Primary school new starters: Why the thought of my son starting school in Sussex is making me all weepy

Submitting my son’s school place acceptance form this week was a massive wake-up call.

Sure, I knew he was going to school this year, but it all seemed a bit abstract when we were waiting to see where he’d got a place.

Now, I’m filling out forms to let his future school know about his likes and dislikes, and suddenly it all feels very real.

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It’s made me very aware the Thursdays and Fridays I’ve enjoyed with him thanks to working part-time are numbered, and it’s making me feel incredibly weepy.

Dinosaur Island at Southwater Country Park is probably one of the best play parks in West Sussex

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When my daughter started school almost four years ago, I was on maternity leave with my son. Not to suggest I would miss her any less, because that’s 100 per cent not the case (I certainly cried buckets then, too) but because I had the distraction of a new baby and I knew in the future I’d be doing it all again, it somehow made sending her off to school a little bit easier to take.

But this time is different. My husband and I won’t be having any more children, so this is the last time I’ll wave one of my ‘babies’ off at the school gate for the first time. It is going to be so hard.

Not only does it mark the end of an eight-year era of having a child to look after on my days off during the week, but it is yet another massive parenting milestone.

Katherine will be the one holding all the tissues and crying like a baby

No longer will I have any pre-school children. No longer will I get to enjoy play areas, soft play centres and family attractions in the relative quiet of term-time weekdays. My children are growing up, and as much as I may not be ready for it, it’s happening whether I like it or not.

Because that’s the constant agony and ecstasy of parenting, right?

The reflective sadness of looking back on another phase or stage that is coming to an end or has passed, while also excitedly anticipating the next chapter and future joys and adventures.I know my son is going to love school. He’s a sociable little chatterbox who is already showing signs of loving to learn, but I sure am going to miss the special time we have together, just as I missed the time spent with just me and my daughter.

(I’m actually having to wipe tears away while writing this. My husband would say this is no great surprise coming from a woman who once cried at a One Direction video. I was full of pregnancy hormones at the time, but that’s probably no excuse given so many things could be a trigger to my sappiness since having children.)

As much as it’s tempting to wallow in my sentimentality, I’ve decided what I actually need to do is make the most of our last few weeks together. So, in that vein, I took him to the waterwise playground on Thursday and we hit Southwater Country Park near Horsham to go to Dinosaur Island on Friday.

If you haven’t followed the dinosaur footprints to this gem of a park yet, you’re missing out. There’s so much for them to do there, plus a good café with plenty of outdoor seating. For those feeling brave, or hot, there’s also a beach area where kids and adults can paddle in the lake.

We spent a lovely few hours just playing in the park in the sunshine, and I discovered I can, just about, fit down the slide (middle-age spread hasn’t spread too far then!)

We shared a picnic together, and while there was nothing extraordinary about the day in itself, I’ve filed it away in my memory bank to get me through those first few lonely weeks in September (sob, sob!).

More days out are planned, and National Trust will likely be involved. All that I need now is for that promised heat wave to materialise. Come on British weather, you can do it. In the meantime, you’ll find me ordering a job-lot of tissues. Have a feeling I’ll be needing them over the next few months.