I still have 2 more years before Ellie heads of to kindergarten, but I know many of you are taking that journey this year. I thought hearing a little advice from a some amazing Moms might make the first day a little easier.
I asked these Back to School veterans, If you could only give one piece of advice to a mother sending their kid to school for the first time, what would it be?
I also need to confess, anytime I’m about to lose it with Ellie, I think of these Moms and ask myself how they would handle the situation.
I never told my daughter, or later my son, “I am going to miss you” when I dropped them off for school on the first day. Telling kids you are going to “miss” them can trigger separation anxiety. Instead I always said,(and still say when I separate from my kids, now teens, for an extended period of time), “I am going to be so happy to see you!” And it is always true–I am happy to see them!
Last August, I prepared to send my oldest to elementary school for the first time. My husband and I felt the familiar emotions as we prepared my daughter for kindergarten: melancholy, excitement, nervousness. But where my husband shed a few tears over how quickly she’d grown up, I did that AND also agonized over class size, first-day outfits, if she’d make friends, which teacher was assigned to her, and if her shoes were sensible enough for the playground, but cute enough where she wouldn’t be teased.
In a nutshell? I was a basket case.
Then the day came.
The sun shone bright, the sky gleamed blue, the birds sang, but I? Was a dark cloud of apprehension. Here was my first-born off to school and I wouldn’t be there to soothe every cry, share every victory, soften every hurt. What would I do? In the end, I did what any mother does: We gathered her new things up and headed to school. Once there, the teacher encouraged us hovering parents to quickly leave so the kids wouldn’t pick up on our angst. And as I left, I watched as my daughter softly cried on the brightly-colored rug.
It took all I could do to turn around and walk out the door. I cried all day. I called my husband, I blogged about it, I commiserated with friends, and finally, finally, it was time to pick her up. My stomach was in knots as I walked into the classroom and was immediately attacked by an exuberant little girl. Her smile couldn’t have been bigger, I swear to you. She introduced me to all her new friends, waved a big goodbye to her teacher, then chattered all the way home.
It was amazing. And such a relief.
So my advice for parents sending their own children off to school for the first time ever?
Don’t freak out.
I promise it’s going to be OK.
For those first time mommies who are stressing out about sending their children to school the first time, here is some advice. I remember the feelings of anxiety, nervousness and shear fear when I first sent me son to school. I was always very proactive in helping my kids get to know other kids. I hosted a party for all the soon to be Kindergartners at my house and it helped not only the children but the nervous moms as well. It gave the kids a chance to at least meet a couple other kids before they went to school. It also gave moms an opportunity to meet other moms-because you will be spending a lot of time with these new women in your life! Some of best friends today are the moms I met in Kindergarten for my son. I had a lot of parties that first year (pumpkin carving parties, Halloween parties, holiday parties, and many many more). By hosting get togethers, it gave my kids one on one time to really get to know their new friends. They slowly cultivated their own friendships, but I just gave them a head start. Be proactive and get to know the other moms because you are all in this together.
This advice is for moms, not their crumb crunchers. The night before is KEY. Mornings are complete chaos. No amount of coffee is enough to get you through the procrastination from the night before. Trust me. Getting them dressed, fed, teeth brushed and out the door is, by itself too much to tackle. Add in making lunches, gathering their backpacks and homework, any show and tell or sports equipment and you have a recipe for walking into the school in your pajamas, hair uncombed to sign them in twenty minutes late. Not. Good. Make the lunches the night before. Have them pick out their clothes the night before. All homework should be placed in their backpacks and backpacks sitting next to the front door. Sports equipment, show and tell? By the door. It will take only one day of forgetting to do this to make you realize how important it is. Because really? Do you want to meet the principal for the first time in your pajamas?
Don’t talk when the teacher is talking and don’t try to debate when she tells you to stop talking. My kids was on his 3rd day and already got in trouble for talking too much. Politician in the making.