Of all the things that can overwhelm us in life, the mental load has…
It’s hard to believe we’re at the start of another school year. If you’re anything like me, you’re all school-holidayed out and are ready for some structure back in the family’s days.
This year, I have both kids heading to ‘big’ school: Harper in Year 1 and Willow in Kindergarten (or Prep, if you’re in Queensland).
From a practical point of view, I’m ready. I’ve got the uniforms sorted, the bags and lunchboxes and hats and shoes and library bags and stationery and socks and hair ties and drink bottles.
But emotionally, I’m so not.
It’s the start of a beautiful new chapter in my children’s lives, and for our family unit. I’m excited to see them grow and learn and thrive, and to get to know them as they discover their place in the world, their interests, their capabilities, their friends.
But they aren’t little anymore. The ‘little kids’ phase is over, and it’s bittersweet. Us mamas have to loosen our grip. Let go, just a little.
If you or your kids are feeling emotional ahead of starting school, here are some lessons I learned from last year with Harper’s first day, which I will be clinging to this year as we send Willow off too.
In the lead-up…
- Get organised early: Nobody needs a last-minute scramble to the shops! Ensure you have everything bought, washed, labelled, and ready to go ahead of time. (Don’t forget to use your Back to School Vouchers if you’re in NSW.)
- Plan your routine: Write out your morning routine and stick it on the fridge. Explain how it will work to your child, so there are no surprises on the day. If bedtimes have relaxed a bit over the holidays, start implementing their usual bedtime a week or two before. TIP: My Steph Pase Planners magnetic organisers are perfect for this!
- Journal: Write down how you’re feeling. This not only helps you process your emotions, but will be so special to look back on in years to come.
On the day…
- Allow plenty of time: Rushing leads to stress, so allow plenty of time for breakfast and getting dressed calmly, taking photos before you leave home and at school, traffic and finding a park, and getting the child settled. TIP: Ensure your phone or camera is charged!
- A quick goodbye: When it’s time to leave, stay light and positive and say goodbye quickly. If they’re upset, leave them in the care of their teacher. They will be fine! If they aren’t upset and barely give you a wave, don’t take it personally! This is a good thing.
- Keep the tissues handy: If you’re like me, you’re gonna cry! Try your best to keep it together in front of the kids, especially if they themselves are anxious or upset, but let it all out when you’re back at the car. Nobody is going to judge – you certainly won’t be the only one.
- Celebrate: You reached a huge milestone in your child’s life! Acknowledge what a moment it is for you too. If you can, take yourself out for a coffee after drop-off, with your partner, parents, friends, or just by yourself. Congratulate yourself. You did it!
In the lead-up…
- Let them choose their gear (or some of it, anyway): Kids don’t have a lot of control over their own lives, and this is one area where they can feel in charge and comforted in a new environment by familiar and enjoyable items.
- Have a practice run: I’ve had teachers tell me they’ve seen kids go without eating because they couldn’t open their lunchbox and were too scared to ask for help! So before the first day, make up a lunchbox and pack their bag. Get them to carry it around for a bit, then sit with them as they eat. Explain what’s for recess and what’s for lunch. Make sure they can operate all containers, packets, and drink bottles, and know how to pack it away when they’re finished.
- The night before: Read a book or watch a show about starting school, and tell stories of your first day. If they have older siblings or cousins, get their input too. Get your child’s help laying out their uniform and packing their bag. TIP: Pack a spare pair of undies in their bag. Reassure them that they probably won’t need it, but it’s there in case of an accident.
On the day…
- Pack lunch together: Let them choose their fruit or sandwich filling, and get their help packing it. Anxious kids might feel better if they know what’s coming.
- Something special after: Make a plan to do something nice at the end of the school day, which they can look forward to. Go for a swim, go to the park, grab an ice cream … something that celebrates their big day!
Wishing you and your little ones all the best for their big day! We’ve got this! xx
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