It feels like just a few days ago you were bringing them home from the hospital – now they are off to face a new adventure – without you by their side. And whether it feels like it right now or not – you’ll both be okay – probably better than okay.
I may not be an expert – but I’ve been through this once (as my oldest started junior kindergarten 2 years ago). And for the purposes of this blog – we will pretend I know a thing or two about what this new adventure will bring for you and your little.
Let me start by saying – you have no doubt over prepared. You have likely researched every lunchbox, backpack and shoe brand out there. You have probably purchased a wardrobe for your 3-4 year old that is more stylish than ANYTHING you have ever bought for yourself. You have probably pinned so many lunch and snack ideas to ensure your child is well-nourished for their long day of learning. And, you have most definitely labelled every single thing you are sending with them to school.
So I will break it to you gently….
Kindergarteners don’t care who has the “best” lunchbox, backpack or shoes – brand names do not matter. Most of their classmates will usually love their stuff if it’s a colour they like, a beloved character, and for sure if it lights up when they run. I bet if you ask any 4 year old what brand name lunch box or shoes their friends wear they won’t know the answer. But, they sure will remember if someone has cool shoes that light up when they walk – I learned that one the hard way. So take some stress off yourself. Buy what your child likes and what you can afford. It’s kindergarten for pete sakes – not high school.
Wardrobe is a complicated one and it doesn’t really matter what you buy them or how much you spend – I give it 2 weeks tops and most of their clothes will end up with some unremovable mystery stain. Don’t stress – Kindergarteners also don’t care about stains so don’t run out to buy them new clothes – they can continue to wear those mystery stained clothes to school – no one will notice. But beware – there will be something labelled “uncool” by a classmate or two that your child will then refuse to wear ever again. For my daughter it was blue jeans – it took one time for a class mate to inform her that jeans were not cool for her to never wear them again. And yes – that does start in Kindergarten. But take a breather – your child isn’t stepping off the runway. If they dress themselves in clothes that don’t match with their shirt on backwards – at least they did it themselves.
Lunches, lunches, lunches. You will all have good intentions. The first week your fridge will be organized – snacks prepacked, homemade muffins, everything organic. You will spend precious time cutting their sandwiches into dinosaurs and their cucumbers into hearts. You will pack a lunch that is Pinterest worthy and that you are very proud of. Then you’ll notice that your kids don’t care if their lunch looks fancy – in fact they weren’t even aware you were cutting things into shapes. Your evenings will get more chaotic with extra curricular activities, “homework”, school forms, running around to grab socks for crazy sock day – that things will begin to slide. You will throw whatever you can together in the morning – still a balanced lunch but for sure a prepackaged processed snack every day and cute shapes – they are gone too. And you know what – your child will be just fine. They will survive. And they will either eat or not eat the same way they did when you invested way too much time in packing their food while grabbing yourself an apple and granola bar for lunch.
And labels. Yes, label some of your stuff – backpack, shoes, coat, snow pants – but don’t go crazy. I am a recovering over labeller and I will tell you one thing – it doesn’t matter how much you label – they will still lose things that never resurface – even with the label. So, don’t make yourself go insane with labelling every little thing – if it was meant to get lost – it still will.
So, as you prepare this weekend – for a new chapter for you and your little one – here are a few tips:
- Bring sunglasses the first day – these are to cover up any tears that may leak out so your little one doesn’t panic when they see you cry. Try to keep it together until you walk out the door from dropping them off – this will be the best for both of you.
- Take a couple hours off of work – maybe even the whole day. School is a big adjustment for both of you – but more you than them. Us moms tend to get a bit sappy on the first day. So, take part of the day to reminisce, enjoy a hot coffee, vent with other moms, and cry if you need to. And then pull it together for when the school bell rings. Because that child of yours is going to have a lot of great things to tell you!
- Do NOT and I mean do NOT watch baby videos or look at their baby clothes. This will only turn you or your spouse into a blubbering mess instead of being excited for them and their first day of school.
- Be easy on yourself. School is tough. There is a lot of pressure on parents to make it a perfect experience (*future post*). Just breathe. Do what you can. Don’t over-stress. Your child and yourself will be OKAY. You’ve got this, Mama!
And most of all – enjoy. It is a new and wonderful experience. You have done your best and will continue to do your best to raise your child into a lovely human being. They will make friends, they will learn more than you ever expected, they will come into their own and they will flourish. There will be tough times and challenges – but guess what? You’ve got that too! Just breathe, breathe, breathe and embrace this new journey you’re both on – it is unbelievable.
Enjoy your long weekend – and good luck on the first day! You’ll rock it!
P.S. If you’re looking for a great read – “The Kissing Hand” is one of our favourites for preparing for school.