32 things you’ll inevitably obsess about in your child’s first year at school

July 20, 2017

So our first year of school is drawing to a close…but seriously, how has Reception gone so quickly? It doesn’t seem like two minutes since I dropped my tiny child off at the school gate in her giant uniform, trying not to cry (me, not her).

And now there’s only a couple of days before I can pick her up for six whole weeks, with the uniform now outgrown, dishevelled and covered in paint.  No, *you’re* trying not to cry again.

I’m amazed at a) how heart-wrenchingly emotional it has all been at times and b) how much she has grown (and how many teeth she has now lost – eight!) and also c) how it’s been a steep learning curve for everyone, me included, with all the lessons I’ve learned about primary school.

Starting primary school - six things that completely surprised me

Not least that, despite five years of experience I’m still pretty much the same as when I was a new mum, when I obsessed about everything in the first year of my child’s life,

So to celebrate the end of reception, here’s 32 things I obsessed about in my child’s first year at school, things that you might have obsessed about too. Sound at all familiar?

  1. Before school even starts, the obsession about how many months, weeks, and hours are left until the first day. Not that you’re counting, but oh man…only three weeks?
  2. And all the emotional lasts – last playgroup, final nursery session, last time you go to a quiet museum in the school day or hang out at the park at 9.30am, everything…
  3. How your child could possibly be old enough for school; weren’t they just born?
  4. Moving to Sweden, where children don’t go to school till seven
  5. Or trying out home schooling instead…if only you had more patience and knew anything about teaching. Oh
  6. If you get a home visit or just a stay and play…you have a lot to answer for, Topsy and Tim
  7. Trying not to cry like a baby on the first day
  8. Remembering to pick them up an hour later
  9. Remembering all the things you have to remember about reception – right uniform, right shoes, sports kit on the right day, all the money for various things, replying to emails, replying to all the many messages, filling out forms, reading books, making things, sending things in and so on
  10. When you’re going to drop a ball / some balls / all the balls and forget something really important
  11. Finding out what exactly they do at school all day. Are they secretly spy kids?
  12. Why all children seem to only eat jacket potatoes and cheese for lunch
  13. Why parent’s evenings make you feel like *you* are back at school, perched precariously on the tiny chair with an overwhelming sense that you have been really, really naughty
  14. How schools haven’t changed in 30-odd years. And everything is the same, from the wooden piano to the sports mats in the echoey gym, the paper-mounted wall displays and that weirdly nostalgic disinfectant smell
  15. If this day will be the day you sleep in, are dreadfully late and have to do the walk of shame to the office, breakfast in hand
  16. If this day will be the day you forget to pick your child up
  17. What day is forest school, again?
  18. Will several layers of arctic waterproofs be warm enough for forest school? And ten pairs of socks?
  19. How to not sob uncontrollably through the school play (no idea, I didn’t manage it – the tears started the minute the piano did)
  20. Where to put all the piles and piles of ‘artwork’ that come home day after day (an aside: how do children just know when you try and ‘recycle’ them? I’m always met by a child standing over the bin, saying ‘Mummmeeeee….’, shaking their head with a disappointed look on their face)
  21. What to do with yet another giant creation made of ten cereal boxes and three egg cartons covered in glitter and glue and paint and drinking straws
  22. The weird world of phonics books. Nat and Matt did what now with the rat?
  23. Playground politics
  24. What last-minute fancy dress request will be sprung on you next. SURPRISE!
  25. How to get whiteboard pen / glue / paint out of school uniform…again
  26. The constant challenge to keep white socks vaguely white-ish
  27. How to find two vaguely similar socks at the end of term
  28. How utterly magical it is when they bring a book home and actually read it out to you
  29. How utterly magical it is when they learn to write
  30. How amazing it is seeing how much they’ve developed and learnt and grown in such a short space of time. And how teachers are complete heroes; dealing with 30 kids all day and no CBeebies?
  31. The mystery of how Reception can possibly have gone by in the blink of an eye after a five year big build-up…
  32. …but then what’s this, they have to go back next year?! What’s year 1 going to be like…?

All the things we've learned from the first term of primary school

How many weeks is the school holidays, again?

Most posts… things they definitely *don’t* tell you in NCT classes (NCT! Seems so long ago now…) and in search of a responsible adult – all the reasons I don’t feel old enough…


  • Kim Carberry

    July 20, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Ahh! This did make me smile and chuckle.
    My girls are 9 & 14 now but I still remember their first years at school….
    I still struggle to find out what exactly they do at school all day? It’s a mystery. lol

  • Wendy

    July 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I hope they love it! Nearly time for the new school year…

  • Kelly Mahan

    August 1, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    It warms my hear to read posts like this! Makes me remember everything I already been through and also wish to go through it again, lol. Enjoy these obsession!

    1. gillian

      October 19, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Haha, thanks! x

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