Tuesday, 19 May 2015

9 lessons learnt during the pre-school year

We are approaching the end of my big boy's days at pre-school.  As one of the youngest in his year group, turning four in July, he has only been there since September, so it's a stage in his life that seems to have gone by very quickly.

Here are my nine lessons learnt by being mummy to a pre-schooler:

1. If there is a uniform, buy it.  And buy more of it than you think you're going to need.  You want to send your little angel out into the big wide world dressed in something half decent, but trust me, it's going to come back (even after a half-session) with green paint up the sleeves, snot on the cuffs, and yogurt spattered down the front.  I wave goodbye to a dapper little chap in the morning and invariably collect a street urchin at 2.45pm.

2. That your pre-schooler will spend much of their pre-school year being poorly.  No sooner do they finally get rid of that lingering snail-trail of a cold than they fall prey to another bout of the lurgy.  They're mixing with a group of children with various combinations of germs, and it's inevitable that they'll spend more time poorly than well.  And you will get these germs too.  Wider members of your family will also join the infected.  This year, I've had about three colds, one horrendous dose of the flu, and an episode of laryngitis.  One particular nasty virus did the rounds of M, F, me, my mum, my sister, my nan and my mother and father in law. Stock up on Calpol for them and paracetamol for you.

3. That, even if your child is fortunate enough to escape the dreaded nits, you will spend much of your free time sitting on the floor with your child's head clamped between your knees, inspecting their scalp like a mother orang-utan.

4. You will make very many journeys home from pre-school, (hoods up against the gales and the rain) holding your child's sticky hand, pushing the pram with the other, with enough pre-school art wedged under your arm to start a new Tate Modern.  It usually comes in the guise of a loo roll inner tube stuck precariously with sticky tape to an empty tissue box stuck even more precariously with sticky tape to a cereal box, all daubed in yet-to-dry paint.  'Look at my rocket, Mummy!'  Then, when you get home, you have the dilemma of how long you have to keep the thing on display before moving it closer and closer towards the recycling bin and then finally judging the best moment to ditch it.  'Mummy, where's my rocket?'

5. At the beginning of the pre-school days, much like the first few weeks of a new school term when you couldn't wait to write in your pristine exercise book and use your sharp new pencils, the first few weeks of preparing lunchboxes for your child is a real novelty.  Visions of lovingly prepared mini salads, wraps and sliced tropical fruits give way to the same rotation of three bog standard sarnies, yogurt, apple/banana/Satsuma and maybe a little treat like a cake or Freddo frog.  Make friends with kitchen foil and sealable sandwich bags, because those mini Tupperware containers ain't coming back home!  And plastic spoons are a necessity, otherwise your cutlery drawer will soon become rather bereft of teaspoons.

6. Don't stress about the Accident Book.  The first couple of times that M's key worker informed me that he was wearing a wristband (theme-park style) because he had had a 'little accident' I went into a mini panic.  It turns out that he stubbed his toe.  One particular day, I collected him and he was sporting two accident bands (a badge of honour?) but it's never been anything more than a little bump on the head or a knock on the knee.

7. Getting out of the house and to pre-school punctually, and at the same time as the entire area's workforce, the local primary school kids, and the local secondary school kids, is a bit of a skill to master.  I've learnt this year exactly how much of a time buffer I have to build in to our departure to take account of the following:

  • a point-blank refusal to get dressed/brush his teeth/get in the car
  • a little brother nappy explosion
  • getting stuck behind the school bus
  • being unable to park within a mile of pre-school
  • a last-minute breastfeed for little brother
Still, however long I leave, I always seem to cut it fine.

8. You will receive invitations to a LOT of birthday parties of children you don't know.  You're not even sure whether your child knows the birthday boy/girl.  I've tested M by asking him if he knows certain kids in his pre-school, and then by making up names. He always says that he knows the made-up child.  You begin to realise that it doesn't matter whose party it is; as far as your little one is concerned, there's a bouncy castle, and sausages on sticks and fairy cakes, so who cares?  The time then comes for your own child's party and you feel the temptation to do something different to the tried and tested party in the sports centre with the bouncy castle and the sausages and the cakes, but come to the realisation that it's a popular format for a reason.  Chiefly, that (a) it's not in your house, and (b) you don't have to supervise pass the parcel for 30 four year olds.

9.  But all of this comes with some good parts.  As well as a bit of a break from the constant Lego, trips to the park, and at-home crafting sessions, you will also get to see that look of absolute adoration when you arrive to collect your grubby, yogurt-spattered, wristband-wearing, paint-daubed cherub, and feel your heart swell as they squeal,  'It's MY Mummy!!!  Can you carry this rocket, Mummy?'

You Baby Me Mummy


  1. Ha I absolutely loved this- so true. We are currently in the midst of the pre-school years too. x

  2. So so true!! Brilliant post :) x

  3. Thank you Steph! Good to know I'm not alone with this! x