Win The Battle – Lose the Armour

Summer 3

When we heard that we got our first choice school our family and friends were delighted.

I was numb. 

My reaction, “Great, I can now picture where I’ll be dropping my screaming child off. I hope there’s a nurturing person there that will peel him off me and give him a cuddle.”

Lots of people reassured me and I had the usual comment of “He’ll be fine”.  Maybe he will be this time, but maybe he won’t so I’ve been able to think about what I might do if he’s not.

I really thought I would feel better about sending him to school a year later but the reality was I was in a worst position.

I had scars.

The fights you fight for your child leaves scars.

My scars were talking.

My scars were teaching me to be wary, to be defensive, and to be ready for the next fight.

I’d been fighting and defending him for so long that I was constantly ready to attack.  When I realised this I decided I needed to get off the battlefield, smell some flowers and look at all that could be.

It was stealing me from the future.  School might be a place where:

  • My son grows and learns
  • His teacher is lovely and likes him
  • He makes lifelong friends
  • He becomes part of a community where he can make a difference
  • He learns things he’s never leant before
  • I might make new friends and our family might become part of a new community

He might laugh his head off, run to school, win an award, be part of a sports team or get a part in a school play.

For the last year the school has been the enemy, I’m still not happy with everything. I don’t think early years should have homework, I think they still start school too young but if I am choosing (and it is a choice) to educate my child in the UK under my local education system then they can no longer be my enemy.

I am not saying there won’t be other battles to fight. I am a lioness and I will protect my cubs.  But my current attitude is damaging…is damaging me actually.

Just me for now.

Although I am full of dread I am very positive about school to my son but currently my scars are talking.  So, it’s time to have a word with them:

A little note to my scars:

Thank you dear scars for fighting, for risking, for going against the flow.  You did it out of pure love for your child, a selfless act that other’s rarely understood. You stood tall, risked looking foolish and embraced the repercussions of such a decision. We are beyond grateful for your strength. But it is now time to stand down. Rest yourself, bask in the knowledge that you did it, you won. X x x

Today is a new day.

I choose to be excited.

I also know that on his first day of school I’ll still be in tears but I own them, they are mine and they are about me, his mum losing a little bit more of my baby. There is no other woman in the world that deserves to stand at those gates crying for that boy. That is my role. And I’ll do that with pride.

Over to you!

What dilemmas have you got about your family? Maybe you’ve found me because you too are wondering whether to delay your summer born.  Maybe you are thinking about home schooling.  Maybe you want to go back to work or just have some more time to yourself.

I can help you.

I am a Coach.

And if you are struggling with this issue or other parenting dilemmas a Clarity Call with me will help you and here’s why:

  • As you can see I truly know what it’s like to have parenting dilemmas. My role as a coach is not to tell you how I did it or tell you how you need to do it. But my experiences make my compassion for you strong. I will listen with an open heart. You will be heard.
  • I am not connected to your everyday life, although we will become connected. I don’t judge and my only agenda is to provide you with a safe speaking place so you can be empowered to make your own decisions.
  • I will be curious about what is going on in your life and help you work out what you need to do and then together we will come up with an action plan.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had decided what you needed to do AND you had a clear way of making that happen?

Free! Empowered! Excited! Relieved!

If you work with me this is what will happen.

What next?

All you need to do is email me at contact@nicolahughes.co.uk to book your Clarity Call.

Thanks for listening to my story, I’m waiting to hear about yours.

Much love

Nicola  x x

http://www.nicolacoaches.co.uk

www.fb.com/nicolahughescoaches

Instagram – @nicolacoaches

 

 

 

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The Fight

Summer 2

This time last year we knew which school we were taking our first born child to.

He was 3.

He wasn’t toilet trained and he hated being a part from me (he’d never left my side when we went to play gyms and only occasionally at play groups, he even followed me to the toilet at friends’ houses and had a hissy fit if I snuck away for a wee!!)

“He’ll be fine!” Was the reply most people gave me.

I honestly didn’t think I had a choice, I was just going to have to turn up and hope some kind person would peel him off me and I’d run away sobbing. I was terrified. Meanwhile everyone put it down to me being an anxious mum or overprotective and message kept ringing out.

“He’ll be fine!”

Somehow I discovered the Facebook group “Flexible Admissions for Summer Borns”. The people on here literally saved my sanity and gave me the strength to accept he wouldn’t be fine.

When I took ownership the problem I was able to find a solution.

We decided to fight the long and unknown battle to delay his entry to school. You are allowed to send your child to school the term after they turn 5 (CSA – Compulsary School Age) but for my child that would mean missing the whole of reception and I wanted him to have a full education-just not yet. So I fought for entry into reception at CSA.  This involves filling in a form and sending evidence to the LEA of why you want your child to be delayed.  For the record we didn’t believe we were delaying him or keeping him behind we believed he would be going with his correct cohort as he was a late August born. Born a few weeks later this wouldn’t be an issue.  But for the sake of using the correct terms in the process we were delaying him.

We were very fortunate that the head teacher and early years staff of the school we had a place at were all very supportive of whatever we wanted to do. They would support our application or they would support our son in school.

I love my children but half the time I’m not sure how good I am at parenting two children at the same time and having a 1 and 3 year old was proving tough. The thought of having them both at home for the next year was awful.  Plus the cost of an extra years childcare and finding a new pre school seemed all too much.  I was reminded that this decision was nothing to do with what was best for me or what I wanted but what my son needed.  I realised that giving him an extra year at home could quite possibly be the best gift ever. (Someone please direct him here when he’s 16 and hates me because he’s got an extra year at school to do!!!)

After two weeks of deliberating, crying, worrying, not knowing what the heck to do. We made the decision to delay him.

And so the fight began

His current Pre school didn’t support us, they said educationally he was at the right level.  They failed to see him as a whole person, they failed to see that emotionally and physically he wasn’t ready.  I was devastated.

Health professionals wouldn’t support us.  Their role was to support children in school, so if they supported our application they were saying they couldn’t do their job

Some friends and many acquaintances thought we were nuts and we had several conversations that felt we were having to defend ourselves.  We were prepared to do this as we believed people needed to understand what we were doing but also the issue was rarely talked about and I wanted others to know what was possible.  But it was exhausting.

It’s a very emotive subject. Many people we spoke to had summer borns in school or had been summer borns themselves and they were fine. I wondered if people felt like we were judging them for their decision. I was so overwhelmed with our unfolding story that I didn’t have time to judge others. We made our decision based on what we thought was right for our child. It was exhausting.

We had a tough decision to make because we wouldn’t know if we’d been successful until December. If we didn’t win he’d have to join school in January or go straight into Year one in September.  It felt like a massive risk but we decided to cross the bridge we were at. He wasn’t ready for school now.  Holding all this in our mind and not knowing the outcome until December ..was exhausting.

One of the hardest things about this was trying to prove to strangers errr I mean professionals that this was in his best interest. When he was a new born I was told by several professionals that “Mummy knows best”. When did that change?  In the last 3 years apparently I know best. And it’s taken me about 3 years and another child to realise that heck yes, I do know best about my child.

Only for it to be taken away from me.

I had a horrid fight with his previous pre-school asking for their support and I actually got the opposite. She said if she was asked then she would have to disagree with me, he was ready. I remember saying to her that she didn’t even know him and had never taught him she was just the poor soul that had been chosen to speak to me (probably because no one else dared!!)

How on earth could a stranger choose his fate?

How on earth could anyone challenge what I know about my son?

Had he been permanently attached to their sides?

Had they watched him meet all his milestones much slower than everyone else?

Did they live with this sensitive and emotional little soul?

The application was written and it was time to wait.

3 professionals would be given our report and they would make a decision.  We were invited to a panel in December to ask and answer questions regarding this. Once we’d submitted the report we were able to get on with living our lives and our mantra really was, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”  However, the week before panel I wasn’t sleeping, I was having panic attacks and generally feeling pretty awful.

Head of admissions phoned me a few days before the panel,

“You need to hear what I am saying, 3 professionals (including an educational psychologist) have read your report and have all unanimously agreed that your son needs another year at home, you don’t have to come to panel. Do you understand what I am saying? They agree with you!”

She really understood what we had been through and wanted to make it clear that my fight was worth it. I am so grateful that she took the time to speak to me.

Leeds LEA are unusual actually. Many LEA’s do not support parent’s wishes to delay and this is a massive issue we are fighting in government at the moment.  If you do get agreement you need to get the head teachers permission of the school you want to go to and many many head teachers do not give their consent.  My story has been a nightmare but there are other parents going through this who have had bigger battles to fight.

But that day we celebrated.

All was left was to start the process of applying for schools all over again and hope we got back into our original school!!!

Don’t go anywhere, Part 3 explains how I got over all of this and how I can help you.

Much love

Nicola xx

http://www.nicolacoaches.co.uk

www.fb.com/nicolahughescoaches

Instagram – @nicolacoaches

What if it’s Not Okay?

Summer 1

Ever been really worried about something and your lovely friends tell you not to worry and that it will all be fine?

I am assuming that this happens to you a lot. I’m also assuming that you say it to your worried friends and I’m also admitting that I’ve said it too.

So there is no judgement in this blog.

We all say it!

Did you realise telling someone not to worry and that it will be fine is disempowering?

We think we are being kind and caring but actually we are minimising their experience of this problem.

Here’s a question:

What if it’s not ok?

What if you tell your friend not to worry about her biopsy and it turns out she has aggressive cancer?

What if you tell your colleague not to worry about the restructure but she gets made redundant?

You took away the opportunity to get strong and make a plan.

There is another way.

You can ask questions that help your friend talk about the problem, face the fact it may be awful and most importantly help her realise she has to do some problem solving.

Life is not a bed of roses and sometimes we have hard decisions to make and dark roads to walk down.

My Dilemma

I was dreading my summer born boy going to school just after he’d turned 4 because he wasn’t ready, he wasn’t toilet trained and he clung to me like a limpet.  Most friends told me that he would be fine.

You can read My Summer Born Story in Part 2.

Deep down I knew he wasn’t going to be fine but I didn’t know where to go with my thoughts because no one believed me.  Whenever I talked about it I was told not to worry. Everyone feels this way, everyone gets on with it, everyone is fine. The end.

When I took ownership of the problem I was able to find a solution.

You can’t solve a dilemma if you don’t truly realise you’ve got a problem.

You don’t know you have a problem if everyone says it’s fine.

Of course it’s never that simple. Many times it is fine and I am the only person I know in real life that has delayed her child from going to school so it must’ve been fine for the 100’s of parents who were worried like me last year.

I’m just asking you to think about how you could help your friends even more than you already do.

Help her open her eyes, listen with intent, wonder what it would be like to be in her shoes, voice that so she knows you’ve heard. Then wonder if there is another way.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I share my summer born story.

And don’t go anywhere until part 3 where I end the fight and tell you how I can help you.

Much love

Nicola x x x

http://www.nicolacoaches.co.uk

www.fb.com/nicolahughescoaches

Instagram – @nicolacoaches