I watched the video the other day. My firstborn Carson’s first day of kindergarten. I openly claim that I am not a sappy mom, crying at each milestone. But as I watched the video, I realized I am sappy in my own way. He was little, and if his little stomach wasn’t doing flips, mine was doing enough for the both of us. I knew all the fun he was going to have. I knew all the things he was going to learn. And he was going to do it all without me. It was the beginning of his true academic career. As the video streamed, it began with a little interview in the van before we walked in. Yes, he was excited. No, he didn’t know what he was going to learn that day. The camera followed him into his classroom where he was greeted by his teacher, instructed where to hang his little purple bag, and pointed to the circular rug to take a seat and look at books. The camera then cut to a view outside the room, from the circle drive, where the outside door was propped open.
I was a sneaky helicopter mom. I could see his cute little face with a book, seated on the rug with his new prospective friends. Then the camera cut. I don’t remember much from that day, except for what the video showed me. I’m sure I could not wait to pick him up and hear about his day. He’s 12 now, about to enter the 7th grade. We have the 8th “first day of school” on the horizon.
On his or her first day of school, your little one will most likely be anxious, excited, hesitant, nervous, indifferent, or a combination of those things. Tell them how much fun they are going to have. Tell them what YOU remember about going to kindergarten. Start the conversation weeks before school starts. It’s a big day for your child (and you!)
Leaving your most precious cargo at the hands of someone you most likely really don’t know, to watch over, protect, and teach, is hard. There is no way around it. Whether you’re a sappy mom or not. You’re not alone; this is the good news. And you’ll make it. Whether there are no tears, tears hang just on the cusp of your eyelid with you willing them not to spill, or whether they are streaming down your face, and don’t stop until your little one is with you once again, you weren’t the first and won’t be the last mom to dread the first day of Kindergarten. As a veteran mom of “the first day of kindergarten” (I have 3 who are well into their elementary careers), I’m going to give you some tips to get you through.
- Never let them see you cry. We are strictly talking about the first day of school here. You want your little one to be excited, and to know that it is ok to be without mom. If mom is crying, it might create anxiety. You want to give them every ounce of confidence you can before they walk through that door. If you have to choke them back until you spin around and walk away, then do it. Then feel free to bawl your eyes out.
- Don’t Linger. I am the daughter of a kindergarten teacher. This is the first thing she said when I asked for some tips from her. Drop them off with a kiss, a hug, and a “see you later”. Then you can secretly video them through the window.
- Find something to do while they are in school. Going home and sitting on the couch with ice cream is not an option. Schedule coffee with a friend, run your errands with one less child in tow – just keep yourself busy. Schedule lunch with that veteran mom right now!
- Kindergarten is hard! The truth is, standards are higher these days. There isn’t a lot of playtime anymore, and teachers are under pressure to have students who perform. After your little one has worked hard all day, make sure they have time to decompress and play! Overachieving moms, I’m talking to you.
- Minimize the extracurricular activities, especially the first semester. Your little one will be tired both physically and mentally. Don’t sign them up for dance, piano, and t-ball to fill their evenings. Let them ease into all day school, then slowly add things.
It’s a milestone, and a big one. You’re going to be sad. And that is okay. You’re doing your job. They made it to kindergarten! Pat yourself on the back, and watch your little one bloom into their own little person by having new experiences, making new friends, and making you proud.