You know that feeling when you’re at the checkout in a shop, you’ve paid but not got the card back in your bag, then in the corner of your eye you see the cashier reach for the next person’s items, they bleep it through and those items start coming through the till and you go to pick your bag up, wondering if you’re taking too long or maybe the person next in the queue is getting a little frustrated, you hastily collect your bags and shuffle off to the side to get out of the way. Then you can stop for a second, breathe and adjust your bags ready to actually leave. Those 2 seconds were anxiousness. 

Now imagine that feeling, that hint of paranoia, that little panic, that frustration, but it’s your day off work and the weather is beautiful outside. That’s anxiety.  

Now put that in a 5 year old girl and send her off to school for a whole day when she’s had almost a year off. You get yourself a hot mess, and believe me there is no hair style known to man thatll stay nice with a full day at school AND anxiety. 

I’ll take you through a typical morning with Rose, so you might want to strap in, its going to be a bumpy ride. 

She rises from her bed all warm and crumpled, toddles to me and asks in a croaky voice “have I got school today?” which is inevitably followed up by “I don’t want to go.”  

Now the conversation will turn to a tummy ache, at this point I’m not sure if it’s just needing breakfast, the toilet or if it’s nerves. So we try to get her on the toilet and some breakfast. She usually stops eating after a few mouthfuls because her tummy hurts, so back to the toilet (she gets toast at school so aren’t worried if she doesn’t eat a full breakfast at home). Eventually, we will get her dressed and she has a little glimmer of our usual bouncy child, the tummy ache miraculously vanishes while she brushes her teeth and gets her hair done and we get a 15 minute break to brace ourselves for the tidal wave of tears.  

It’ll begin as the shoes need to get put on, she starts to get flustered and worried and needs the toilet again. It doesn’t get rid of her tummy ache, so she’ll eventually reappear slowly coming down. Her bag is all packed for her but she’ll double check everything is ready and she has to have her coat regardless of how baking hot it is, so we get that for her just in case. Then as she leaves the door her voice breaks as she says goodbye to the parent staying at home. A hug, then another hug, then another hug and then it’s tears all the way to school. Tears intensify as she is handed over to the nursery team.  

All that build up, all that emotion, but pick her up at 3pm and she’s the happiest smiley child who has had a really nice day.  

“so why not change the routine?”  

“make breakfast special”  

“make the morning more fun”  


Believe us, we’ve tried it. You might be looking for a super special parenting hack, something to flick that switch to make it all easy. But anxiety isn’t like that unfortunately, there is no quick fix. So we deal with it in 2 ways.  

1: Love and Patience. We know who Rose really is, and we understand when her anxiety is in the driving seat, so we join her for the ride, making sure she’s knows we are there for her and we will go through it all with her.  

2: Deal with ourselves: as horrible as it is to untangle your crying baby off of you to cross the threshold of school, we know she will be OK once she’s in class. We know she has nice friends, we know she is well looked after and will be happy. So we can be OK with ourselves as parents, for doing something that doesn’t feel good.  

I know anxiety, I have it myself. I hate anxiety, because I see it in my daughter, but I also know the important thing is to be there for her regardless of how she is when it attacks her, to be brave for her and show her love in all things.  

Finally, I just wanted to end this with a huge positive / Ray of hope. This last week Rose managed to go into school two days running with no tears…. For the first time ever. The pure joy I felt was indescribable.   

Clare Clements @Sensory_playtime