Hello September - and this month is a very significant one for me. I completed my last ever, 'first day back to primary school' after the summer holidays. I've been doing them for my three girls for fourteen years!
Over that time, the school has changed, the curriculum has changed, the teachers have changed, the parents have changed, but more than all of that, I have changed - and sadly not for the better!
1. My school preparation skills have deteriorated
When my first born started reception I spent the day before practising getting the school uniform on, discussing what was going to happen, mentally and physically preparing her (and myself) for what would happen the next day. She ate a lovingly prepared tea (probably her favourite), I helped her have a bath and settled her into bed about 7pm.
This time, we spent the day on the beach and got home really late. I threw some sort of tea together from what I could find at the bottom of the fridge which my youngest refused to eat. She probably ate a packet of biscuits when I was putting the washing on. I sent her upstairs to have a shower and wash her hair and get her own uniform sorted. Bed time was a tad later than 7pm!
2. My diligence regarding school shoes is not what it was
Oh wow buying those first school shoes was a big deal. They were purchased several weeks in advance, tried on several times to make sure they were comfy and stored carefully in their box until they were needed. Sadly, this was not the case on my last back to school day. I had made assumptions about the school shoes that were incorrect; the most significant being that they still fitted. They were recovered from the depths of the under-stairs cupboard, ten minutes before we left for school, and were found to be at least a size and half too small. I have always thought that tie-dyed multi-coloured canvas shoes go particularly well with school uniform, don't you agree? It was either that or flip-flops.
3. I cannot be bothered with sewing labels on anymore
To give me some credit, I stuck this one out for quite a while - probably 12 years in total. But after three kids the novelty of choosing the little design to go next to the name and sewing them into countless items of clothing has well and truly worn off. I scribbled her name, in biro, on the washing instructions label after she had put the uniform on. Job done.
4. My playground entrance strategy has evolved
On our first day I breezed in looking as approachable as possible, actively seeking out mums to talk to whilst my daughter clung in terror to my left leg. I was fully involved in setting up a schedule of get-togethers in the park and play dates. I established my position at the front of my daughter's class line, ensuring maximum visibility and exposure. Within days I was making mental notes of names and faces and within a month I could have named practically every child at the school and matched them up with parents. You could find me at the top of the parent volunteers list for trips and activities. I fear I may have peaked too soon.
This time my youngest daughter left me within seconds to go and stand with her friends so I felt a bit redundant. I headed for a quiet corner where I found a few Year 6 parents who were avoiding eye contact with the class teachers in case they were asked to help out with something. I had no idea who everyone else was!
So, I have reached the end of the road as far as 'back to primary school' days are concerned and leave the playground a very different person to when I entered it.
In a few years' time, if you see a grandmother, quivering grandchild at her side, standing at the front of your child's line arranging play dates and trying to make eye contact with you - it just might be me. Those skills cannot be allowed to go to waste!