It’s 11 weeks since I published a post here and coincidentally that was only the 11th post I’ve published in the whole year, in writing terms that’s fast approaching a drought, one that surely must leave my 1 reader (hi mum) gasping for more? But it isn’t due to not having any ideas, those whoosh into my head on a regular basis while out running, but rather simply not having enough time or space in my brain to actually sit down and write something. I have 3 priorities in my life; family, work and running (not necessarily in that order) and once you add the need to sleep at least 6 hours a night it doesn’t leave much time or energy for anything else.
But right now, sat in a cottage in the middle of the black mountains in Wales I do have time. It’s ever so peaceful, with just the occasional creak from the wood burner as the metal expands a little due to the roaring fire inside and the sound of Bracken snoring from his position curled up at the bottom of the stairs.. The beauty of being away somewhere is you don’t have chores to do, I’m certainly not going to catch up on work email and with no Netflix there’s nothing to watch on TV either. So I’m grabbing this rare moment where the stars align to empty my brain of at least one of those blog posts that has been whizzing around.
You could sense from the children today that they’re also enjoying this slower paced life without the normal daily routines, after dinner today they put their pyjamas on and just played happily on the rug by the fire while the lady of the manor and I enjoyed a little glass of wine (it is a holiday after all). We all needed this holiday, a break from the routine and intensity which is the subject matter for this post; the school travelator.
The school travelator
At the start of each term the school travelator fires up again and we jump on board and spend the next 6 or 7 weeks desperately trying to keep moving quick enough to move forward a little. In my head the school travelator looks like the one at the end of Gladiators where the competitor runs up and then swings through the paper to win. I’d be the one falling over half way each time and sliding back down. Every task completed or item remembered is a step in the right direction Although I’ve yet to be invited to the meeting where the parent’s reward charts get handed out and we get awards for getting things right.
And there’s an awful lot to get right isn’t there? The basics of getting a child to school on time, who’s eaten breakfast, brushed their teeth, had their hair done and is wearing clean uniform is no easy task on it’s own. Then there is the various paraphernalia that has to go with them; book bags, drinks, PE kit, piano book on a Thursday, show and tell book once a month and of course a multitude of letters to return. Henry started school in September so we now have 2 of everything to remember and not always on the same days. I’m sure I must spend at least 10% of my week telling them to hurry up in the morning, how does it take a child 30 minutes to eat a dippy egg? A dippy egg that by that time is so hard I might as well not have bothered doing my finest sous chef impression to get a perfectly on the table and could have just left it to boil for 10 minutes before spreading it across a plate of broken up toast.
One day this term Henry shouted in a very cheery voice to me ‘I’m almost dressed daddy’, I turned around to find him wearing just his socks. Really the option at moments like that is to drink more coffee.
That is of course before we get onto the homework (because no matter how it’s dressed up that’s exactly what it is), the requirement to read with our children at least 3 times a week and in Matilda’s case practise the spellings she will be tested on the next week. I know it’s good to practise and repetition helps but at age 4 and 5 it all seems a bit much. I read to my children every day and love sitting with them at bedtime sharing the experience of a great story together but that’s very different to helping them figure out what sound the ‘y’ in a word is making this time.
My favourite homework so far was for Henry, a few sheets of cutting out exercises with a little note from his teacher to say that he’d struggled in class using scissors so could he practise at home. He really doesn’t struggle, in fact cutting is one of his favourite things. So once he’d done all the exercises and produced a pile of nicely trimmed shapes and sheets of paper with wiggly lines cut we popped them in plastic wallet and returned them to his teacher with a note saying ‘Henry loved this, had no trouble at all’.
It’s exhausting, a small window of time before and after school to cram so much in that with the best intentions inevitably ends up with stress for at least one of us. I can’t imagine what it’s like for couples who both work and don’t collect their children from childcare until after 5pm. We have less than 90 minutes in the morning from when they get up to when we leave the house and about 2.5 hours in the evening after school between getting home and starting the bedtime routine. It’s not much time but the travelator keeps moving and we have to keep up.
Anyone else feel like this? Anyone decided to step off the school travelator and do something completely different?