It’s almost here! Your child starting school for the very first time. The day you’ve been a) counting down with excitement b) breaking down in tears over every time you’ve thought of it c) having actual panic attacks about. Well, don’t worry, I’ve been there too. And will be there again this September with Godivy, my middle child. Because I handled it TERRIBLY with my first, I’ve put together a list of things to do and things NOT to do. So you fare better than I did. This post was written in partnership with Andrex®.
Don’t make a huge deal out of it. Prepare your child for what’s ahead by all means but don’t go on about it so much that you both think the world is about to end. The more hype there is, the more anxiety there will be (for you especially). Talk about school in a fun way, not in a ‘THIS IS THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE’ kind of way that leaves you both shaking in your new school shoes.
When the time comes to leave nursery, go gracefully. Don’t cling to your child’s keyworker’s leg and beg them to let you stay. Being escorted off the premises is not how you want to be remembered, is it?
Do work out your new ‘school’ routine and practice it ahead of the first actual day. Lay out breakfast the night before, if it helps. Hey, eat it the night before, if it helps. This level of preparation will probably only last a week (if you’re anything like me) but at least you’ll be on time for that first week, when first impressions count.
When the first day arrives, keep your cool. Go easy on the photos. One traditional photo standing at the front door is enough. Do NOT walk behind your child taking a video of their every step to the school gates, narrating every emotion running through your veins. This is NOT Terms of Endearment. You are NOT Debra Winger. You’ll see your child in a few, short (painfully long) hours.
Do mention any worries to your child’s teachers. If you’re worried about anything at all, have a quiet word with your child’s teacher. There is usually a few minutes at the start of every day to flag anything up. If, for example, you’re worried about your child’s toilet habits at school, they can’t wipe their bottom or they’re not great at washing their hands, just say. Remember Andrex’s Clean Routine and keep practicing it during those first few weeks at school to ease the transition. Remember, this is the first time lots of children will be going to the toilet more independently.
Do NOT cling on to your child. If your child is NOT phased by starting school then why the hell are you? You’ve raised a confident, independent child who is ready for school. Hooray! Well done! Don’t let the side down now by hanging onto their leg in agonising denial. See no. 2 above.
Make a run for it, never look back. When the time comes to say goodbye to your child, do it confidently and happily. Then, get yourself out of there so you can have a good old sob around the corner, out of the sight of your child (and all the other parents, who will be doing the exact same thing, just on a different corner. Unless you’re one of the mums who has just offloaded your last child to school. In which case you’ll be rejoicing and doing some sort of celebratory dance whilst grinning from ear to ear and drinking gin.)
Do take a box of tissues. For the above.
Do keep yourself occupied. If you’re going off to work, you won’t have any choice in this, probably a good thing. If you’re going home after that first drop-off, keep yourself occupied. Now is a great time to do a menial task like catching up on all the hoovering you haven’t managed to do over the past four or five years. Do NOT sit there looking at the clock, listening to sad ballads on Magic and counting down the seconds until you’re reunited with your child.
Repeat 1-9 daily and have faith. The school transition is not easy for many. It took me a good couple of months to fathom it, get our routine in place and reach a point where Beaver and I were happy in the mornings. But we did get there eventually. And this time with Godivy? Well, I’m obviously a pro and clearly going to ACE it. Hahahahahahahahaha. (Bet I sob even more. Oh my god, I’m welling up at the very thought. Someone help me, please…)
Good luck to all of us going through this, for the first time or again. It does get easier, I promise! More over on Facebook and Instagram. And don’t forget Andrex’s super useful ‘Countdown Chart‘ recapping all the essentials from meeting the teacher to getting school uniform to good toilet hygiene.