor, taxidriver, chef, cleaner, household chores coach, wardrobe manager, laundry maid and general support on hand. The house is cleaner and I do have the privilege of being able to pursue more of my own interests now but I feel that the full potential of parenting and the closeness of the mother-child relationship is weakened by so much institution-based time. I don’t know my kids as well as I used to. I do have a pretty close relationship with the children because of the early years foundation. I hope your post doesn’t put people off homeschooling! For those who would love to homeschool I would suggest to try to “do what works” for them. Read up on homeschooling and talk to others who have done it or are doing it and don’t try and mimic school classroom style learning at home (or in the caravan – even harder!). Our children are above expected or well above expected achievement for the majority of their subjects at school and started school at age 6 1/2 or 7 1/2. Also some of our friends who tried homeschooling / caravanning found the combination much more challenging than being based in a house!! Jess, I think its great that you gave it a go and were flexible enough to make changes to make things work for your family. I hope you had some more relaxed and really fun times after school. Your children’s education must have been really enhanced by your trip and also getting to know so many new kids – what a great learning experience!

    • energeticblog on July 18, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Thanks for your comment Jude. We went on to do homeschooling for the rest of the year and it got much easier as time went on. I completely agree with the improved connection with your kids. Mine are back at school now and I really feel that separation too.

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