How to deal with your child going to “real” school,
for the new parent.
You are the new parent whose child is just starting school. You have no idea what is going on, other than you are leaving your precious child in the care of complete strangers. What time will he eat? What if he is cold? Can I call to check on him? It’s more stress for you than it is for your child.
Trust me, your kid just wants to play with some other kids and get two helpings of crackers at snack time. Don’t be over-bearing, it is going to make it harder for your child to enjoy their school day if you make a long and drawn out, tearful goodbye for their first day ever. Even though you will be an hour early to pick them up, I can assure you, it’s a bigger deal for you than it is to them. My suggestion is after dropping your kid off, if you aren’t going straight to work, keep yourself busy or you aren’t going to be able to breathe.
Here are a couple tips for the parent getting in gear:
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than when you think you should get up. Consider how much time you will have in the morning to do what needs to be done. Then set your alarm forward 30 minutes, you are going to be twiddling your thumbs at the door, and drinking an extra cup of coffee if you don’t.
Set clothes out the night before. This seems obvious, but time moves a lot faster at seven in the morning. Make sure your child agrees to the outfit, because you might not see it coming, but there is going to be a fight about what to wear. The morning is NOT when you want to do that. Setting out the outfit includes socks and underwear too, it might not seem like it, but 20 minutes deciding between striped or polka dotted socks is not a good way to manage your time.
A lot of school preparation means doing things the night before. Having homework done, agenda books signed, papers read, checking for those ever-present love notes (that will come later). Morning has to be strictly reserved for you to make your coffee, and your child to eat their cereal. That is all. If your child is bringing a lunch from home, make it the night before and put it in the refrigerator. Include a sweet treat in there, and a well hidden, carefully placed, camouflaged, cryptic note for them to find. It is just as important for your child to know you are thinking of them, as it is for their lunchtime friends to NOT know you are thinking of them. I know this from experience.
Place a note on your front door to remind you that you made a lunch the night before, and that your child needs it for sustenance. You will leave it in the refrigerator.
Make your child use the bathroom before getting in the car. Some children don’t have a problem with this, but school aged kids are just learning how to pick on their friends, and bathroom humor is still extremely funny to them. If you don’t want a call halfway through the school day from the school nurse saying your child has a “stomach ache” and you have to come pick them up, you will heed this advice. I don’t need to go on any further do I?
Get in your car, and check behind you twice before you pull out of your driveway. Everyone, including you, drives like an idiot first thing in the morning.
I suggest putting on the radio for the car ride to school. It is a lot harder for your little one to come up with an excuse of why they can’t go to school while you are singing “Creedence” at the top of your lungs.
Ok, so you are at school. That thing you do, with the licking your fingers and wiping of crumbs? Yeah, that thing. It was gross and embarrassing when your mom did it, and its gross and embarrassing now. Please, stop. Carry some wet wipes if you must.
School etiquette is important so, holding hands, big hugs and kisses goodbye are on an ever-changing list of things that are and are not allowed. Be aware. If “Little Timmy” sees you give a big kiss to your “Precious Johnny”, the whole year he might be known as “Kissy Face” and that, well that just can’t happen. I’m dead serious.
If you are still worried or nervous, I can assure you, kids adapt. They make friends, they work together, and they are all in it together. As Tom Waits once said “Misery’s the River of the World,
Everybody Row!” Even if your kid doesn’t like the first day, week or month (heck I didn’t really like it ever) it’s going to get better, manageable, and easier. All the other kids hate it there too, and that’s a bond you create in school. If you are worried now, just think of what you have to look forward to: their first love, their first heartbreak, their first car, finals, college, and it just goes on! But don’t worry, we went to school, and we turned out fine… didn’t we?