Must must must

It’s autumn holiday in Belgium. Finally, I must add.

Even though school only started the 1st of September here, eight weeks is a long time to keep going. And not just for the children, I can also really feel it. Eight weeks of rushing every morning. Eight weeks of trying not to be late. Of  getting up on time. Of getting dressed quickly. Of eating a hastened breakfast. Eight weeks of ‘we must do this and that’ and ‘we can’t be late’. The boys were really tired and weary last week. They were emotional about everything, got upset over nothing and hardly could get out of bed. I even kept them home a day and they slept and slept and slept. 
Honestly, I could feel it too. My patience was completely gone and all I wanted to do was sleep. I’d even set an alarm in the afternoon to be sure I would not fall asleep and be too late to pick the boys up again…

The holiday is well on its way and we have taken it really easy. We sleep in. Pyjamas stay on half of the day. They boys play, have fun, laugh, run, make an incredible mess, and I play with them or let them play while I read. There is nothing that we have to do. I’ts recovery time and it’s lovely. It also made me think. Why do we do this to our children? Why do they have to do so much? Why are there so many rules? Why does school start so early in the morning? Why are schools so ridiculously strict about being late, even when you have a good excuse? I never had a boss that was as strict as the schools here are. Can you imagine your boss getting upset about you being late because of a traffic jam? Or because of a unexpected sick child? As grown-ups we understand things happen.  Life is hard enough and yes, we know we are in trouble if we can’t pay our bills, but for being late at work or an appointment sometime? That is just bad luck. But I see my children grow up with a fear of being late and with a disliking for rules. They are not even four yet and it’s incredible how many things they already must do.

A solution to this is not easily found. Yes, I could keep them home till they are 6 and going to school is compulsory. Then they don’t have to do anything for the next years, except obey some very important safety rules (traffic etc.). They’d also miss out on a lot of great activities and on making friends.They would have no idea about the school rhythm and this whole discussion will start again when they are six.

What I can do is keep them home from school sometimes, just to recover. So far this often results in a ‘bad day’ together as the boys seem so happy to not have to do anything that they forget about all the rules we have at home. 

So honestly, I think things should be a bit more relaxed in our children’s lives. School could be a little less about rules and more about play. When my boys play ‘pretend school’ together at home it’s all about telling the other one what he must do or can’t do. ‘Stand on the dot.’ ‘Stand in a line.’ ‘Don’t run.’ ‘Don’t touch that.’  ‘Eat your fruit now.’ ‘Go to the toilet.’ ‘Sit down.’ ‘You can only play with that, not with this…’ 

Rules are important, especially for important things concerning safety in the house (careful on the stairs, don’t throw or play with cutlery, etc.) or on the street (never run into the street, always cross with a grown up etc.). But I also think too many rules are simply too much too handle and they will start to do the opposite. And that’s where things can easily go wrong.

Halloween-costumes everywhere

Friday was the last school day before the autumn holiday started and all children were allowed to come to school wearing a costume. The boys were quite excited and really enjoyed going to school looking like a big bird/ vampire/ flying monster with a cape. They drew a lot of attention at 8:15 in the morning cycling to school looking like this:

They were not the only class doing this though, when we walked to school it seemed all kids for all schools were dressed up. We met knights and princesses, pumpkins and dinosaurs, superman and batman, spiders and ghosts. It was great to see so many happy children. It really put a smile on my face (and on many other peoples’ faces).

Back to school

On Monday all the schools in Belgium started again after a holiday of 2 whole months. On the one hand I was looking forward to it, when the boys are in school I have much more time for my work, but on the other hand I was dreading the morning rush. Getting up early is not something any of us is very good at. And I hate being late so there is always this rush of doing too many things in too little time.

Monday went very well though, we had managed to get the boys in bed on time the night before and they were actually very excited. Even breakfast went down without a problem.

Tuesday still went very well, even though one of the boys did not manage to eat his whole breakfast. But the other one made up for this by having three breakfasts 🙂

Wednesday was difficult. They really did not want to get out of bed, so eventually we had to run to school. And this on a day that I don’t have to make lunchboxes for them, as school is finished at 12:15. Wednesday afternoon was mostly spend in bed, by all three of us yes. Zzzzzzz

On Thursday we were late again. I thought we were early but then they took forever to brush their teeth and needed one more pipi. They also cycled to school in such a way that I am sure they are holding the record for ‘slowest bicycle ride ever’.

On Friday I did not want to get up anymore. But I did it anyway, repeating my mantra ‘it’s the last day, tomorrow is the weekend’. The boys echoed my words and together we made it. They were not even the last ones in the class.

Hooray, only one more pick-up and the first week has been conquered. Weekend!

A strange Monday morning

I had the most interesting experience yesterday morning. It was the first day of school after the holidays and something very strange happened. The boys were eager to get up, go to the toilet, get dressed and eat their breakfast. Everything ran so smoothly I even had time to read a story. They brushed their teeth, put on their jackets and sat down in the buggy before I was ready to leave. That’s how happy they were to go and see their teacher again.

Why is this strange you may ask? If you have (had) toddlers, you already know the answer. This sounds like a surreal fairy tale. Toddlers are not known to not make a fuss. My boys are famous for their episodes about what to wear. They pick out their own clothes, they decide which shoes to wear and which jacket. If what they want to wear happens to be in the laundry… you can imagine the drama!
They also must refuse their breakfast at least 87 times before they take an unwilling bite. They also feel the need to run away every morning before I manage to get them to brush their teeth and make it a habit to take off their shoes right before we leave, because they decided on other shoes. So yes, it was a strange Monday indeed.

I am happy to report though that everything was back to normal this morning. I had to chase them down to get them in the buggy, both upset that there was no time for me to read a story. I had to rush to get to school on time and stuffed the last bites of their breakfast sandwiches in their mouths at school and had to drag them to their classroom, before they realised they actually like being there. Sigh. I wish toddlers would understand cause and effect already.

First day of school

Today was their first day of school. Such a milestone! (In Belgium kids can start at 2.5 years old already.)
I am pretty sure I was more nervous than anyone there.
Boys did absolutely great, but the first thing they said when we came to pick them up:
‘Mommy, I want to sleep.’ Luckily milk and cookies were also good.
Poor guys. This was just one day. Next week will be their first full week: they will be utterly exhausted.