How do you cope with the school run, when even the thought of waddling to another room makes you feel exhausted? We talk to mums about what it’s like to have a child at school when you’re pregnant.
Your eldest might have been counting down the days to starting ‘big school’. Or they might be excited about getting back to school to hang out with their friends again. You, on the other hand, might not quite share their enthusiasm if you’re battling morning sickness or feeling like you’re about to pop.
Preparation is your friend
For many mums, organisation has never been so important in helping them get out the door in time for the register. “Preparation is the key," says Helen, mum to Beth, 5, and Ethan, 5 months.
"I made sure we had the right clothes ready the night before, and checked that anything we needed like homework or reading books were in my daughter’s bag, which we put by the door," says Sarah, mum to Lucy, 5, and Clemmie, 9 months.
Say yes to help
Accept all offers, and don’t assume that people are just being polite.
"We were lucky that we had a small group of mums from my daughter’s class who insisted I could call them for lifts/taking my daughter to school and we worked out a schedule. Never underestimate how much people want to help," says Helen.
A partner or family member who can be around to help you get out the door or share drop-offs or pick-ups can be so useful. If you're still at work, look into your childcare options and perhaps flexible working. School pick-up time is not that convenient for full-time working parents.
"My husband’s work were flexible with hours and working from home," Helen adds.
If you can face it, you could line up some play dates at your house while you’re pregnant so the favour can be returned when you’ve got a newborn. It’ll also help your child make friends if they’re just starting school.
If you’re on maternity leave, your child might not see why they can’t just hang out with you at home too. You might need to give them extra reassurance, and big up all the fun things that they’re going to do. As well as all the friends they’ll play with at school that day.
You need your rest too, so don’t feel guilty about the fact that they’re at school if you’re able to be at home taking it easy.
Getting ready for labour
When you approach your due date, you might be thinking about what will happen if you go into labour when your child’s at school and you’re not able to pick them up.
If you don’t have family nearby to step in, you could ask parents of your child’s friends if they could be on hand to pick up if needed. Make sure the teacher is aware that another parent or relative might be picking up your child unexpectedly if you do go into labour.
You’ll also need to call the main school office to tell them on the day if this happens. Explain to your child that they might have an unscheduled play date around your due date so they’re not too surprised either.
Juggling in the first few weeks
It might all feel like a juggling act in the first few weeks. It’s no mean feat recovering from birth AND looking after more than one child…
"I remember one incident just as we were about to leave the house one morning. Freddie was only eight weeks old, and I was about to put him in the buggy. We were poised to leave the house when a poonami struck. It turned out it had gone through his nappy, and up his back. No chance of leaving it so we ended up being late to school. Luckily Isabel’s teacher was very understanding!" says Emily, mum to Isabel, 5 and Freddie, 12 months.
It might be worth having a chat with your child’s teacher so they know you’ve got a newborn in tow. Hopefully, they’ll understand if you do miss the school bell a few times.
Some days will be more stressful than others. You might be late, have two crying kids, forget water bottle/school bag/PE kit or realise you’re still in your pyjama top. That’s OK. Other mums at the school gates have been there too. They won’t be judging you so try not to beat yourself up either.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We offer Refresher antenatal courses for those parents who have already had at least one baby. They offer a chance to reflect and build on past birth experiences and prepare yourself for looking after your new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.