Now that H is coming to the end of his third year at school, I think I have just about got the measure of the ebbs and flows of the yearly school cycle. Some half terms are pretty laid back affairs, with perhaps just the odd school trip or mufti day to worry about. Others are totally crazy and so crammed full of events and requests that they make your head spin.
There are two absolutely mental periods which I think all parents of young kids learn to brace themselves for: one is just before Christmas and we are smack in the middle of the other one – the most manic of them all – the run up to the end of the summer term.
There are four weeks left until school breaks up and in that time we have two sports days, a ballet show, a nursery graduation, two school settling in days, a school disco, an open morning, two lots of parents drinks, ‘hobbies day’ at school and the PTA summer festival. Add to that the usual clubs, parties, a couple of weddings, various work meetings and a family weekend away. It is hardly any wonder my head is spinning just trying to keep on top of it all.
My calendar looks like a mad woman has been set loose on it. My best mate mocks me but I am still very much a ‘write it on the wall’ kind of person. I love my tech but somehow I still need my calendar to be old school and scribbled on. It is slowly dawning on me though that I either need to go digital or I need a much bigger calendar. Hell, I may even need a bigger wall.
When I pause to look at the whirlwind that is the coming month, my heart sinks when I realise that none of this really involves my youngest, Baby T (other than being dragged from one thing to the next or dumped on our childminder for the odd hour). This is a crazy half term full of events for two busy kids, not three. Give him a year or so and my baby boy’s diary will also start filling up rapidly. And then where the hell will I be? My head is already completely overloaded. I don’t fancy my chances of keeping up with all three of them.
I understand why so much has to be crammed into the last few weeks of term, but June into July becomes so hectic as a result. I know I am a born worrier but I actually lose sleep over it, knowing how much there is to organise and sort out, knowing what deadlines we should be meeting and what I have failed to get done the previous day.
And I know I’m not the only one this crazy busy time is taking it’s toll on either. After a particularly busy week, my poor little H is totally wiped out. He actually fell asleep on the sofa yesterday, something I can’t remember him doing since he was about three. Surely a seven year old shouldn’t have bags under his eyes, should he?
The middle one is going the other way. M’s hyperactivity is exhausting to watch. She is so beyond excited about school starting that we are counting the sleeps until September already. The settling in sessions she has coming up are the highlight of her year – she is going to be soooo disappointed when she realises she has to leave after just half an hour. She wants to wear her uniform to the taster sessions. I really don’t want to be that parent so I’m working on talking her out of that one. I have allowed her to wear a hand-me-down school skirt over her clothes on occasions though, although I think it stokes the obsession, rather than alleviating it.
And as with all highs, M’s are accompanied by many frustrated lows. Strops and tantrums are on the rise from my girl, who needs so much more than she is getting at home and at her outgrown nursery. She is four going on 14 and proving somewhat challenging these days.
And T? Where does my little lad fit into all this? Anywhere he can, bless him. He is pulled from pillar to post or dumped on someone while I rush about with the older two. For the most part, he endures being treated as a parcel with a smile and good grace, although he too reaches saturation point and loses his shit from time to time. I can’t blame him for that.
But T and I are on a countdown of our own, although he doesn’t know it yet. When September comes round, T will be my only preschooler and we will get to have six hours to ourselves three days a week. We will have all the time in the world to do his favourite things: read Clip Clop, play cars, watch Hey Duggee and have multiple Mummy Cuddles. All without annoying older siblings getting in the way. I’m hopeful that more one-to-one time will help to bring his language on beyond the grunting and pointing stage. It will also be a chance to enjoy my final toddler and learn more about him as he grows.
But that is a very long way off. Before that, we have a whole summer to negotiate. I have a feeling M’s school obsession is going to make this one feel a good deal longer than usual, although I comfort myself that it can’t be worse than the summer two years ago, with all three of them aged five and under, when T was a newborn.
But before we can even begin the summer, we still have that long and daunting list of events to tick off. I think we may have to spend the first week of the summer holidays in our PJs, to recuperate.