If you speak to any other person that has not got children, one of the hardest things to describe is what their first day of school is actually like. It’s something that comes with mixed emotions, not just from the child’s side but from the parent’s side. Preparing ourselves for the first day of our child’s school involves mental preparation on our part. We went through the school system ourselves, but it’s a completely different concept entirely, so what should we do to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally?
Acknowledge How We Feel
We can easily bury our heads in the sand and think that we are just overreacting. But anything can set us off. Acknowledging the wide range of emotions, whether it’s pride and joy or worry and sadness, will help us to process this, and this is when we can start to incorporate a practice into our lives that will help us feel more in control of our emotions. Something like night time prayers will ensure we feel like we can go back to something that helps us check in with how we feel and actively process these feelings.
Learn About the School
Our children are not necessarily going into the big wide world, but it can feel like that. What we can do when we are feeling fearful is to learn about the school. We can easily become overprotective parents and think that the school is not going to look after our precious baby. But what we need to do at this point is to develop trust with the school. Learn about the routines the school has in place for younger kids, and you can start to mirror those at home, for example having lunch and encouraging playtime around the same time as the school.
If possible, you can visit the school and get a better understanding of the environment. Most schools provide some form of open day, and if you have additional concerns, for example, if your child has extra needs due to anxiety, it is worth communicating this with the school in advance and visiting the school with your child to get them familiar with the environment so it can be less daunting but also ensure that you are feeling more at ease with the entire process.
Prioritize the Positive
It is easy enough to feel that sense of overwhelm because of a number of unknown factors, but one of the most emotional aspects of this situation is that we feel our children are growing up way too fast. Because we can feel like life is going way too quickly, this is why it’s the perfect opportunity to focus on the positive parts of this phase of our child’s life as well as ours. Think about what school will do for them.
If you’ve been a stay-at-home parent and you haven’t taken them to daycare or put them in any form of childcare, and now they are going straight to school, this will naturally be a shock to the system for both of you. This is where they will do their real learning in life, and we have to learn to make peace with this, because if not, we can end up being more controlling over certain aspects of their lives than we realize, and becoming a helicopter parent is never too far behind!
Prepare a Morning Routine
In the weeks leading up to your child’s first day, it’s essential to build a morning routine that prepares your child for the day ahead but also gives you enough time to get ready. A very common part of getting our children ready for anything is that military operation that invariably makes us feel more stressed than is necessary.
So instead, get yourself into the swing of things, and if you are in a country where your child has to wear a school uniform for their first day, get them used to wearing this uniform, because if you save it until the very last second before school starts, you will have a major mountain to climb.
Keep Yourself Busy on the First Day
The moment we drop them off at the school gates is hands down one of the most difficult we will ever experience as a parent. Many parents talk about being in floods of tears or in fact being more emotional than the child themselves, and this can somehow make us feel worse. The best thing you can do is to keep your mind occupied and distract yourself from any anxious thoughts.
We have to remember this is an essential part of life, and as parents, we can go through stages of anxiety because our children are growing up, and we have to sever aspects of our bond with them as a developing little person. This is doubly true when your children progress to high school, so it is essential to start readying your mindset.