Packing Georgie’s lunch box is, apparently, a thrilling task. I have so much fun with it (most times) and try to include exciting yet healthy options. Apart from the school’s ‘no nut policy’, which means peanut butter is out of the question (boohoo) I think the possibilities are endless. I set time aside in the evening to get as much as I can ready for the morning and always keep in mind that I am feeding a three-year old, so small portions and bite-sized pieces are key. I photographed some of the lunches and snacks I put together during Georgie’s first and second week. Let’s see how long this lasts! (ha!)
Peanut butter and bananas in a tortilla wrap (this was the second day of school before I was aware of the ‘no nut’ policy’) and plain unsalted popcorn.
On a day when he needed only a snack: cucumbers, green beans, carrots and baby corn.
Sliced watermelon, carrot sticks and salami and cheese mini sandwiches.
Bow-tie pasta with broccoli and cheddar cheese and watermelon cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.Sandwich sushi rolls with cream cheese and raspberry jam, plain popcorn and blueberries.
Shredded roasted chicken breast, mayonnaise, carrot sticks, strawberries and blueberries.
Kids and school were (almost) the only two topics my girlfriends and I discussed last night over dinner. The beginning of the school year is a hot issue talked about by mothers all over the world especially by the ones who are new to the circle. When it comes to under 6s tears are unavoidable no matter what you do but there are ways to work around the sudden change, slowly and steadily. These tips have helped make our mornings easier.
1. Early bedtime: This, I believe, is essential to a happy and healthy child. Late nights and early mornings can make anyone cranky and uncooperative so work on an early bedtime to avoid a fussy toddler. For your information: On average, children between the ages of 3 and 6 require a minimum of 10 hours of sleep.
2. Involve them in snack decisions: I ask Georgie the night before what he would prefer. He gets to choose between two options both for snacks and lunch. I feel it feeds the independence he is experiencing with pre-school and makes him feel he is part of the decisions being made.It makes my life easier when the fridge and pantry aren’t always fully stocked too.
3. Talk about school but not too much: I’ve found that Georgie isn’t always eager to reply to the typical How was school question. I’m not sure why but I prefer not to push him. Instead I choose to receive all the answers to my questions from his teachers.
4. Find something they especially like about school and use it as a focal point: Since day 3, Georgie has shown a significant interest in the friends he has made at school. That he talks about often. Therefore, every morning we talk about all his friends/classmates and I can immediately see the excitement in his eyes.
5. Do not linger: No matter how much I want to stay with him, I don’t hang around longer than I have to. I say hello to his teachers as well as his little friends, lean in for a quick kiss and dash out. I have never snuck out and always fully explain how the day will progress and when I will be picking him up. ‘I’ll be back to pick you up when you’ve finished having lunch with your friends.’ Up until now, it works.
Monday, September 1. A day I had been dreading since we decided Georgie should attend pre-school. I kept mentioning to my friends and family how wonderfuly excited I am. It will be good for him, they would answer and I agreed. Still, having him by my side for three and a half years meant that separation anxiety was bound to rear its ugly head. It did and last week I fell into the deepest depression hole. I would burst into tears at least once a day and hold him a little longer every night before bedtime. He isn’t going anywhere, papa would say. He’s still your baby. But he’s wrong. And that’s the problem. He’s not a baby anymore.
Dressing him for school and preparing for those first-day-at-school photos, I could barely keep my shit together. My stomach was doing summersaults, my voice broken from holding back the tears. With his school bag on his back, he walked hand in hand with papa towards the school entrance and I drew a deep breath. This is it. School.
Yesterday, we survived Day 3. I say ‘survived’ because the first day was a breeze. That’s something that did not hearten me because I knew at that moment that he thought this was a one day activity. And why wouldn’t he? I’ve had time to process this change whereas he has been tossed into the spin with no warning. Day 2 he had to be torn from my body. It is a memory I decided to block. The only reason I am able to bring it up is because I called the school ten minutes later and the teacher said he was outside, playing. It had to be done, I told myself. Day 3 began on a sad note but ended shortly after his darling teacher appeared with a bucket of water. ‘Bye mummy’. Day 4 and no stress. Georgie looked forward to seeing his new friend, Matias and now my heart is at peace.
When I found out I was pregnant with Georgie, the plan was to…well, there was no plan. I imagined I would go back to work after my maternity leave, spend hours at the gym, drop Georgie at his grandmother’s every morning and kick back in the evenings with friends and wine. In no way would my life be disrupted apart from the extra accessory I would be carrying or pushing around, of course. Now I imagine the world must have stopped revolving at that moment and spat out the loudest BAHAHAHA!
I ended up staying home with Georgie and adopting the life of a stay-at-home mum. It still rings strangely but I have never enjoyed anything so much. This little man is my best friend and though I may not know what to do with myself at times, I do know he’ll always be my baby.
We are more than halfway through the summer holidays. Georgie’s first day at school is looming in the background of my mind. Yet it did not manage to spoil these purely magnificent days and nights we have spent with friends and family. Cold, miserable weather is more my cup of tea but man, I am learning to enjoy summer and I love it. Georgie has been on his best behaviour even after late nights and long days at the beach. I could not be prouder of him. We spent three days beachside and even though my camera was within reach, I just wasn’t interested. Instead I rode the ferris wheel with my heavenly baby at the fun park and rolled around in the sand with him on the beach. He is absolute joy and I am savouring every moment with him. Among our other summer activities are: celebrated papa’s birthday, took boat rides, barbeque’s in the rain, did yoga under a pine tree. And also welcomed my sister’s new baby boy. He arrived early and is absolutely perfect. Welcome to the family darling boy.
I hope you are having a truly great summer too.
Oh and before I forget, I made a little video from our three days sans baby. Take a look on vimeo. There’s a slight problem with the upload so give it time.