The Big School post.


So we’re well into the first term and I still find my heart spasm-ing, constricting, palpating and all those other words that mean you are not coping very well with the whole thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Big School is going well for the kid. In fact, I had my first one-on-one with Mrs V yesterday and she is well impressed with our boy. She says he has settled well, that he works beautifully, that he is the best reader in the class, and that he interacts and plays cheerfully with everyone. There was that bit about how he can be very demanding of her attention and how he wants her all to himself,  and how he is quite noisy, but let’s overlook that little part, shall we?

The person who isn’t coping well with Big School is me. For a variety of reasons… to name a few:

The calendar. 

Oh the calendar. He has something different on everyday except a Wednesday. This means that we have to remember to pack a different item (clothes, gadget, book, equipment) in his bag everyday. And by “we” I actually mean “ME” because this 6 year old  remembers NOTHING. It also means I have to remember a different pick up time for almost four days of the week. I have to write EVERYTHING down or else I forget. Then there’s something for Show and Tell that needs to be remembered once a week, reading that needs to be checked and signed everyday, tuck shop money on the last Friday of every month, library books that need to be returned or else we incur a fine and a million other little things that crop up that we need to deal with. I loved our pre school because they made it really easy for the parents. In fact, I’ve come to realise they made it too easy for us. I didn’t have to do anything, other than drop and fetch the kids. No lunch, no extra murals outside of school hours, no show and tell, no fundraising, no nothing. It was awesome. Big School on the other hand is all about being independent and responsible and getting yourself together. You don’t have your school hat, then fine you can’t play outside today. You don’t have your library book, then fine you have to pay AND you don’t get to take another book out until you return the old one. Your mother hasn’t signed your homework book, then fine you get a de-merit. Guys, it’s HARD out there for a kid!

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The scary calendar

Pre school teachers versus Big School teachers. 

This has been by far the most difficult challenge for me. I am the mom who hangs around at drop off, I want to engage with you and ask you what you had for dinner and ask you what your weekend plans are and tell you the hilarious thing that my kid did last night. That’s me, and our lovely little pre school encouraged this. I was never made to feel like it was not OK to hold up the whole morning with my chin-wagging. I felt in control because I knew EVERYTHING that was going on with my child, I had a heart to heart with the teacher about EVERYTHING at ANY time. Woah. Big School. You are not encouraged to hang around, talk to the teacher at drop off or pick up, cross examine the teacher about last night’s homework or make small talk. It’s a big no-no. If you need to speak to the teacher, you make an appointment or you write it in the message book. You cannot hold up Big School with your chin-wagging. Everyone has something to do, including your child, there is no time to shoot the breeze in Big School, no sireeeee. Mrs V is lovely, I adore her, she is perfect for Liam and he loves her too, but man I feel so out of control. I feel like I don’t know what is going on. Relying on my 6 year old for information is making me twitch. Because his version of the school day events goes something like this: we played, we did some work, I must bring something for show and tell, I had water melon for snack. I can take my soccer ball to school tomorrow. OK, can I go and play now?

I’m like HUH? I need MORE than that, give me MORE!!

I chatted with Mrs V about this in our meeting last night and she laughed… she said that if anything was the matter, I would definitely know about it. She said this was a normal reaction from all the virgin Big School moms and that she encourages moms to keep the channel of communication open… just via the message book. Ha!

So. As if I don’t have enough going on, I signed up for Class Mom. Guys, my OCD would not allow me to just let this one slide. I feel like it would give me a bit more control over what is going on with school. I wrote a long essay in the message book asking various questions about the position and the requirement and with that knowledge, I applied for the job. Ha. The Job. Class Mom of the Year.

As for that message book, they don’t know me, they don’t know I can write pages and pages of words, they don’t know how it crushes my spirit to get a simple “OK!” and smiley face back in return when I have poured out my heart on those pages. That’s MY message book, not Liam’s. I even covered it nicely in paper and plastic wrap.  Oh, the hurt!

Transport woes. 

Currently, I do two school drop-offs. Liam first, then Hannah. Then at lunch time, I fetch Liam and I drop him at Hannah’s school for after care. Then I go back to work and fetch them both on my way home. It is quite exhausting, even though all this is within a 5km radius. So we’re looking at putting him into his  own school’s aftercare even though it costs almost double than the aftercare at Hannah’s school, but let’s be honest… playing chauffeur was tough even for Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy, I don’t know how long I can keep this up. So we’re trying and testing all sorts of scenarios to see what will eventually be the best plan for our family.

All in all, I still LOVE our school. I am so happy with our decision to send him there and despite all the challenges, I am happy to keep making the sacrifices that need to be made in order to keep him (and eventually Hannah) there. I can’t believe I have a kid in Big School. I can’t believe I have a kid who just gets left at the gate and makes his own way to the classroom all the way on the top floor – this makes me shake all over, but some days he insists, sighhh.

Nothing quite prepares you for Big School!

Going to the movies. Books. Other stuff.


Firstly, I must tell you about Paddington. I am not one to review movies and books and the like, but this was a special one.

I love Paddington because I’ve known him since I was the age my children are now. But more so, Liam brought Paddington home from the library two weeks ago and we started to read all about the bear from Darkest Peru, so it was great to see the book brought to life. Also, the movie was a really good adaptation of the book (give or take) so the fact that the kids could preempt certain scenes was sort of cool. Well, not for the other people in the cinema, who had to put up with the live narration from the second row. And when there was a scene that didn’t feature in the book, it raised lots of loud questions which I had to answer, of course. All in all, I’d give this movie a 9/10.  I think Paddington and the Brown’s were perfectly portrayed. I will record this movie when it comes out on Box Office because it’s one of those which my kids could watch a million times over and still enjoy.

Talking about a million times over… do you know my children are STILL watching Frozen? Is this normal? Never before have they been this entranced by a movie. Like they will choose to watch scenes from Frozen in the TV time they get during the week, rather than watch regular Disney Junior or whatever. And by watch, I mean they narrate the movie word by word. They could probably do Frozen on Broadway without scripts because they know all.the.words. Are your kids over Frozen yet?

Talking about books… so Liam gets to bring a book home every week from the school library and so far his choices have been awesome. So I’ll read it to them the first few nights and then Liam reads it to us the rest of the week. But guys, the novelty is wearing off. I like to read a book once, maybe twice. And then we can revisit it in like a few months maybe. Now we have to read the same book all week because he says so. We haven’t touched ANY of our other books since school started. BORED bored boreddddddd. So this week he brought home Enid Blyton’s Noddy. My most favourite childhood author. And it’s a lovely thick story book with chapters that will take us all week to read. It’s gorgeous! And spoiler alert, I never knew the beginnings of Noddy,  I just thought the story starts with Noddy in Toyland, but no it doesn’t! If you have kids around 4 / 5 / 6, I think they’ll like this book; it’s full of mischief and humour that this age group LOVE. I thought my kids had outgrown Noddy years ago, in fact, Noddy was the theme of Liam’s first birthday party, but I do believe the Noddy bug has bitten.

I’m not reading anything currently. Well, I am reading the Bible-in-a-year and doing a few other Bible plans alongside my lovely Bible Babes and let me tell you, I am behind even in that. It’s like my head hits the pillow and I am instantly comatose. If my husband was reading this, he’d say “you have time for social media but you don’t have time to read, go figure.” So I’ll just leave this topic here.

Exciting things coming up in my near future: Liam turns 6.SIX.SES on Monday. This is generating lots of excitement and dominating all conversation when they aren’t singing Frozen songs. Then work conference at Pezula in Knysna in March – you don’t even have to say it, I know you’re jelly. And Cape Town for Easter… well technically for the 2Oceans Marathon but that’s Easter weekend. So there’s enough going on to keep me out of trouble 🙂

Here’s a photo of Liam’s first Noddy birthday. Can’t believe this was 6 years ago! Also, look at my very preggy belly sticking out there 🙂 S7301299

 

 

When you have to clean your own house…


I will start by saying I miss Zoleka. I miss having someone to clean up after me… ok, let’s be honest, she used to clean up before me, after me, over me, under me. I did no cleaning whatsoever and I miss having the luxury of having someone to take care of all that *stuff.* I can’t lie and say that I can’t WAIT to get home tonight so I can clean up the supper dishes and tidy up a bit. No. Last night I washed four pots. FOUR pots. My husband did the cooking – with FOUR pots? I never use so many pots when I cook, just saying. FOUR POTS??!!

But.

I must be honest and say that it isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Also, can I just say how I LOVE cleaning products. My word. It’s like getting new stationery. And they smell so good. When I wasn’t cleaning, I would buy whatever would do the job at the cheapest price. Whatever Zoleka asked for, I would get with very little thought. Now, I’ve taken the art of shopping for cleaning products to the next level. And it has made such a difference. Our laundry smells like lavender fields, our toilets smell like cherry blossoms, our laminate floors smell like real oak. Ha! I’ve had to reorganise my kitchen and make a whole new cupboard for all my special cleaning goodies. And this is no slight on Zoleka at all, but it’s amazing how when you take ownership of something, how you do it right, and you can notice the difference immediately. Now that I’m in charge of the cleaning, I CLEAN. And I make sure everything is clean ALL the time. And it’s given me a weird sense of satisfaction.

I only do washing once a week on a saturday morning, and because the weather has been so glorious this has been a breeze. Let’s have this conversation again in Winter when it’s cold and damp all day long. Grrr. Hubby has already been talking about a tumble dryer and considering we’re only doing 2/3 loads a week, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea. I work through the house room by room, I start with dusting the furniture and windowsills, then I sweep and husband mops behind me. We each do a bathroom and I like to do the kitchen myself. And that’s pretty much the house cleaned for the week. On the little things that need to be done daily: I sweep the kitchen floor every night and I wash the toilets every chance I get because toilets get manky fast when you have two small children. The kids wash out the bath for me and they make their own beds everyday. Thankfully, there isn’t really time to make too much of a mess in the evenings so the house stays relatively tidy during the week. I’ve also started a wash-as-you-go policy, so that dishes don’t accumulate in the sink for the poor sorry sod who has to wash them that day. Even the kids wash their own plastic goodies every time they have a drink or meal; they have 6789 cups of water a day and that usually means 59 cups per day and they like to take out a new plate or side plate for every.single.thing they eat. I actually feel bad for the dishes they used to create for Zoleka now! Now they use one cup for the whole day and rinse it and fill it as they need to. I haven’t tried to do any ironing, I’ve left this all for the lady (A) who will be coming in from this week to help with the bigger stuff – changing the linen, wiping down cupboards and walls, etc. I just cannot bring myself to iron clothes, I can do anything but I can’t iron. Or rather, I don’t want to. Depending on how fast A works, I may get her to do ALL the cleaning once a week and then I’ll just maintain during the week… we’ll see.

I’ll tell you what cleaning my own house has done for me. As I said, it leaves me feeling very satisfied, I also love knowing where my stuff is at all times because I PUT it there and we don’t have any fights over who used what last, and where they left it. Essentially, Mr Nobody has moved homes because he doesn’t live with us anymore! I love how the kids have started taking responsibility for their belongings and how they have become real helpers around the house. Oh, I’m starting a rewards chart for chores this week. More to keep them motivated than anything else. I want to reward them for being good helpers, I want to show them that hard work pays off… but not for the normal things I EXPECT them to be doing anyway, rather for pulling together and making this work for the family.

One of the things I miss about not having full time help is the all-day-every-day delivery address. We have security in our street but I don’t exactly want them collecting all my incoming packages, that’s a bit out of their job description. Secondly, the on hand baby sitting service. Man, this is probably the most difficult thing to be without. I can’t just zip to the shop quickly to pick up something and leave the kids at home. Date nights will be few and far between, and all my extra curricular activities, read:girls breakfasts, church meetings, dinner parties, etc, will have to be carefully planned.

But so far, so good. It has been an eye opening experience… like who would have thought that dust collects SO quickly on furniture or that the kitchen bin fills at the rate of speeding light and needs to be emptied every five minutes. Or that a dirt smudge on the kitchen floor would cause me to twitch nervously. Unbelievable really. Ha.

I’m not saying this is our plan forever. But I do think this plan is sustainable for us, for the foreseeable future at least.

Who cleans their own houses? Or do you have full time or part time help? Why have you chosen to go with that particular option?