I’ve graduated to the big leagues. I am an official kindergarten mom. And I admit, it’s been a harder adjustment for me than my kiddo. Which is usually the case on this parenting journey. Kids are resilient and mostly go with the flow, with exception to the occasional meltdown. But I’m all over here wondering how time passed so quickly! My baby is growing up, and that’s reality.
There were a lot of sad moments, moving on from preschool. I mean, I wouldn’t be taking my baby to the place where we went for the first five years of his life while I worked. I grew attached to this school, and the teachers. Now I’d be taking him to some ginormous elementary school with big kids. And dropping him off outside, versus inside. Big. Steps. For me, not my kid.
On this kindergarten journey so far, I discovered it’s a whole new ballgame compared to preschool. Preschool did the job of preparing an academic foundation, changing classes, learning interpersonal skills, etc. But the elementary school activities and events? OMG. It’s. Too. Much. For this working mom. And PTA? More commitments? In addition to work, home? My head was spinning for the first several weeks.
I’m not even going to mention drop-off lanes, spirit wear, and subsidizing. If you don’t know what subsidizing means, no worries, your kindergartner will teach you. In the meantime, here are some things you can prepare for and learn before kindergarten starts next year:
1. Pack your kid’s lunch. The first day of kindergarten is hectic, to say the least. Some moms will be dabbing at their mascara. Dads will be chill. Some student will have four generations in their family trying to take pictures and video—while you’re trying to squeeze in one last hug. So, don’t expect your kid to remember their lunch code or card or keep up with money in the midst of all the chaos. Pack their lunch, at least for the first few weeks. It will be familiar to them and a way for you to send a little smiley face to your little one.
2. Label everything. Invest in a Sharpie and label your kid’s name inside shorts, T-shirts, backpack, every Ziploc bag, etc. I don’t label things on the outside, like monogramming backpacks, but on inside tags, label the fire out of it.
3. Buy some reusable water bottles. I was not prepared here. I didn’t give any thought to ‘what or how my kid would drink water during the day’. When I was in elementary school, we drank from the water fountain. At home, my kid drinks bottled water, the 8 oz bottles. But in my kid’s class, he is allowed to have a water bottle, and it wasn’t cool to bring a bottle of water. It had to be a pirate, reusable water bottle. Check with your kinder teacher on her/his rules.
4. Ice packs. Get these at Target or Walmart BEFORE the school-supply rush happens. Unless you pack food that does not need to be refrigerated.
5. Backup clothes. Even tho potty training should no longer be visible in your rearview mirror, adapting to a new environment can be tough for a kindergarten student. Big kids, bigger school, new teacher. Everything is unfamiliar. It’s proactive to pack a bag of backup undies, shorts, shirt, etc., in case an accident happens. Check with your kinder teacher on where you can stash this bag in or near their classroom.
6. Join the PTA. It’s important to learn from other moms and to get a head’s up on upcoming events. PTA moms are hard core volunteers, and we need them to make the school experience great for students and families. Giving back is a good way to show your kid you care and know what’s going on. You’ll also meet other working moms in the same boat as you. #JoinPTA
7. Research afterschool programs. This was a HUGE thing for my family. Depending on where you live, you may have a lot of options, or just a few. No matter which category you’re in, research the afterschool programs in your area and ask good questions. Like, what’s your security policy (how do they match kids/parents at pick-up time). And do they provide snacks. Are they open on teacher in-service days, or will you need to take a vacation day from work.
8. Bedtime. You will hit your designated bedtime with no problem once kindergarten starts. While still in preschool, my kiddo was never tired at bedtime … because he still took an afternoon naps. Well, say goodbye to naps when kindergarten starts, and hello to meeting bedtime every single night. So encourage a strict bedtime so they have solid energy the next day at school.
9. Schedule overload. I don’t know about you, but as a working mom, I go to a lot of meetings. A lot. I also have a lot of events throughout the year. So, with kindergarten, and I mean immediately, there are lots of things going on. From fun runs to book fairs to trips to the pumpkin patch. And this is on top of any home assignments, projects, etc. But, it’s great for your kid, and he or she will love those fun times at school that gives them a break from hitting the books. Just be prepared to need flexibility or use vaca time in order to enjoy some of these precious moments in your child’s academic career.
Letting go is hard for moms
Kindergarten is a time of transition. It’s turning the page on the toddler years and moving into the first stage of their academic careers. You will be blessed by seeing your child’s hunger to learn, loving their teachers, and sharing with you what they discovered at school. They will have a desire to read and learn and share these moments with you. Enjoy each and every second with your child, and don’t stress too much about what you do and don’t know. Just know you aren’t alone and most other parents are trying to navigate the parenting journey right along side you.