When the kids are all at school…..part 1


When the kids are all at school I will have more time to read.

When the kids are all at school I won’t have to rush around so much.

When the kids are all at school I will get more sleep.

When the kids are all at school I will work on those projects that have been on my to do list for years.

And this list could go on and on and on. For the last few years, saying when the kids are all at school was a pretty common phrase to be uttered by me. It was not that I wished the time away so they would all be in school, far from it.

The first week of term one this year was a roller coaster of emotions for me. I knew it would be an emotional week, but I was surprised at how sad I was. Three new firsts, big changes, in consecutive days had me at times a little overwhelmed.


This was the first day of school for our last child. He is a divine character and I have always enjoyed his company at home, so missing him was definitely going to be part of the equation.

On his first day he went confidently but quietly into the classroom, found his seat the table and started colouring in. His dad left, I stayed and took a few more photos, but realised I was going to cry so kissed him good bye before the tears started and left.

Out of view I cried some more, not really knowing why other than I felt incredibly sad. A few lovely mums chatted to me, but I really just wanted to go home.

At home I cried some more before it was time to take my daughter to a play date in a park for her new school. I was very quiet on the drive and my daughter looked a little worried. I explained that I was just sad and that was making me quiet, but everything was ok.

The park was a good distraction for me. I knew no one, so had to do lots getting to know people style talk. Before I knew it it was time to go back to school and pick up the preppie. He strolled happily out of the classroom. I just wanted to pick him up and squeeze him to pieces, but resisted the urge.

He told me small stories from his day as he ate his lunch. He somehow seemed to have grown older in a few hours!


This was the first day of school for our second son. He is quite organised, despises being late and a little bit if a worrier. He had himself all sorted with bag packed, clothes out and alarm set before he went to bed.

He was so organised and just bursting to get on with it and get out the door. I walked him out the front and to the end of our driveway and waved him off as he set off up the street to the train station. I cried as I waved, happy that he was confident in himself, sad as now travelling further to school I would see him much less each day.


This was the first day at a new school for our daughter. To get to school she will now also travel via public transport on her own. We did many,many practices during the school holidays and tried out different routes. But for the first day we made the trip together.

I walked with her into her classroom, met her teacher, watched her organise her locker and find her desk. She looked nervously happy and I felt the tears forming in my eyes so I knew it was time for me to go.

The school were putting on a morning tea, but I needed to take some time to compose myself before I could join in. I thought about skipping it but was glad I didn’t as I met some lovely mums.

After the morning tea, I made my way back home on public transport. Sitting on the train, it occurred to me I was going home to an empty house. This made me sad and I cried a little again. I knew everyone was well settled and prepared for there challenges of this year, but the change was so dramatic for me.

Arriving home, I had to put on loud music as I couldn’t stand the quiet. I had so many things I could have possibly done in the 1.5 hours before the preppie finished – washing, cleaning,work, but I had the urge to bake so did that.

After picking up the little one up at lunch time, we had lunch together and chatted about his day. I felt exhausted and he looked tired too so I asked him if he felt like an afternoon nap. I read him a story and we had a nap in my bed together for about 45 minutes. I know there will not be many more of those left.

Monday and beyond

I had gone from walking four children to school each day and having one walk back with me, even if it was just to kinder, to only having two walk to school with me and no one walk home with me. Well I have the dog and we run home together, but it is still very different.

The older three children have all left the house by 7.40am and are not home before 4pm at the earliest, so they are away from me for much longer. This has taken some getting used to.

In fact term one was just one big period of adjustment for me. All this extra time I thought I would have with all of the kids at school, didn’t quite pan out the way I thought it would for most of term one.

The last week of term one and now a couple of weeks into term two and I starting to find some rhythm to my days. Often I still feel a bit all over the place and a bit lost at times, but writing down my week recently has really helped me get a handle on how I can now effectively use the hours when the kids are all at school, so I can be with them more when they are home.

Have I ticked off the list, those things I was going to do when the kids are all at school? Not quite yet, but I can see it will start to happen more this term. Chatting with other mums who have all their kids at school, they all tell me a very similar thing. It take at least one if not two terms to find your feet with your new circumstances.

And that is the reason why I have called this post When the kids are all at school…..part 1. I will share again at the start of term three how I am finding my daily life now that the kids are all at school. Hopefully once I am used to the kids all being at school, I will find the time to tick off some items from my list.

Did you have your last child start school this year?  I would love to hear how it going for you. 




  1. Mia says

    Thanks for your candour. A lovely post. I haven’t had to face this moment yet, next year for me. I’ll stay tuned for part 2.

  2. Aurora says

    As a full time working mother I often fantasise about how my life would be if I was home full time and my kids were all at school. I have had various stints at home with small children, so the idea of being in your position is like a siren-song with the promise of a clean and organised house with me-time thrown in. But I am coming from the perspective of someone who currently has a very definite structure and identity which is wholly apart from my role as mother – and as always, when you are on the outside looking it is different. Thank you for this insight into the emotions being in your position conjure up – it is important that as mothers we acknowledge the differences as well as the commonality in our situations.

    • says

      “that as mothers we acknowledge the differences as well as the commonality in our situations.” -so true Aurora, thank you for sharing your perspective.

  3. says

    Thank you for sharing and being honest about the tears. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who cries. It’s certainly an end of an era, but I hope you learn to be happy in the changes… Much love from a non mum!

  4. Jan says

    I loved reading this and can totally relate to your mixed emotions….I don’t think my husband “got it” and yes I had tears and emptiness too (mixed in with a sense of awe at their growing up). I threw myself into a h eath and exercise program starting week 2 term 1! Now finding my feet again for term 2 after the holidays and having my daughter home sick for several weeks last term. Look forward to your part 2!

  5. says

    Yes my 4th went off this year. The “When the kids are all at school…” list have all pretty much been the opposite for me. Im waiting to get through this term to “get my feet”. Its more now that I can do it more efficiently with it just being me.
    I am slowly getting my feet again.

  6. Theresa says

    Oh Bless! Can totally relate to all this, it took me a year to find myself again after youngest started prep. I too love to bake for them & share love after school with home baking & chats. High school sounds so different..love this post.

  7. Phoebe says

    I so relate to this, my youngest started school in September 2013, and at the time we were moving so lots of things were changing so I didn’t have to focus too much on my daily empty nest. Now, six months later, the flat is in order, we are settled and the kids are all happy in their school and I’m bored… I have a craving to go back to work, but my youngest only goes in the morning, and they all come home for lunch, so at the moment without outside childcare arrangements it won’t work. I really loved looking after my 3 before they started school, we enjoyed all the fun in the park, the mother and toddler groups. They were ready to go to school, and I am happy for them, but I am somewhat lost!! It’s like being at a crossroads in life, and not knowing what to do, in a way I wish I could savour all the extra time and enjoy myself, but I can’t help feeling very lonely… Can’t wait for the next part to see what you do and how it’s working out for you too.

  8. Nicola McGowan says

    Thank you so much for posting this Nic. I had to make my husband read it so he could see that it is not only me that is finding it hard to cope with the quiet of the house and the changes that mean no more little kids under foot. How I miss that time already and I still sometimes burst into tears, wishing someone was home with me. I stand still, frozen, knowing there are millions of things to do but can’t do them. For those not there yet I’d like to quote IKEA (of all things!): “The days may seem long but the time is short.” Embrace it. It’s great. And I too am looking forward to the next instalment – I think you’ll be much more on your feet by then.

  9. Nicki says

    Oh this made me well up! Having homeschooled one or both of my kids for the past 12 years, my youngest started school last September. Like you I was so sad! It took a while to get used to but it helped to know he was happy in his new school. Eight months along and things are great. My son is still enjoying school. I have taken up exercise again an the house has never been cleaner. I am slowly chipping away at my “When the kids are at school…” list. I enjoy the fact when the kids get home I can concentrate on them completely, something that was a rarity before.

  10. Alicia says

    Yes, can so relate. My youngest of 3 went to prep this year and I was very emotional and a bit lost. People kept asking me what i was doing with “all my time” and I couldn’t really answer. I think I was just taking longer to do things and became quite disorganised with all my time – popping to the shops for food every few days, wasting time online and pottering around at home. This term I am becoming more organised, dedicating 2 full days to work (I work from home) – instead of a bit everyday. Doing a big food shop for the week. I have just enrolled myself in a language class which I was really scared to do but 2 weeks in am loving it. Friends have also told me it can take half a year to really get yourself sorted so we should go easy on ourselves. I am trying to have a bit of nice me time everyday too – even if only reading a book for 15 mins!

    • says

      I think I was taking longer to get started and taking longer to do things. Feel I am just starting to get past this. Definitely take time to read a book – I am!

  11. Molly says

    Thanks for sharing. Mind you, I would be Mrs Worry-Wart if my kids were catching trams & trains to & from school so you are an incredible lady!
    I totally understand you – my last one started prep last year and I didn’t know how to be at home without mothering that I threw myself into full time work as a distraction, but that presented itself with other issues- like a messy out of control house for my kids and husband & not having time with them as there’s too much house work & cooking to do when they are all home in the evenings. I cried and felt like having another baby!! But this year it’s different. It took me about a year to get used to the quietness – even isolation. It’s a test to see if you can tolerate your own company for more than 6 hours a day. You learn to become calmer and quieter and to focus on preparing a peaceful home – a safe refuge for the family. But this year I’ve had a new birth of ideas for my own gifts and talents – so being blessed with time to create and compose has been awesome.
    I know that feeling of “can’t wait to pick up the kids and have afternoon tea with them”- and they are the same. They love coming home!! They even ask me all the time if they can be homeschooled, which we considered, but I need to have the freedom to work, rest and create- and they need the social stimulation that school offers (as long as its not the bullying kind of social stimulation!).
    But I agree, there’s a huge sadness that is felt about the passing of time, the preschool years suddenly gone, that felt like eternity, when it was there. Even the final year of kinder was eternal…

  12. Catherina says

    My youngest of 3 went to school this year. My eldest went 4 years ago and my middle child went last year. I work 1 day a week and I have felt rather devastated and lonely. It all seems too fast and definitely too quiet, ( I have started listening to talk back radio). I loved having all 3 children at home, enjoyed the challenges and appreciated the small amounts of respite the kinder hours gave. The adjustment to having everyone at school has felt as big as having my first child for me. I know I will settle into a routine, however, this will be an ever changing routine to fit with the ever changing dynamics of family life. I think that one of the biggest challenges of motherhood is that is that our journey is constantly evolving.