When Alice Owen’s daughter Isabella Kamper started school in September, the mum sensed the four-year-old was nervous to join reception being the youngest in the year group.
The 23-year-old mum dropped her off at the gates on the first day and promised her little one a surprise as an incentive if she could make it through the week.
A few days later, little Isabella left class to find her mum strutting around in a giant inflatable unicorn costume – and Alice’s fortnightly fancy dress school runs have now become an event for all the pupils.
The mum-of-two, from Hornsea in East Riding of Yorkshire, estimates she’s spent almost £1,000 on costumes altogether, including Toy Story’s Mr Potato Head, Pokemon’s Pikachu and pink-haired Poppy from the Trolls film.
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Alice says the new tradition has helped her “find meaning” in her life again, as she arrives every other Friday with music and sweets, sharing a dance with all the kids before they head home for the weekend.
The full-time mum said: “It’s a nice, positive thing, it’s amazing for the children.
“I’m usually the first one at the gates and the children are all chanting away, waiting for me to come with my music and have a boogie with them for a few minutes before their parents have to rush them off.
“I usually bring a carrier bag of lollies that my daughter shares out to the children so that it’s a little something for the weekend from each character they see.
“I’ve got a unicorn outfit, a big dinosaur, a clown doing a handstand, an eagle, Pikachu, a skin-tight Spiderman suit and a Trolls mascot shipped from America.
“The Trolls mascot cost a few hundred pounds, I took this from my savings because I thought the children would love it.
“My daughter is proud as punch, she absolutely loves it. It’s always a surprise for her to see what I’m dressed in every other Friday. It’s not just made the kids happy – it’s made me find a purpose.”
Alice has now turned up in 11 different outfits and has no plans to stop, explaining that it started when Isabella seemed to be feeling scared about starting school as the “baby of the year”.
When she went in search of a surprise to reward her daughter for making it through week one, she was looking for a toy on Amazon when she stumbled across an inflatable unicorn costume.
She bought it and admitted her partner, Chris Kamper, was embarrassed at the time but Alice was undeterred and rocked up blasting music at the school gates.
“Everyone was laughing, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing and were taking pictures,” said Alice. “My daughter came out screaming and she was shouting to all her friends ‘that’s my mummy!’
“The next Friday, I said to my partner ‘I’m going to do it again’ as the children haven’t stopped talking about it’.”
The mum began doing it every week, but has now switched to every other Friday, when she ropes in her mum and Chris to film the stunts.
Alice said she was struggling with post-natal depression follow the birth of her son, Thomas, who is now two, but now feels “alive” again knowing she is able to put smiles on the children’s faces.
“I suffered badly with postnatal depression after my last baby and I lost a lot of confidence,” she said.
“I was struggling from having my son, I took him to playgrounds then I shut myself away because he was a difficult baby. He’d scream every time we sat down.
“Seeing all the children happy, it gave me my confidence back and made me feel a lot better about myself.
“Sometimes you question ‘what am I here for?’ or ‘what’s my purpose in life’? I always do think that. Since wearing these costumes I feel alive, back to the Alice I once was.”