savour the pre-school years

I sent Che off on his first overnight camp today. Another parenting milestone I was hesitant to reach. Personally, I feel like it’s far too early in his school life to be doing this but apparently it’s quite normal for Year 3’s to hop on a bus with their PJs and a change of clothes and travel a few hours away to explore the city. He’ll have an amazing time, of that I’m sure, but still, it feels like we just got one step closer to being all grown up. Last night I fed him a cup of broth (he obliged without too much complaint) and filled him up on garlic-rich spaghetti bolognese. I made sure I packed extra singlets and socks and a handwritten note so he can read it before bed. I tucked a little box of smarties in his bag, too, because school excursions are the best excuse for special sweet treats.

Last week I picked up Poet’s enrolment form for school. She’s bubbling with excitement and questions, so enthusiastic to start kindergarten and make new friends. The form is on the fridge, no less complete than it was the day I picked it up. I’m stalling, partly because I loathe filling out forms but mostly because once I hand it in it’s all very official. If anything though, it’s a potent reminder to treasure our days with no plans, when she’s home with me and we draw or go to the library or enjoy babyccinos at the cafe.

I know my kids are growing up. I know that because I’ve had to increase the amount of food I buy, their winter pants are getting too short and I now spend three afternoons a week on the extra-curricular activity drive. I find myself occasionally considering the options for high-school which may seem far-fetched but I figure a little preparation can only be a good thing.

As I sort through the plethora of school notes that come home, check over spelling words and listen to tales from the playground, I sometimes find myself longing for the simplicity of the stay-at-home days. They may have been a little relentless at times but my goodness they were good! No school bells dictating my days, so little scheduling and hardly any routine. We did as we pleased most days, oblivious to our luck. The firstborn definitely has that advantage; no broken sleep or school drop offs and pick ups for them!

The days before school are peppered with lazy mornings and sandwiches cut into triangles, episodes of Play School and spontaneous park visits. There was coffee for me and apples cut into quarters for them, banana bread in the oven and storytime at the library.

I miss the uninterrupted rhythm of that time.

Today, with Che at camp and Poet at pre-school, I sat in the sun with Percy and watched him toddle around the back garden; smelling leaves, picking grass, banging a little pot on the washing basket. I savour those few hours between drop off and pick up where I can indulge in the nourishing rhythm of home days, just like before.

Those years before school…they are fleeting.

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Showing 11 comments
  • Vicki Doak

    I agree entirely. My first born started prep this year and I have found it a hard adjustment mostly because of the routine and pressure that it creates. Getting out the door by 8.45 with three children is a challenge, for me anyway. The days feel shorter and my jobs greater. I didn't realise how wonderful the uninterrupted rhythm of the time before was and now that time can never be regained again. Sad face.

  • Tin of tea

    So true! This is one of the (many) reasons why i'm starting to think quite seriously about homeschooling…

  • Hannah Murrin

    My first born starts school next year. Not only am I dreading living my day to day life to the sound of the school bell, but also worried that the institution of school (don't get me wrong, I am grateful to live in a country that offers education as a necessity) is going to ruin my sweet little boy and take away his innocence, and to be honest, I don't think I will ever be ready for that.

  • la Marette

    Je le redis ici, je suis enseignante en petite section de maternelle en France (enfants de 3ans) & je suis toujours attendrie & surprise par votre discours tant il me semble normal d'entrer à l'école à 2ans 1/2, 3ans ! En revanche, le nombre (j'ai 28 élèves) a de quoi affoler les parents d'autant que les enfants font pour la majorité des journées complètes 8h30-16h00, 4 jours 1/2 par semaine ! Jeudi soir, je reçois les parents des futurs petits afin de préparer avec eux la rentrée de Septembre… j'aurai votre post en mémoire…
    Un petit signe amical de France
    La Marette

  • Reply

    Aren't they just! This is our first year of being under the direction of school timetabling and it had a much bigger impact on the family than I really thought it would. It makes you long for holidays in a way that brings back childhood memories, doesn't it? And yes to realising the children are getting bigger because you have to buy more food! It amazes me how much they get through now.

  • Lucy W

    Could not agree more! I so often miss my six year old and resent the school routine now my eldest has started Kindergarten.

  • Amanda K.

    "The days before school are peppered with lazy mornings and sandwiches cut into triangles, episodes of Play School and spontaneous park visits. There was coffee for me and apples cut into quarters for them, banana bread in the oven and storytime at the library."

    such a pithy, accurate description of my mornings at home with my kiddos. how did you know? (except that we don't have Play School here in the states!)

    beautiful post. makes me glad i decided to wait a year for kindergarten for my oldest.

  • Lissa Snapp

    Beautiful Words Jodie!

    Our little one will be starting a small Waldorf pre-school 3 days a weeks in a few months and I know it will be good but I have been feeling a bit nervous for those early / rushed mornings that scheduled days bring. It feels too soon! Nice to see someone else with similar feelings. A beautiful time those early years, thanks for the sweet reminder!

    Warm Wishes, Lissa

  • Marnie

    Yes, the morning school rush and the clock ruling our days is one reason I am seriously considering homeschooling. I just love when holidays come around, I love having my children home and the whole day unplanned ahead of us xx

  • Clearwing

    My first just started crawling and we definitely enjoy our uninterrupted mornings. I will have to make some banana bread – you made it sound so good!

  • Mary Jo

    I completely relate to this post! I knew those days were special but man do I miss them 🙁 your days sounded just as ours and they are now only getting busier. But savoring these as much for what they are and how different it will look again in a few years time.

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