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Our First Term In Grade 1 – What Just Happened?

My little girl started Grade 1 this year – I don’t know where the time has gone, but the first term is done and dusted and I am just left here catching my breath. With this being my very first “big school” mom experience, I had absolutely no idea what to expect – but I honestly did not expect it to be this damn hard.

I think back to that first morning, I squeezed her little hand as I navigated our way through the endless maze disguised as a school, and hugged her tighter than usual before I watched her walk into her classroom.  I knew she was nervous to be at a new school with new faces, but her confidence floored me. I learn so much from her every single day. I’m glad she couldn’t see my tears from behind my sunglasses, because I was trying to be brave like her. 

I try to be many things, but it is only the first term and already I felt like I was drowning – that I was completely messing up and that I was the only mom in the world that was not quite getting it.

Maybe I am just not as organized and sorted as I always thought I was? The juggling act was what ultimately drove me to resign from my full-time job and start my business – but I will chat more about that some other time. I just cannot seem to make the timeline work in my head… I used to start work at 7:25am in the morning, and I am assuming most parents start between then and 8:30am. School starts at 7:50am – so how is anyone ever on time? Mikayla has arrived to school late more times than I care to admit, hopefully that will change now.

Another thing I found extremely hard was that Mikayla needed to go to aftercare as I only finished work at 4:20pm. She had to make her way through the school grounds to the aftercare center and  head of to her extra-murals by herself. She has developed a sense of independence that I was not quite ready for. In essence, she would be at school from 7:50am to 4:30pm – that is a long day for a little kid, but it was necessary. Then came the homework…. so much homework… so much repetitive homework. I really tried to just keep it together and show interest in the work she was doing, but after a long day at the office, having to sit and do an hour of grade 1 homework is not quite my idea of fun. And somehow you still need to cook supper, tidy the house, spend time with the other kid, bath them, read bedtime stories, pack lunches for the next day and spend quality time together. How do people make this work?? How do you manage to get it all done without burning out from exhaustion?

Keeping up with school aged children’s schedules / homework / calendars / sporting events / class parties and PTA meetings…is like living another life. On top of the life you’re already living. So just when you thought you were a pretty “on top of it” mom? You know, that mom that just does it all?  BAM…life serves you primary school and you now have 800 extra responsibilities that no one warned you about.

(Either that or they warned you and you never listened. Which is probably the case with me.)

I spent the entire first term feeling awful about my abilities to raise kids. I questioned whether it was my selfishness that kept me from being organized or was it my laziness? Because, when it came to anything else in my life…I was type A and super-duper organized. Why was it so hard for me to get this school thing in order, then?!?! And I have a husband that is extremely involved, so it is not that I am doing it all alone. Do you know that due to work commitments, I have never been able to attend a single school event or fun day? Do you know that this is the first school holiday (besides December holidays) that I have EVER spent at home with my kids?

I’m not proud. But I’m honest.

Honest because I’m certain I’m not the only mom failing at this. Honest because I know there have to be others struggling to keeping it all together like me.

I was spreading myself too thin, but my goal is to be more organized in the 2nd term. I want to be able to truly put my kids first, to focus on them and their interests and be a present mom. I need to be more involved, I need to be there for her… Each day she is growing older, kinder and wiser and each day I will step back a little more to allow her to be the women she is destined to be. But she cannot become that women if her mom is an unorganized, hot mess.

The only clear way out for me was to resign from my highly demanding, stressful and full-time job – a bit drastic, but there are a few other things that contributed to this decision.

I suppose what I want to know from you, after this whiny session – is how do you get it right? What do you do to make life easier? Any tips on how to get started and be more organized?

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Maz Halliday

Maz is a Fashion Designer from Cape Town, South Africa. She is a full-time working mom to two of the most gorgeous, yet tiring kids you will ever lay eyes upon. She maintains her sanity by blogging at Caffeine and Fairydust and rocking from side-to-side in her bath tub at night (with a glass of bubbly - no one ever said you can't be fabulous while having a nervous breakdown). She aims to broaden people's perspectives - and in the process will either make you laugh or p%#@ you off. Don't be shy... come say hi!

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10 COMMENTS

  • Kim Muller

    I wish with all my heart I could just resign from my job and start my own thing (maybe one day when I’m big). Grade 1 is brutal and I’m struggling too. I don’t have it all together (and I’ve added another unit to my brood recently) and I’m sure a lot of other moms don’t have it all together either. Social media just show us the pretty bits, makes us feel incompetent as mothers and then guilty for not being able to keep up with the Kar-Jones’es 😀

    I wish you everything of the best in your new venture, I am sure you will amazing and super successful (I’m rooting for you!!).

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Kim! I have been wanting to leave my job for many years, and I am still not sure if I did the right thing. Financially, it is extremely scary!! But I appreciate the support, I truly do.

  • Jodie

    I would like to know how YOU got it right?!?! Resigning from your full time job that is! I, like you, have a child who started grade 1 this year. I drop him in the morning at around 7am (school starts at 7:20) and then head straight to work which is about 10min away from his school to start work at 7:30 (I usually get here around 7:15). I only fetch him from school on ONE day of the week. On the others, I have a variety of help. Aftercare is not an option financially as it literally costs R20,000 for the year…about 80% of the full year school fee!! School homework has actually been an easy one for us so far. But I hate that I cannot pick him up myself, that I get home and go through homework and then have to only spend 15minutes with my other boy because in between that I have cooking and other things. And although I work with a company that has “flexi-time”, I don’t see anybody willing to accommodate me. In fact, when I have had to rush out to grab him and drop him at home, I’ve had funny looks and comments. I am confident there’s a solution so that I can be more involved with my kids, but at the same time, life is SO expensive. So again, HOW did you do it???

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      Life is insane Jodie… My job was also supposedly “flexi-time”, but there was nothing flexi about it. And I completely understand how you feel about not being able to pick him up yourself – I never get to pick my kids up, I don’t even know what their aftercare teacher looked like. It is also hard juggling between giving both kids equal amounts of attention – I constantly feel like I am letting one of them down. Okay, how I did it…. Sjoe. It has been coming for years, I will write a proper blog post on it, but basically after growing Caffeine and Fairydust for a good number of years it is now a a point where it brings in a sustainable income – not quite enough yet, but I am hoping to grow it. I am also launching my own company on 9 April which needs to make up for the rest of it. It is extremely stressful, and today I am having a bit of a wobbly trying to figure out how I am going to make enough money for next month – but I just have to believe that i t is going to be okay. I also managed to save up about 3-months worth of salary should things go south! But I will write a proper blog post soon.

      • Jodie

        Yes, please blog about it 🙂 And all the best with it all, I’m sure it’ll be successful!! I heard on the radio yesterday something like working mums apparently do the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs. You’re not the only one struggling to manage it all, we’re in it with you, keep your chin up xxx

        • Maz
          AUTHOR

          It is hard when there are so many moms out there that makes it look so damn perfect, and then they are probably still part of the PTA as well! But, that being said – I am really glad that I am not the only one feeling this way.

  • Simone Cameron

    I don’t recall our parents having stress like this about us when we were at school. The anxiety levels…it’s insane. My son started Gr 1 this year and I know I sound like an asshole, but it was a breeze…why? Because Gr 4 is kicking our asses so big time! We have one or 2 days relied on the 9yr old to help the 6yr old with his homework. And I still have a very demanding 2yr old in the wings….

    I start work an hour earlier now so that I can get home before 5 to help with homework. My husband lost his job late last year, but I tell you, besides the financial horror, when it came to the kids and their schedules….it was such a blessing. 3 kids, 3 drop offs, 3 different pick up times. 3 lunchboxes. He’s just started a temp job and I’m already wondering how we’ll keep all our eggs in one basket with both of us working again and the kids being so busy busy.

    I’m sure you’ll all be happier as a family with your new situation and you’ll be a success in your new venture <3

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I honestly don’t know how you do it. Just having two kids is completely kicking my butt – I don’t know what we are going to do when Mikayla gets to grade 2, 3, 4 etc. It seems like it would be impossible if I had to work full-time again. And you are totally right, our parents never had to worry about these things… unless they were way tougher than us and just hid it really well.

      I am so glad your hubs found a job! Even if it is just a temp one, it is still a blessing. GOOD LUCK! May the force be with you

    • Tanya

      Have to concur on the Grade 4 thing. If you think grade 1 is tough HANG ON TO YOUR HATS ladies. Grade 4 is insane. Have moved my son to a Cambridge curriculum school now and I have to say the workload and homework is a lot less. My grade 1 CAPS kid has more homework than my grade 7 Cambridge kid. Go figure. Now life is complicated by having kids at different schools with totally different ways of communicating 🙂 you do the best you can and try not to sweat the small stuff. If you don’t get through all the homework every night play catch up on the weekends.

      • Maz
        AUTHOR

        ugh… great. lol. Knox is also at a Cambridge school, and loving it – seriously considering moving Mikayla over as well. CAPS sucks balls.

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