As Finn starts school, I'm changing my working hours, you see. His school don't do any after school clubs and certainly for the first months I want to be there to pick him up, hear all about his day and sit and do his homework with him (yes, really. At 4 years old).
I'm very lucky that I can do this. Part of the reason we started the business was to allow us the flexibility to work around family commitments and this is starting to pay off. So I'll work an extra day and finish in time for the school run.
The nursery Max goes to at the moment runs from 8-6 including school holidays. Which is great, and has been until this point but we do pay substantially for the privilege and even with the 15 hours free childcare that all 3 & 4 year-olds are entitled to in this country, it costs big at the start of each month. (You can use a maximum of 6 hours of the grant each day, in term time only so we still pay wraparound care for the other 4 hours a day and school holidays.)
So I kind of begrudge paying for evenings and school holidays when I'm going to be home anyway with Finn. I made the decision to move Max to a lovely local pre-school which is term-time only, and runs from 9-4. This will take his nursery fees from around £250 a month down to just £80. Bit of a no-brainer, really.
Your first child starting school is a big deal, right? I've written before about how much I'll miss him and my (irrational) worries for him but with all the anxiety (me) and excitement (him, thankfully) surrounding the beginning of this new adventure, I've not stopped to consider Max and how this new routine will affect him.
Since the day he was born, he's had Finn right at his side. I always think of the first-born as the pioneer, taking on life's experiences and carving out the way for their sibling(s). Finn was first to go to nursery, first to go to the activity clubs, first to walk, talk and hit the big milestones. By the time Max reached them, Finn was already there. Watching out for him, keeping him company and providing a familiar, comforting presence each time.
For the first time, Max is to do something alone and it's upsetting me more now than Finn starting school. Max already clings and cries when I leave him at nursery, the sounds of 'Mummy!' chasing me as I leave the building (I must point out that he's stopped by the time I reach the front door and always has an amazing time at nursery, as I see when I collect him) and now I have to leave him somewhere new. New people, new environment, new children.
And for the first time ever he won't have his brother there. Alone. I'm actually near tears now thinking about it. How silly is that? Parents go through this all the time. It's something he needs to do, I want him to learn independence and confidence and all the things which go with growing up but I can't shake off the feeling that he's still my baby and still needs protecting. Insane, I know since he's just turned 3 but there you go.
He'll be fine. He's been for visits and cried when I had to take him home (surely a good sign?!). The ladies who run the group are brilliant and provide excellent, inspiring, fun activities to fill the day. He'll make friends who'll probably be going up to school with him and this is important, that he'll have familiar faces when he starts big school, making that transition much easier. And we'll have more time together. An extra 2 hours when he's collected and all those school holidays, ripe for adventuring.
He's excited, Finn's excited and I'm freaking out. The best thing I can do now is just keep my trap shut, keep this as exciting as I can for them and not allay my anxieties onto them and spoil what should be (and is) a happy, positive time in their lives. They need to learn a life independent of me, of each other and I know they'll have a ball. And you know what? I'm their Mum. No matter where they are or what they do, I'll ALWAYS be right there at their side.
P.S. Is it kind of ironic that as I conclude a post about how they look after each other, they're pounding on each other in the living room? Gotta go...