It’s nearly the end of the summer holidays and the year has absolutely flew! This time last year we were getting ready for our eldest to start reception and I was an emotional wreck! I wasn’t ready to “let her go” and found myself lying away at night worrying about “what if she doesn’t make friends” “what if she doesn’t know where the toilet is” or “there’s so many children how will they know she’s eaten enough of her lunch” I look back now and it makes me smile but at the time it was genuine concerns and I kept looking at my calendar counting down the days “I had my baby left” and wishing the time would just slow down. Of course I put on this brave face to our eldest talking about how exciting it was going to be and how I couldn’t wait for her first day and to hear all about her new little friends but deep down I was hoping the school would ring “sorry Mrs Reardon....we’ve made a mistake and have too many children in the class. You’re going to have to keep your Poppet home for another year!”
That phone call didn’t come.
So for those who are going through this stage of starting school or will be going through it in the next couple of years I wanted to share my tips and what I’ve learnt over the last year.
When the girls had days off nursery I wanted to spend as much time with them and fill it with activities. Ball parks, children’s activities in our local town etc and always seemed to be on the go. Looking back now I wish I had just slowed down and chilled. School day mornings are hectic “we need to go quick we’re going to be late” “I don’t want to tell you again to put your coat on” “I have no idea where your other school shoe is where did you last have it” I really miss just waking up and taking it slow. Having a conversation over breakfast that isn’t rushed. Getting dressed in our own time. Lying on the sofa watching a film is something I really miss. Make the most of those days where you feel you haven’t done anything. While you enjoy your last week or so soak everything in!
This is especially worth remembering if you have a year or so until school. If your job allows it make the most of taking holidays in school term time. Once you’re tied into school holidays it’s crazy expensive and you lie awake thinking of all the places you wish you had gone before you needed to take a mortgage out to fund it. Seriously. It sucks!
Okay - so I’m the least organised person you are ever going to meet! I’m the one who is still packing the day we go away and doing midnight dashes to Asda to pick up all the things I forgot BUT being organised is really going to help you and your little one! Make sure you know the start date and if they are staying for the full day or half day the first week. Label up all their uniform beforehand with their name (don’t be like me and label everything up the night before and find out the stickers your bought don’t actually stick and end up with smuggled unreadable initials on the labels.) Find out the start and finish times and make sure all the forms you get sent out are completed and send back in plenty of time. Leaving it until last minute is only going to cause more stress.
Think about a rough number of how many white tops you think your child is going to go through in the first year, then double it and you’re probably half way there. I have lost count of the amount of tops that come home completely stained. I know some schools have a policy about having school logo uniform but if yours doesn’t I definitely recommend getting a cheaper version. We only have one school cardigan with the logo which I pop on for the first day of term, photo day etc. If it’s worn on any other day I’m always asked “is it a special day at school today mommy” We did have a few tears the first week because her logo cardigan had pockets and her cheaper ones didn’t and yeah....to be fair I can understand. “But mommmmmmmmy I don’t have pockets, what if my tooth falls out???” So lesson learnt - her cheaper cardigans needed pockets. Of course everybody is different and some people like having logo uniform but don’t feel pressured to. It’s also really easy to go and buy really cute playsuits for girls (perfect for them doing handstands I thought) but make sure your little one is able to get out of their uniform easily for when they go to the toilet. Same with trousers, shirt buttons and I recommend getting shoes that you know your little one is able to put on themselves. Fiddly buckles are cute but can be a pain!
Get Your Child As Prepared As You Can
You can definitely help your little one by practising things like putting their shoes on, being able to zip their coat up on their own, encourage them to put their PE kit straight back into their bag to try and help with the “lost property” situation. At our school they don’t get any help when going to the toilet so making sure they are able to wipe themselves and reminders about washing their hands will help. Our eldest also enjoyed having a walk past her school before she started. We would look over the gates and she we could see the different playgrounds and she would get excited wondering which one was hers.
On The Day
I lay out all of her little school uniform the night before and I remember thinking how excited she was going to be when she saw it all in the morning. She had been really looking forward to starting school and had been counting down the days. The morning didn’t go quite as planned though, as soon as she woke up she was sobbing that she didn’t want to go to big school and she wanted to stay at home with me. Don’t put any pressure on yourself how the first morning is going to be. Our first day picture is our little Poppet in my arms, her face all red from her crying and I can tell from her little smile that she didn’t feel ready for school so we took another “first day” on her second day when she was excited to go and was happy to smile for the camera. Try and leave in plenty of time as it seemed to be really busy the first day with parents, grandparents etc all turning up to see their little ones in their uniform so give yourself plenty of time to get yourself parked up. Our school was brilliant and our Poppets reception teacher was amazing and I am sure yours will be too! Remember they do this process every year and they understand all the little worries you have and know how best to handle when a child doesn’t want to stay. My top tip is (as hard as it is) make sure you don’t show your own upset in front of your child. Stay excited and smiley and it will help put them at ease. They are going to be looking at how your respond and act to this new situation so try and be as relaxed as you can.
I saw this on a Facebook post before our little one started and I loved it. I drew a little heart on my hand and a little heart on our little ones hand. I told her whenever she missed me she should press her heart and it would send me a magic cuddle. It really helped her that first week and I remember how proud I felt when I heard “I don’t think I need my heart button today” after the first week at school.
I read something this week which I loved and it said about cutting the apron strings. Every time we hit a milestone it feels like that apron string is being cut even further but actually our apron strings are just really really stretchy which means we never actually have to cut them at all. Each time our babies hit a milestone it just stretches that little bit more but they are still very much there and there’s no need to “let go”
As your little one starts school and you both start a new journey together be really proud of yourself. You got the baby you rocked to sleep, watched crawl, encouraged to take their first step ready for school.