Well, we did it!
While it's fresh in my mind, here are some tips for you to survive this experience in the future!
- Talk about first day of clothes outfit BEFORE the morning. I usually am super proactive and thinking ahead, but I just didn't really go over this part with my son. Well, fast forward to half hour before we need to leave for the first day of school and he decides he's not into the adorable matching shirt and shorts I picked out... it could have been a big meltdown that we could avoid by picking it out the night before and talking about it, even trying it on. My lesson: do it sooner, but also LET IT GO. Who cares what they wear as long as they look nice and are comfortable.
- Take it slow. No rushing. It's already a busy day, nobody needs added chaos or stress in the mix, least of all the Kindergartener, but certainly not you as the emotionally ready to snap anyway Mama. So take it slow. Wake up a half hour early yourself if you need to. Have everything done the night before - backpack packed, lunch ideas ready, snack box packed, lunch money ready, etc.
- Arrive early to school. It's SO busy! Everybody trying to see their kids off, busses, teachers talking to you, asking questions, giving directions, people taking pictures, etc. We purposely left and planned to arrive a half hour early at school. I'm SO glad we did this! It really made our morning SO much better. We slowly arrived, got out of the car, focused entirely on our little man, answering questions, pumping him up about the day, the playground, etc. We met the principal right away because we were practically the first ones to arrive. We could take it easy, go slowly, take it all in, which was so nice for all of us. We took tons of great pictures in front of the school, that we would not have been able to take a half hour later because it was so crowded. As soon as the teacher arrived and more students, the kids lined up and we were sort of on the sidelines to the game at that point, so I'm grateful we spent time as a little family with our Big Kindergartener before he went off into school.
- Do something for YOU. Self-care is super important, particularly as a mother. You will have all kinds of emotions on this day. If you cry, cry. If you have questions, ask them. If you're worried, say so. It's ALL GOOD. Let yourself feel whatever you're feeling, even if it feels crazy. Be gentle with yourself. After I left my son at Kindergarten and had sobbed hysterically for like 5 minutes with my husband, as I watched him leave me... I was fine after that. I was proud and happy, really. But exhausted emotionally! So I dropped my daughter at preschool afterward and then went straight to my favorite store to pick up my favorite salad for lunch with chocolate cookie on the side. I took it slowly going back to work. I called a friend, who talked me through the crazy emotions. At work I talked openly with everyone who asked about what it was like, instead of quick one-word answers. It's OK to lean on others and share your experience. It's what makes we moms understand one another and feel supported. Take care of you!
- Plan a low key evening afterward. You will be excited, so it's great to celebrate with an ice cream cone or something, but skip the dinner out or big party! Kiddos are exhausted after their first day at school. They have tons to say, too, which is so exciting. When I picked my son up the first afternoon from school, he talked nonstop for 15 minutes while I stood outside the car just listening and taking in all of his excitement, decreasing my worries with every little thing he said that he loved (no nap! recess! running around! cubbies! new friends! chocolate milk at lunch!) Avoid rushing off to soccer or dance class or doctor's or something. Be present, in the moment, it only happens once. Take it all in. Take pictures. Take video! That's what I wish I'd had... video of my son talking about his first day. I'll remember it forever in my mind, but I wish I could have shared it with my husband in a video later. Do something low key as a family, just talk and hang out that night. So many exciting things to talk about!
- Remember your child's excitement is important or the nervousness will pass. So will yours. If your child is super psyched about this new adventure, embrace that, focus on that, live it up, talk about it, and be excited with him. It's OK to show him you're sad and going to miss him, but try to refrain from sobbing uncontrollably until he's safely in the school and having fun and you can have your moment. If she's nervous, reassure her, be in that moment with her as the constant, comfortable support she needs. Your child may scream and cry and not want to go, that will pass, I promise. Your child may love it so much he runs inside daily and you're left wondering why he doesn't miss you?! There will be a tough day sooner than you think and he'll need you, so just roll with the punches. Regardless of how you all are feeling about this transition, you'll be just fine, happy even, I promise.
Good luck in Kindergarten!