Starting school: I'm an anxious mess, but I don't want my kid to be

So I thought I’d be fine with my middle child starting school this week, after all, I’ve been through it before. But then the nightmares started…

I am having a meltdown. My second-born is starting school and I am a mess. Philip is nine and is in Year Four. It’s not like I’m new to the whole starting school process. I thought Giovanni’s transition from preschool to Kindy would be seamless.

Then the nightmares began.

I have nightmares most nights about Giovanni starting school. I know it's my own anxiety causing them but I don't know how to stop them. One of the worst dreams involves me forgetting to pick him up from school, racing to the car and driving there only to find that the school has become a fortress and I can't quite scale the wall. I know Giovanni was on the other side waiting for me and I beg one of the office ladies to let me in but she refuses.

Another nightmare that is on my highlight reel is the one where Giovanni and I arrive at school. We are happy. He is perfectly dressed and we've remembered to bring everything. Then they can't find his name on any of the class lists. We wandered around the school aimlessly trying to find his class only to be told by a friend of mine from work, who made a random appearance in this dream, that there was no room for him and to come back tomorrow.

I am tired of everyone telling me to chill out and relax. "Everything is going to be fine," my husband says. "How do you know," I throw back.

I am allowed to feel my feelings but what I need to focus on is making sure my anxiety doesn't affect affect him. He's quite chuffed at the idea of starting school and being one of the 'big kids'. He keeps referring to himself as a 'big boy' and insisting on dressing himself and using his own wallet to pay for his weekly doughnut at the shops.

Giovanni during his very first bus trip to the city       

He's also excited to be catching the bus home from school each day. In fact I think he's more excited to be catching the bus home than he is to be starting school.

So unfortunately, the anxiety I am experiencing is mine and mine alone.

Here's how I'm channeling my anxiety in a healthy way:

1. Making sure we have all the school supplies he needs;

2. Ironing his uniform ready for his first day;

3. Discussing what he'd like to eat for recess and lunch each day;

4. Teaching him the name of his class and the name of his teacher;

5. Talking about school positively at all times.

6. If he ever notices I am anxious I tell him it's because mummy is going to miss him, that's all.

Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble has some brilliant tips of her own:

For kids:

1. Know that everyone else is just as nervous as you;

2. Get to know your 'buddy';

3. Remember that strangers are just friends you haven't made yet;

4. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

For parents:

1. Embrace the power of stationary (everyone loves some new pencils);

2. Establish a routine asap (particularly a set bedtime and earliest wake-up);

3. Take your cue from the teacher on when to stay and when to go;

4. Organise to meet up with other parents and kids.

Jo Lamble also recommends this book for any children nervous about starting school. It's called "Monster Primary School" by Michael Paulsen. Purchase your copy here.

Check out Jo Abi and Jo Lamble discussing kids starting school with Natarsha Belling from Wake Up. Natarsha's son is starting school and she's feeling just as fragile as many mums are:

Are you feeling anxious or relaxed about your kid heading off to school this week? How are you handling the transition?