During the first week of September my toddler, now 3.5 years old started school. Here in the UAE the kids start school at the early age of 3ish, depending on what time of the year they were born. The first adjustment that myself, as a South Africa mom, was that fact that they started so young, here was my baby waltzing off to school, wearing a school uniform on top of it, at such a young age when we only started school at 6 years old. We are encouraged to drop them off at the door of the classroom, turn around and not look back, gulping down that lump in your throat and the parents reassuring each other every thing will be fine. The second adjustment was that the school year started in September, we are so used to our school year starting in January after a nice long Christmas holiday, although I will admit that the June summer holiday was long enough, thank you very much and the third was how the school organised their orientation days.
Whilst a lot of moms are stay at home mommies, there is a large number of us who aren’t, and it is not a privileged that we have either chosen or can afford, especially with the rising living costs in Dubai at the moment. The kiddies had four orientation days, one the first day our half of the class had to be dropped off at 10:30 in the morning and collected at 12:30 sharp, the second morning they had to be dropped off at 7:30 and collected at 9:30 and so the days alternated. Being a working mom with a hubby who has very little flexibility on his comings and goings this was a bit of a logistical nightmare, but what can you really do? Thankfully it was only four days of havoc because there was no way that I was going to have someone else pick him up from his first few days at school. So I guess we rolled with the punches but it also highlighted something to me that, in general, most interactive sessions between parents and schools are only scheduled during working hours, yes I understand that working hours means teachers hours as well but in an environment in Dubai where many of the parents are working, very little consideration is taken for their work timings.
This arose many times when my toddler was in nursery as well, we had to miss a few of the parent teacher meetings due to scheduling conflicts. But its not only school, its toddler classes or play groups as well. While there are so many groups that can be found encouraging moms and tots to join for yoga (Im faaar to inflexible for yoga but I like to think there is a possibility one day) or art classes during the week, try looking for over the weekends and your options dry up very quickly.
Yes, I know it is my choice to be a working parent, I have heard the lecture many times, and Im certainly not bashing stay at home mums, but should just because we work be a reason not to have more options other than the 9-5? Our group of friends got to chatting the other day and we realized that if someone opened up a baby gym offering classes for moms and tots with activities over the weekend they would make a killing because it would be filled with working moms.
So left with our choices we fill our weekends with art classes in our lounge, build tents and realize that time spent with our littlies can be special within the sanctity of our own home but that is great for a few hours and then my toddler starts bouncing off the walls and we need to get out the house and I do try my best not to head to a mall of some sort but often in the summer heat we are often left without a choice.
So we are three weeks in to our new school year and while the adjustments have taken quite a lot of getting used to, early mornings, PE classes, show and tell (yes at the age of 3) and a few bumps and bruises here or there; I am very happy with how he was fitted in to his new schedule and the school is really doing wonders for him. Although this morning I was driving to work after dropping him off when I realized that I would be doing this for the next twelve years of my life and I groaned because sleeping late ever again just became a non existent reality!