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6 things you need to know before your child starts school (that no one else will tell you).

Preparing to send your child off to Kindy is a big milestone for all parents. And for the months leading up to their first day, we’re meticulously organising, trying our best to make sure they are as ready as they can be.

But sometimes, it’s us parents who could do with a helping hand. After all, it’s just a big a day for us in letting them go than it is for them waving goodbye to us.

Here are six things you need to prepare yourself for:

1. YOU need to make friends.

Okay, so one of the things some parents really worry about is how their child is going to navigate their way through the excruciating social complexities of the school playground. Let me tell you, be worried for yourself. Standing at school pick up as a new school mum is tough and intimidating and the parents can be so cliquey.

There are going to parents from all walks of life and you will meet some of the most divine people and have a blast with them at Trivia nights etc, but you will also meet some people who, well, won’t be ‘your cup of tea’ and you won’t be theirs. Staying amicable no matter what transpires is the key, as it is a long haul till graduation (and, if it is a local public school your child is attending, these parents could be your neighbours!)

Go to the parent nights out… trust me, mums and dads on a childless night out party harder then any 21-year-old footy player on a Mad Monday. Join the mums’ netball team and go for coffees after drop off if you can.

Building bonds with other parents helps create the school community, allow for play dates and any help you might need if you run late for school pick up, texting questions as you rush out the door like “Sam is it bloody sport or library today? I can never remember!” and “Hi Bec! Is canteen open today? Please, for love of god can you say yes!! We are out of bread!”

2. Schoolattude.

This usually happens in the second or third week back. Suddenly your little cherub will start replying back to you with a tone and will show sass and hold you accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. You think to yourself Holy Crap! what has happened to my sweet little kiddo that thought I was the best thing ever?

It’s called independence, splashed with an overwhelmingly wave of tiredness. Suddenly they realise they can have a life outside of you. They have six hours a day where they can make their own choices and feel self-entitled while doing it. It’s like they suddenly realise, ‘Wait a minute, I am in charge of my own destiny!’ This is where you hope all those years of nagging about making good behaviour choices and having good manners has embedded a little voice recording inside their head to remind them the appropriate way to act when they are faced with adversity.

3. Be organised.

A soon as a permission slip comes home, sign it and put it straight back in their bag. As soon as a birthday invite comes home, RSVP then and there and put it on the fridge. I know you probably won’t, but try and lay out uniforms and have bags packed. Don’t you dare even attempted to make lunches the night before, let’s just try and do realistic achievable things.

Start assignments when you get them. Do a bit each day. Do a bit of homework each day and do readers every night or morning (depending on the schoolattude!)

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4. You may need counselling after school drop off.

No matter how organised you are, even if you have the bags in the car and the shoes at the front door PUTTING THEIR SOCKS AND SHOES ON AND GETTING IN THE DAMN CAR will be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life as a parent.

There will always be a sock that will need adjusting a billion times, a shoe that is too ‘squeaky’, a shoe that has a massive seemingly invisible lump underfoot and an outright refusal to put any shoes on at all. If there are siblings, be prepared for an all out galactic war.

Someone will breathe on them, someone will call the other a ‘baby poopy pants’, and there will be a race and an epic struggle that will result in a gush of tears over who gets in the car first. Bickering will continue on the drive to school as everyone dissects who said what first and whose fault it was.

Have wipes in the car. There will always be a piece of sleep dust that wasn’t wiped out, a smear of Vegemite or a blob of white toothpaste on a cheek.

As you kiss them good bye your heart swoons with admiration and you tell them you love them more then anything else in the world even though you were planning their murders five minutes ago during the whining and screeching. Driving off you realise how bloody messed up the last 15 minutes has been and head off to source coffee then counselling.

5. Holidays!

No lunches to prepare, no routine, no time restraints of after school activities, lazy breakfasts, cartoons… WOW it is all just divine. Then it hits you. Oh My God! I am running a crèche for the next few weeks!

You won’t be prepared for what is the utter mayhem of DAY ONE. For some reason day one of the school holidays is an all out dogfight. They go ratty, it is almost like they have lost their sense of self-control and go crazy like a bunch of schoolies on the Gold Coast. You either stay in and let them fight it out and nag you to death or you venture out and try to go somewhere there isn’t much of the general public around and at least your house will stay intact… for a day. On that note, try and not freak out about the cyclonic mess in your home, you can clean it all up when they go back to school (it will only take a week).

I find making plans help. Don’t feel that you have to go out every day and spend money though. Have a Lego morning, ride bikes, do puzzles, play barbies, play in the yard, cook, colour, scooter to the park… school holidays should not have to send you broke and children need to learn to make their own entertainment. If anyone whinges that they are bored I just say “well, boring people get bored” and send them on their way and they always end up finding something to do.

6. Cherish every moment.

Once your kids start school, the years just fly by. Take a heap of photos of their achievements. If you can, volunteer at the school and attend assemblies or Easter hat parades. Save all their quirky, funny and interesting schoolwork in a big container in the garage.

You will never get this time back! (Fist pump!)

This story first appeared on Mamamia in January, 2016. 

What did you wish you knew before your child’s first day at school?

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