What I've Learnt In My First Year As a School Mum

5 year old school boy in blue polo shirt and baseball cap, smiling and giving a thumbs up

In just a few days, my biggest boy will have finished his first year of primary school and while I'm sitting here feeling all emotional about how quickly it's gone (a total cliché, I know!) he's already getting excited about going into Year 1.

This time last year I was feeling the pressure of getting Finley ready for Reception. I knew he'd be fine but I was more worried about how I'd handle it! I felt like I really had to step up to the mark - it's almost like I'd been playing pretend for 4.5 years and that having a child in school would suddenly make me a 'proper' mum! With that in mind, I thought it was time for a little look back on what I've learnt in my first year as a school mum:

Free school dinners are totally worth signing up for
Not only have they saved me a fortune in packed lunches, but they've also saved me the stress of having to make them the night before (or, realistically, at the last minute every morning!) I really like knowing that Finley gets a well balanced meal every day and eating with his friends has encouraged him to try loads of new things.

Clarks still make bloody good school shoes!
I can still remember being dragged around shoe shops, waiting for what felt like forever to be measured, moaning that my feet hurt and generally complaining about the whole process (sorry mum!) It was always worth it to get good quality Clarks shoes though, so of course I did the same for Finley. Typically, he had a big growth spurt after turning 5 so they only lasted from September until January. I ended up buying a cheap pair of supermarket own brand ones to tide him over until I could go shoe shopping in half term and they fell to bits pretty quickly - lesson learnt!

School mum friends are lifesavers
Honestly, I couldn't have survived this year without my little group of mum friends! I know not everyone is fussed about the social side of school and besides, making friends as an adult is hard, but I really embraced the chance to get to know some new faces. It's been so nice to have people to chat to at the school gates, sit with at birthday parties and just generally check in with about school life ("When does this trip form need to be in by? Have you started on the homework yet? Could you let the teacher know I'm going to be 5 minutes late at pick-up time?!")

You'll be handing out loose change left, right and centre
I've had to start saving my change in a jar for Finley because he seems to need money for something every 5 minutes. You'll need to send in money for snacks, trips, PTA events, non-uniform days, charity donations, the list goes on...

Preparation is key
It sounds obvious but having everything laid out the night before has made the the mad dash to get ready for school a million times easier. I did this from day one but then I saw a tip on Facebook about organising school uniform into a 5 drawer storage tower, so off I went to B&Q in search of one (for some reason, most places only seem to do them in 3s or 4s) which I labelled up with each day of the week and it's ruled my mornings ever since. It hasn't stopped us from being late but it's definitely helped!

There's always something to dress up for
With World Book Day, Christmas Jumper Day, Children In Need, Red Nose Day and an assortment of random non-uniform days popping up throughout the year, you'll need a well-stocked dressing up box for all occasions. Failing that, Amazon Prime and 24 hour supermarkets are your friends (and yes, I am talking from experience!)

Watching your child perform on stage will make you burst with pride
I'd been to nursery performances before so I wasn't expecting things like harvest festivals, assemblies and nativities at school to make me emotional, but I couldn't have been more wrong! There was a definite lump in my throat as I watched Finley twirling around on stage and singing his little heart out during the nativity play. He's always been quite shy but school has given him so much confidence!

The mum guilt will creep in at some point
I've been invited to so many parent events, activities, assemblies and school trips throughout the year but going to every single one of them just isn't feasible. I work every day and although I've been able to swap a few hours here and there, poor Finley has had to learn that I can't always drop everything to come to school in the middle of the day. I've been lucky that other people have covered the things I couldn't go to (Grandma went to sports day and some of my mum friends took photos of him receiving prizes in assembly!) but the times that I did manage to make it in were pretty special.

Expect to hear the words "I don't know" or "I can't remember" on a daily basis
It doesn't matter how many different ways I phrase the question, whenever I ask Finley what he's been doing at school the answer is always the same! Of course he suddenly remembers and wants to tell me every single detail of his day as soon as his head hits the pillow at bedtime...!

It's one of the most rewarding years of your life!
I've been amazed at how much his class have learnt in such a short space of time. Since September, Finley's gone from scribbling to drawing proper pictures, from writing just his name to writing full sentences with capital letters and full stops, and from "I can't read!" to confidently reading entire chapter books. It's totally blown my mind and made me so ridiculously proud.

This year has been exhausting and amazing (for both me and Finley!) in equal measures but I'm told that Year 1 is a whole different ball game so I've got a feeling I'll be back at square one come September. In the meantime though, I'm off for celebratory drinks with the school mums tomorrow night then it's time to start enjoying the summer holidays. Bring it on!