How to Cope with the First School Day Blues

The First School Day Blues

I had a chat to The BigJ about the impact of the new routines, and the blues that can unexpectedly hit when school starts, on Hobart’s ultra106five
February 11, 2018

How to Cope with the First School Day Blues

Have a listen to the audio, below. Or, further down, read the blog post, explaining how I got into the pits and 12 things I did to crawl back again.

Long, long ago, when my first baby arrived, I decided to be a stay-at-home mother (SAHM) until she hit the Primary Years. Should everyone be a SAHM? No way! But it was the right thing for me. What I hadn’t expected was the “last of the first school day blues”!

I don’t think I’d looked forward to, or dreaded, the first day of school ever so much in my life

I’d been preparing for this day for what felt like years. It was the first day of school for my youngest child – the last time I’d be sending someone off to their first day of school. I don’t think I’d looked forward to, or dreaded, the first day of school ever so much in my whole life . . . with the possible exception of my own first day at school! For me, this day was marking the end of a season, and the beginning of a brand new one.

Big Decision – Bigger Implications

I didn’t realise at the outset, but becoming a SAHM was my way of treasuring every moment with my eldest daughter. I’d lost my mother when I was just 16, and I wanted to make the most of every precious moment with my little girl, “just in case”. Funny, how your head works. I have since discovered that this is quite a common outcome for women like me, who lost their mothers young.

However, that decision had big implications, because it was never my intention to have five babies. And, of course, I wanted to soak up every moment with each one! My return to work date was delayed another few years with the arrival of one baby, and then another with more to follow. Which was fine. I really enjoyed my years as a SAHM. But if someone had told me at the start I would be doing it for 17 years, I don’t think I would have believed them.

At last, the big day arrived

So you can understand my excitement as my youngest approached her school years. I began to prepare for my transition back to the work force with eager intention nearly 18 months before the big day. (Read about my preparations HERE.)

It was going to be great! Freedom! I couldn’t wait. For months, I got up early to journal, pray, reflect and ponder as the date slowly inched closer. I was so looking forward to the freedom that day would bring.

Finally, it came. I remember it all so clearly. But while watching my little one bounce off with new friends, my heart had a peculiar response. It was a terrible mixture of euphoria and despondency. It was the first school day blues – and doubly heavy because it was the LAST of the first school day blues!

    I am free!  Oh, but I will miss her so much!

    I can’t wait to get home! Oh but what am I going to do then?

The school had organised  the usual morning tea for first-day mothers, but I found it to be surreal. Was this day, really happening? This momentous day that I’d been looking forward to so much? It was almost an anticlimax. I blabbed away for as long as I could bear to the few I knew, and quickly made my escape. I needed to go home and process. It was all a bit much!

Interestingly, I read this article, and it seems I’m not alone in the first day blues stakes.

Happy Dance – I Think?

I had delayed looking for work until we got passed that day, which seemed a good idea at the time. But I question the wisdom of it now, because I became quite depressed over the next few weeks. I suffered a big, and unexpected, hit from the first school day blues. Perhaps if I already had a job lined up it wouldn’t have been quite so disconcerting. I was all over the place.

I suffered a big, and unexpected, hit from the first school day blues

My head was doing a happy dance – and reeling – all at the same time. My life’s focus had shifted so rapidly. While I had prepared, I was still incredibly un-prepared. I suppose nothing can really prepare you for a new reality like that. 17 years of SAHM moments, and they were all gone. Done and dusted. My new season had begun, and while I had looked forward to it with a passion, the transition experience was not so cool after all.

What it was like

The house was very quiet. I had time to myself – hours and hours! I had no routine to get me through the day. After arriving home after school drop off around 9am, I had nothing much to do until leaving for school pickup around 3pm. Yeah, there were the breakfast dishes, and the last of the holiday laundry. But it was a huge adjustment and I was incredibly surprised. My anticipated freedom fell flat. It was all unexpectedly more difficult than I had imagined it would be.

It took a few weeks to get over this episode of the first school day blues. Just like my daughter had to get used to being a school girl, I had to get used to this new big wide open space to live in. Within two months I had nailed a job. Those two months were like a butterfly’s chrysalis – after a while I flew, but the transformation was not simple, and at times quite painful.

What I did about it

Having no mother of my own to go back to for comfort and perspective, I looked at other coping strategies . . .

  1. I started to plan out my days, and actively timetabled things to do
  2. Of course, I looked for work
  3. I got together with girlfriends for coffee. “Your place or mine?”
  4. I kept on with my praying and journaling
  5. I snuck in a few afternoon naps – I don’t think I realized how tired I had become
  6. Here’s a great article on Self-care. In addition to naps I also . . .
      1. Took a few long walks
      2. Made appointments for delayed health and dental checks
      3. Cleaned out some long-forgotten personal items, hidden in drawers and cupboards
      4. Re-visited a few hobbies I’d let go
  7. I didn’t give up on my dreams
  8. Let go of what I couldn’t control
  9. Stayed away from negativity, and negative people
  10. Made before and after school time special for my kids
  11. Kept going with my gym visits – minus the playroom visits!
  12. I talked about it all with my husband – he was very supportive and understanding

While the first day school blues can be quite daunting, I found the LAST of the first day school blues to be debilitating. Is this transition something that took you by surprise too? Let me know how it worked for you in the Comments, below.

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