Lynette Fay: After being Septembered, will I make it through October?

At least we can put September's struggles behind us now. Can't we...? PICTURE: BUMBLESOFRICE.COM
Lynette Fay

"SEPTEMBERED. Exhausted, overwhelmed and confused as a result of back to school and back to activities." My husband forwarded this graphic to me recently, and I have been clinging on to it.

Being 'Septembered' might be the reason that I can't think straight and can't seem to shake the tiredness.

I now understand that 'settling in time' in school is as much for the parents as it is for the teeny tots who are entering the school environment for the first time. September was a steep learning curve. If I had to sit an exam in 'Septembering', I think that I would scrape a pass.

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Until the last few weeks, I thought that my only chance of a gold medal in the life Olympics would have been for wrestling with the toddler in an effort to get her dressed every morning.

I now have a whole new skill set. I am now in training for the 'get the almost-four-year-old through the morning routine, out the door and into school on time' category which is a whole new level of stress and training that I just wasn't expecting. This task is not as easy as it sounds...

Until she started pre-school, the morning routine could be taxing enough at times. I now realise that the secret was that we didn't have to be on time. Five or 10 minutes early or late, give or take, never really made any difference.

I had time on my hands to handle a last minute tantrum about a banana peeled or cut incorrectly. (Toddlers have very high standards when it comes to bananas.) I had time to plead with her to brush her teeth, not to wear wellies when the sun was splitting the trees and put her coat on when it was cold.

I now put in five solid training sessions per week as I try not to be that parent who is on their last legs every single day. I am seeing very slow but steady progress. All I have to do is get the child to school before nine o'clock; what is wrong with me?

I started off really well, too eager to impress perhaps, and found myself at the school gates a little too early. I felt a bit smug, I'll not lie.

Not one to waste time, I prefer to maximise the little I have, I gave myself 10 minutes more in the house of a morning. Big mistake. During those 10 minutes, the questions start about the lunch that is already packed, and then comes the big discussion about which hairstyle we are going for today.

French plaits have rocked up to number one on the desired list. Impossible to execute well when the child will not hold still for a second, never mind for a few minutes.

Unless in a play park, my pre-schooler has only two speeds – slow and stop. I am now the person who comes flying out of the house in the mornings, trying to usher her calmly into the car as she asks what is now her favourite question: "Are we late again, Mummy?"

"Yes, we are darling..." Mummy is a rebel. I am slowly beginning to recognise the other parents who are on the last legs each morning. I might have found my tribe.

The conversations on the way to school are priceless. Halloween is eagerly anticipated, and Monster Mash is on in the car on repeat at the minute.

Another morning on the way to school, she told me that she was "sad with me"; here we go, fasten the seat belts, as the fourth birthday fast approaches, she's tuning in to her feelings...


'Settling in time' is as much for the parents as it is for the children entering the school environment for the first time


Although I have never been as glad to see the back of September in my life, a new chapter has begun in our lives – rubber stamped by the arrival of the first birthday party invitation, which I found in the school bag the other evening (the child has no need for a school bag).

This is the start of it... Goodbye social life, it was very nice of you to show up – albeit momentarily – over the last year. I fear that we must part ways for the best part of the next 10 years as the closest I will get to having a social life again is by facilitating the busy diary of my almost four-year-old.