Friday, 19 July 2013

Surviving your first school year

Parent pressure has reared its ugly head for me this week, as we all counted down to the last day of term.

Thank you gifts for the teacher.

Throughout this week I've been hearing snippets of conversations about goodies being bought and handmade gifts being prepared. I've asked my own friends what they're doing and quietly taken in their replies.

So by Thursday evening I was feeling in a bit of a panic. As I looked down at the cards my son had written for his teacher and teaching assistants, I started to wonder if it was enough.

Not because I didn't think a card was enough, but because for a fleeting moment I was worried about turning up at school without the required gift bag.

Required by whom? Not the teacher I'm sure.  Gifts aren't like dinner money, they won't be chasing me for payment. Yet many parents buy presents simply because 'everyone else does it'.

The only pressure I was feeling was, indirectly, from other parents and the stories I'd been hearing about the preparations for this big day.  It still wasn't enough to do more than the cards but it had made me stop and think.

So I put it out on Facebook (as you do) and asked why the big gifts for teacher obsession?

I got a big range of responses. Different people do different things for all sorts of different reasons. And they probably don't care or notice what I'm doing. Absolutely no one is judging.

So as we come to the end of our first school year, what have I learned as a parent?

I've learned that we put the pressure on ourselves. The best thing you can do is have the courage of your own convictions and the confidence to do what feels right for you.

If that means buying every member of staff a lottery ticket, then that's great. If it means a simple thank you and a smile by the school gate, that's perfect too.

Don't do things because everyone else does, do it because you want to, and then try not to worry about it. Second guessing just takes too much time and energy ( I should know!)

Phew. I hope the second year is easier.