Big Schools, Bigger Choices


I sometimes look at the current fashion for curated blogs, uber-professional, styled and themed to perfection, and thank my lucky stars that I started this blog when I did.

This blog is an imperfect patchwork of memories, stories and moments.

These days, Flea and I often read back old posts together.

We snigger over the time she played Mummies and Daddies at nursery. When she fell out with her best friend in reception class. Her favourite soft toys, imaginary games, first holidays.

That time she wished she could always be a child so she could cuddle me, because by the time she was 20, I’d probably be dead.

That time she looked like this, and I wondered how I could possibly have made something so bursting at the seams with happy.


And I think to myself, that’s the beautiful thing about this blog. In all its mess and imperfection, it’s a whole childhood – our life, in words and pictures. Flea was almost three when we started blogging here – she’ll be turning 11 this year.

That gap in between 3 and 11 – it’s all here, in my words, my photos. And I’m so incredibly, ridiculously grateful for that, I can’t tell you.

When we started, it was Mother and Toddler groups, monkeys and pirates. Now it’s graphic novels, homework and Hollister.

Yes, Flea’s getting older, but not so old that I want to stop capturing those memories.

I’ve noticed this past year, I’ve started to edit what I’m sharing online, conscious that Flea and her friends are always potentially going to read what I write. But there are memories and moments I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to stop the story we’re creating here.

I’m probably dwelling on all this because right now, we’re in the process of choosing Flea’s secondary school.

It’s a big decision – I’m very, very bad at those.

On the one hand, Flea could stay at the school she’s attended since just after she turned three. It’s familiar; most of her friends will be there; it’s a good school. She could have that same school family from 3 to 18 – and part of me thinks, how lovely, she’ll feel very safe and secure, and confident.

On the other hand, she could make a move to another school, one that’s a little closer to home.

It feels scary for both of us – a total unknown – but my gut feeling is that it’s a better school for Flea. A bit more inclusive, a bit more child-centred, a bit more modern, in some ways.

Knowing this doesn’t stop me worrying about how Flea will take to such a big shift, after a year that’s already been very challenging for her, in various ways.

But I try and be positive. I tell Flea that making new friends is a really important life skill, one that will help her in her whole life. I tell her that there will be new lessons, new clubs, new sports, new friends. I tell her that in this age of FaceTime and Skype, her old friends really won’t be so far away – and I think that’s probably true.

Still… it feels big. Really big.

But whatever happens, we’ll be here, sharing it, in our imperfect little way. And in a few years’ time, I suspect, I’ll be glad I did.


20 thoughts on “Big Schools, Bigger Choices”

  1. What a lush post! My mummy blog is like that too. Some of the first posts are still some of my faves and I had no clue about blogging or SEO or editing photos back then. They were scruffy posts with mistakes and no reach, but they were as meaningful as the ones I write now. They are memories. My travel blog is much more styled and edited, but that’s why I like keeping the two separate.

    Nobody can tell you what’s best with your school decision. I’ve unfortunately got no choice but to move my daughter from her current school for financial reasons and she’s only been there a year. I understand the trepidation. It’s a gamble. Go with your gut. Never underestimate your own instincts. X

  2. Big school IS really big. There’s no getting away from it. My boy is just 6, he’s only in Year 2, and I’m already worried about which school he will go to. The “best” school in the area is a church school but we’re not church goers. Do I attend church from here to eternity to secure my children’s education, or do I go for the best of the rest? I hate that I’m already having to worry about “big school”.
    You will make the right decision for Flea. You clearly have done up till now x

    1. It’s hard that you’re worrying, we’re lucky to be in an area with lots of great options, several of which aren’t full, so it’s not that worry – but there are still worries, I promise you!

  3. I cannot wait for A and T to be that bit bigger and to have so many years of my own blog for them to look back on. I am so glad I started blogging – even just for the memories. I am sure whichever school Flea goes to she will do well, make friends and succeed at whatever she sets her heart on.

  4. I feel the same way about my blog. We started when DD was just 2 and now she’s 7. The only thing I can say about changing schools is that within a few weeks children usually find a new group of friends, a best friend, and a rhythm that makes the new school their reality and the old one a nostalgoc memory.

    1. It’s so special isn’t it? It is harder to do now, because I’m balancing her privacy with my love of blogging and capturing this stuff. But worth it.

  5. The mere thought of thinking about secondary schools scare the life out of me. I have 4years yet in that department. But my middle baby will be heading to primary school next year and we have to pick her school in November. Blogging is such a great way to capture everything.

  6. Awwww, I don’t think anyone actually realises Just how big the transition to big school is until that time arrives. It’s actually my third time, but it’s been 15 years since the last time! I’m very nervous, she won’t even be 11 until the week before she starts.
    As for the blog, I think you’ve done a great job and I’m sure Flea will think so too.

  7. Decisions, decisions… I remember the heart-wrenching feeling that I might be making the wrong decision as I was applying for the children’s reception places. Secondary school is a whole new world scary how quickly they grow up, isn’t it?).

    The way you write about Flea is beautiful, Sally. It oozes love and determination to do what’s best for her. I also love the fact my blog is a huge memory bank for me and my little ones.

  8. I’m just starting out in the blogging world and I’m hoping to be able to look back on it in the same way you are now. I’m definitely looking at yours as an inspiration!!
    I have 3 kids with the oldest being a little younger than Flea so we are currently looking a Secondary’s and practicing for the 11+. It’s really hard as even if she passes the 11+, I’m not even sure if a grammar school is the right choice for her!
    I don’t think you can make a wrong decision here, the difficulty is if your decision conflicts with Flea’s………..but that’s what mums do!! Good luck!

  9. What a lovely post. It is a tough decision but you need to go with your gut instincts on what is best for your child – you’ll definitely make the right decision!

  10. Love blogging too, and for exactly that reason – it’s an online diary. I’ve never been good at the whole style thing. Frankly I wonder where everyone else (and that includes you) gets the time from?! F is definitely gorgeously happy and you’re doing a fab job with her, so whatever decision you make will be the right one for you both. Plus, as I always say, nothing has to be forever. Not a huge fan of the ‘suck it and see’ saying but sometimes it makes sense 😉

  11. Big school is a big decision. Flea sounds like such a wonderful young lady, I’m sure she will thrive. I moved from a 3-18 school at 11 to a more local secondary where I didn’t know anyone else – I know everyone is different, but it was so good for shy little me. I look forward to reading your journey.

    This is a fab post and epitomises why I’ve started blogging again. I actually started my blog when my children were toddlers, but a bad experience made me stop. Looking back I can’t believe how preoccupied I was with the thoughts of other people – don’t get me wrong, I value the thoughts and opinions of the blogging community, but I now regret having a three year gap in my children’s childhoods missing from my blog. xxx

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *