Starting school is a big milestone for your little one and the process starts a good year out before it actually happens. There’s enrolment, interviews, orientation and then the big day. I hadn’t considered my role in this whole process. I was focused on Spike and her transition into school life.
But now that term 1 is over, I’ve had time to reflect on my own transformation into a school mum. I have to say. I’m loving it! There’s so much to be a part of. So deciding just how involved you want to be is the first step. Running Mamá y Bebé doesn’t just happen alone so structuring my work around school can often be challenging. But Mumpreneurship does mean I can be present for day time events with careful planning.
Our school community is an inclusive and welcoming one. On week one, notices and calendars came out engaging parents and asking for participation. OMG! There’s sports activities, help with reading, tuckshop, home baking, mass attendance, P & F meetings, fundraising events, the running club, the book club and the list goes on.
Let’s just say Spike now has a separate calendar added to my google calendar just so I can keep up. The number of day time events requires serious time management and lots of for-warning particularly for my husbands schedule which includes lots of travel. Prioritisation is also a key. Events and activities are screened and assessed carefully. If we accept every invitation, we may as well move into the school grounds!
Then there’s home work: letter practice, sight words, your pet story, your family story etc etc etc. Library day is Wednesday and I have to confess, I’m the Mum that forgets! So I did 5 trips back to school out of the 10 this term to make sure Spike had her library book to give back. (I’m a bit SLOW!)
I was the eager beaver that put my hand up for tuck shop and home baking. My mother was also a working mother and tuck shop was never an option for her. I always wanted her to do it so I decided a very long time ago that I would be the tuck shop mum.
Now, I had some ideas what tuck shop was about ie lots of chatting with mums and giving your child a wave at break time. Ahhhh wrong!!! Well, there is lots of chatting with mums and seeing your baby amongs the hundreds of children but nobody mentioned the work in between. As a previous Performance Improvement Director with PricewaterhouseCoopers, I was exposed to large corporations in Mining and Transport that didn’t have half the processes I saw on my first tuck shop day. Our school tuck shop is run by a bunch of serious logistics experts that could show a thing or two to most of my past clients.
As a small school, our tuck shop doesn’t have the online ordering systems that many larger schools have. The children order the lunches the ‘old fashioned way’, in little brown paper bags with the money inserted and collected by the teachers in the tuck shop basket. The food is largely made from scratch and would pass the Jamie Oliver School Dinners test with some exception such as the the yummy drummy’s. Oven baked, crumbed ‘chicken- like’ thingys the kids seem to love!
There are six mums to each tuck shop team that are rotated 7 times each year. Each team is led by a Team leader. The team leader is responsible for making sure the six mums don’t just chat but have all food prepared in time for first break 10.15am. On my first day I was on fried rice duty, helping making pizzas, sorting sushi rolls and inserting all cold items into class cold bags ie drinks, ice cream cups, fruit (slinky apples – yet another blog to discuss in further detail!)etc.
Tuck shop is only available on Fridays so this means that the majority of the 160 children that attend our school order and require feeding by 10.15am. Needless to say, tuck shop is a well oiled machine and the six mums are sweating by the time the clock hits 10.15am. There are NO tuck shops arms on this team! Everything has been meticulously labelled to ensure absolute smooth processes. Food is ordered within 99% of accuracy to minimise waste. From 8.30am to 10.15am we do not stop! We chat yes, but the pressure is on. I’ve made fried rice a gizillion times. It’s one of my girls’ dinner favourites. But making fried rice for 20 on a time pressure is a whole other ball game.
We make the 10.15am deadline. Hooray! We earned our coffee break across the road for a great mummy chat. Was there carnage? Not quite! But I definitely broke out in a little sweat. Did I mention the smooth processes? Yes! But nubie mum me, stuffed one of them up. I forgot to put the ice cream spoons into the cold bags so at second break we had about 60 children come up to the tuck shop and ask for one. Spike didn’t fail to mention this to anyone we met that afternoon or following weekend. “Mummy stuffed up our tuck shop!” Well not quite Spike, but I’ll admit there as a little hiccup!
The best part of tuck shop was walking down the tuck shop basket to Spike’s class. She thought that was fantastic to see her Mummy at school. She kept pointing to me and telling everyone “That’s my Mummy”. That’s what it’s all for. Tuckshop is not the for the faint hearted. I’m serious. I know that sounds crazy but you’ve been warned!