A year ago my son started primary school, and I spent most of the summer holidays fretting over whether I had all the right items (I didn’t) and whether he would be okay. As I’m assuming I’m not the only person in the world to worry about this milestone, here are a few bits of advice.
You will need tissues
No, you will. Yep, even the person reading this thinking ‘but I’m not sentimental, I didn’t even cry when I gave birth’. You will cry. It may not be the day they actually start school, that day you’ll be so focused on getting to school on time and remembering everything you’re expected to bring. It may be the night before. It may be the week after they start when they suddenly walk in and look confident. It may even be a month later when you realise they’ve been going to school for a month (sob) and its gone so quickly (sob). Or it may be all of the above.
I know you think your son or daughter may not be quite ready because they’re young for the year/young for their age/eldest child/youngest child/hasn’t learnt to spell their own name/ hasn’t left your side in four years. They’re ready.
They may look tiny in their massive uniforms (ahhh), they may look like they’re folding under the weight of all the bags they have to carry in and your heartstrings feel as though they may snap you’re so worried. But your child will be fine, because you’ve got them ready for school. Every day you’ve had your child since they were born, every time you’ve taught them right from wrong, and to say please and thank you, you’ve been preparing them. Teachers have dealt with everything and nothing your child will do or say will surprise them. Just make sure they’re potty trained (no, really).
They will make friends quickly (you may not)
Your child, whatever their personality type, or intelligence level, is going to make friends. It’s almost impossible when you’re four/five to not make friends. If you can chat to someone about going to the moon in a cardboard box, or you want to compare bruises, you will find someone in reception class who will want to listen. By the end of the first year you’ll be inwardly cursing at how popular your kid is, when the birthday invites don’t stop coming.
You, however, may not click with other mums straight away. There is of course a good chance you’ll know a few mums through nursery, but a lot of the time you won’t. This means you won’t have the instant school clique you think you’ll have, but by the end of your first year you will have a few solid school gate mums who you can have a natter with.
F*ck bento boxes
I mean it. There are some people who spend an hour making a school lunch, and then post pictures of it on Instagram and Twitter. Frankly, it’s a load of tosh. The only benefit of bento boxes is the compartments, they can just about fit a babybel in. But I promise you won’t be classed as a sh*t parent because you haven’t dyed the bread blue, themed it, or made cute faces out of sandwiches. Personally I’d like to see what those creations look like once the lunchbox has been flung under a bench, tossed into the sky, sat on and left in the musty warmth of a classroom for three hours. Appetising no? Remember how you’ve kept your kid alive and healthy for the past four years or so? You can continue to do this with school lunches.
With anything. Don’t push your child – let them grow and learn at their own pace. If they’re tired, don’t make them read, or you’ll end up with a four year old hiding under a bed.
Don’t compete with other parents either. If there’s a cake sale (they average every other day I believe), don’t feel you have to bake. Buy some if you need to (a very good friend of mine believes in buying Sainsbury’s own fairy cakes and then giving them a good bash to make them look authentically home made).
Get acquainted with Amazon/Ebay
You’ve got a lot of fancy dress costumes to conjure up. Usually with about two days notice.
Because in a year’s time you’ll be wondering where the time has gone.