September is a demanding month, especially for parents of school-going children. There are rigid burdens on finances, time and emotions. In addition to the high cost of schoolbooks, uniforms, calculators and sundries, there is the added expense of travel and transport. For some families, September is more expensive than Christmas as it is also the time for annual registrations for clubs and societies such as rugby, soccer, cubs, horse-riding, Tae-Kwon Do, ballet and Irish dancing. All parents like to encourage their children to participate in extra-curricular activities, so in addition to the annual fee and the weekly subs, materials, togs and safety gear for each activity also have to be bought.
Time is such a valuable commodity and the constraint September places on it is cruel. Gone are the days the choice of staying in ones pyjamas until lunch time or waking up via body clock instead of alarm clock, was an option. Instead, there is the relentless schedule of time-keeping and scurrying. The emotional demands September brings are just as gruelling; parents become emotional sponges absorbing all the gripes and groans about teachers, friends and homework. Just remembering everything from who has PE and who has Piano and on what days (let alone getting them there on time and in gear) is exhausting.
Yet, just as the constant wallet-wrenching, clock-watching, crying at the school-gate, taxi-parent routine feels like it’s going to wear you down and that you are ready to throw your arms up in surrender – October will arrive and things will level off. The chaos will reach a plateau as schedules are filled to capacity, routine becomes clockwork and parents hit the ‘zone’; much like an athlete in training, September is the training that prepares parents for the year ahead.
Every parent deserves a little parent survival kit, a small token to remind them that they are doing a fantastic and extremely important job! If you know of a mom in need of one (or if you need one yourself) make one for each of you – it makes a lovely gift and is treasured as a memento or a paperweight!
These kits work equally as well in a glass jar (which you can decorate with a pretty lid) or in a zip-loc bag. Remember to print out the list of contents and their meaning and add it into your kit – some ideas for each kit could be: a toothpick; to remind you to ‘pick-out’ and look for the good qualities in your child and in any given situation. A rubber band; to remind you to grow and stretch with your child. A toy clock or watch; to remind you that this is fleeting and each phase will pass too quickly. A puzzle piece; to remind you that you are a very important piece in your child’s life. A pistachio nut; to remind you to spend time laughing and being a little ‘nutty’ with your child. A band-aid; for those times to need to remember there will be hurts and to roll with the punches. A birthday candle; to remind you to celebrate with your child the small achievements as well as the big ones. A small piece of rope; to remind you that your child needs limits and structure or you may reach the end of yours! A peppermint; to remind you that the job you are doing with your child is worth a mint. A piece of cotton wool; to remind you that your child needs hugs and kisses from you daily. A euro coin; to remind you that you are investing in your child’s future and that you are worthy of a treat now and again too!
As parents stand gasping for breath during the mid-term break, congratulate yourselves on a job well done – the academic year has thrown its worst at you and you have soldiered through the chaos. Until then, steal moments for yourself and find comfort in the small things; a cosy fire, a bedtime story, a bubble bath. Familiar faces in the school traffic with friendly toots and waves develop a sense of camaraderie in the school crush and brighten moods and spirits as everyone realises we are all in this together. Smile and survive September!