For parents in many parts of Australia, this week is a very, very important one.
It’s the week their child starts school for the first time. They’ll dress their sons and daughters in uniforms that seem far too big, put shiny, brand new shoes on their feet, and place hats on their heads that will inevitably be lost within days. Lunch boxes will be packed, and bags will be zipped up.
But it’s the emotional significance of this moment that takes many parents by surprise. It’s a reminder that your child won’t be a baby forever, and as they grow up, they’ll gradually become more and more independent.
For Rebecca Judd, Tuesday was the big day. Her eldest son, five-year-old Oscar, is starting Kindergarten.
Speaking to Mamamia, the 34-year-old described how she’s feeling about Oscar’s big day.
“He’s so ready,” she said. “I’m excited for him.”
“I think he’ll love the challenge, and learning, and he loves sharing information.”
“Oscar’s academic,” she said, explaining that she’s glad the school he’s attending has a strong academic focus. The mum-of-four is also excited for all the sports Oscar will have the opportunity to participate in – including playing basketball for the first time.
But for Judd, Oscar starting school is made substantially easier by the fact that it’s the same place he attended pre-school. The “big one” for this week, therefore, involves two-year-old Billie.
“The big one for me is Billie starts three-year-old Kinder,” she told Mamamia. “She’ll be wearing a school uniform!” When Billie starts on Thursday, it’ll be a meaningful first step for the family, and will signal a big change in their routine.
Luckily for the Judd’s, they’ve got a secret weapon: Bec’s mum.
“Mum’s moved in with us,” Judd explained, “so she’s a huge help.”
When it comes to school drop-offs and pick-ups, she says her and Chris will work around their schedules to take turns.
Listen to Mamamia’s Holly Wainwright interview Rebecca Judd on I Don’t Know How She Does It.
For Oscar’s first day, however, both parents were planning on doing the school drop-off.
One thing Judd has focused on in the lead up to Oscar starting school is an ABC online program called Reading Eggs, which she’s partnered with for their Back to School campaign. The program makes learning to read easy and fun for kids from 3-13, using a progressive sequence of interactive lessons, games and activities.
“My kids think I’m the coolest mum ever,” Judd said, “because they get no screen time, and then all of a sudden I’m like ‘hey, have some screen time!’ It’s so much fun.”
I asked Judd how she goes about making decisions around screen time – given that some programs can be so educational. “You need to do your research,” she said, emphasizing that if a program works, it’s worth kids spending time online. She says it’s also solved the problem of “that feral time between 4.30 and dinner,” where you want to keep your kids busy.
It’s a big milestone for the Judd family, and the next few months are bound to be filled with lost uniforms, hidden lunchboxes, and more permission slips than any human can keep track of. But somehow, we think they’ll cope just fine.