Everywhere I look fellow parents are picking out school uniforms, talking about stationery and induction days, and wondering what to spend on shoes.

It won’t be me this year. My little girl turns four in 2019, so next summer is when I will be a wobbly mess of emotions as I struggle to understand where the baby years went. 

Next year is when I will be worrying about where to buy the uniform from, and if £50 is a ridiculous price to fork out for shoes that they’ll grow out of before the first term is over. 

It’s also when I will be dreading that moment where I will be left standing at the school gates, waving goodbye to my daughter and wondering when on earth she grew so big. 

How do we miss what is standing right in front of us day after day? It’s been easy for me to pretend it isn’t coming so far, but this summer as I see fellow mamas swapping tips about starting school, I realise that I have all this to come. This really is happening, and I don’t know how I’m going to cope. 

I told myself that I had oodles of time at home with her, that we have all of the time in the world. But the truth is I don’t. These first few years have been the fastest of my life. 

Redundancy came out of the blue for me earlier this year, and yet in many ways it was fantastic timing, because it has given me the opportunity to spend more time with both of my children.

This summer I feel like a countdown has begun and while I am the last person who would ever want to hold my girls back from growing up, part of me wants to freeze time and make them stay like this forever. 

I’m not sure what it is about starting school that seems like such an upsetting milestone in my child’s life. 

Perhaps to me it’s like a symbol of her moving forward towards a place where she no longer needs me as much.

I might not be changing nappies any more, but we still hang out together all day every day, finding different places to explore and chatting about funny things that happen to us on the way. She runs to me for comfort when she falls and looks to me to answer questions on what is perturbing her today. She reaches out to hold my hand as we walk and asks for cuddles daily. 

When she starts school she must learn to fight her own battles, dress herself, make decisions and figure things out on her own. I’ll still be there every single day, and we will still have all of her childhood together, and yet I cannot help but be sad to say goodbye to the baby and toddler years, however difficult they have been.

Soon she won’t want to hold my hand as we browse the shops. Soon she’ll be too big to ask for a cuddle in front of all her friends. 

Of course I am also excited to see how much she will change over the coming year.

She challenges and inspires me every single day, something that I know will not dwindle with time. In fact as time goes on, I’m sure I will be so overwhelmed by the amazing things that she will do and achieve.

But all I have to do is remember that little baby in my arms, all helpless as she stares up at me with big blue eyes, and I long to return to that time. 

That’s why I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy this year. The year before she goes to school and is no longer at my side seven days a week. The year before vacations get ridiculously expensive due to the school holidays. The year before she officially stops being my baby.