There is a lot of talk about kids adjusting to kindergarten and it’s all very important. It is a big adjustment. But what about preparing for the changes a mom goes through when her child goes off to kindergarten? From packing lunches to field trips, communicating with teachers to PTA meetings, and before and after-school care, here is some encouragement to prepare moms for kindergarten and make the transition a bit easier.
The Summer Mixer
My first glimpse of the transition to having a child in kindergarten was at a PTA-sponsored summer play day. It sounded like such a nice way to meet new parents and allow our son to meet new classmates, but on the way to the park I started feeling nervous. I realized these are the people I will see daily. Did I take a shower? Put on deodorant? Brush my teeth?! What’s worse, I seemed to be the only one there who didn’t know anyone and had a younger sibling in tow. If this happens to you, don’t worry. You will find another mom as overwhelmed as you and you will become good friends.
School lunches are a pain in the booty. We went from a preschool that made a lovely set of snacks and lunch every day to having to pack lunches daily. The Planet box and thermos help make lunch a bit easier as well as dividing the chore with my husband. We have also taught our son how to make his own sandwich and pick out some healthy side options.
Drop-Off and Pick-Up
Gone are the days of being able to drop off kids at daycare anytime after 7:30 and pick up anytime before 5:30. We have to be on time. Luckily my husband’s schedule allows for flexibility, so he can do drop-off, and most schools offer after-school care with flexible pick-up times. This of course comes with a cost which is not much cheaper than full-time day care, but it helps some, right?
Communicating with kindergarten teachers has a different feel than preschool. Long gone are the little chats at pick-up about the particular nature of our child’s day, his potty performance, and how much or little he rested and ate. In kindergarten, it’s a wave and a “good morning,” and maybe a quick email conversation. Instead of hearing about all the cool things our son said during the day or the things he had built, communication at this age level is much more about logistics. Thankfully, parent/teacher conferences offer a little more detail, but they are still pretty quick and there are many predetermined categories they need to cover. I recommend setting up a meeting with your kid’s teacher during the school year if you feel left in the dark.
Parent involvement is huge at most schools. I thoroughly enjoy helping in the lunchroom, classroom, and the art room. I would love to do it more, but I have a full-time job. Sometimes I feel a little jealous of the moms who seem to be there all the time while I rushed in and out, squeezing in time during my lunch hour. No matter how much or how little you can help out in school or after-school, know it’s okay.
No School Days
For working moms there will sometimes be days your child will not have school and you have to work. These days seemed to sneak up on us and finding childcare is certainly a challenge for most families. Our school’s aftercare program provides care on these days (for a fee, of course) which is a convenient option. I recommend looking at the school calendar now and plan ahead for child care.
Long Days for Little People
The exhaustion of kindergarten is real! Come November and I wondered where my sweet boy had gone! It was a terrible few weeks of tired, grumpy, and all around miserable behavior. I mentioned this to his teacher and she explained it is totally normal. She recommended some chill time in the evenings and on the weekends and keeping an early bedtime. And after Christmas break, he was a whole new kid!
Kindergarten is an amazing year of growth and making some really great friends…for both the child and mom! I now enjoy park play dates and chatting with my new friends at pick-up and drop-off. If your family is venturing into kindergarten for the first time this year, go easy on yourself, schedule in some chill time for everyone, and develop a close, but realistic relationship with your child’s teacher. These are the best ways to prepare moms for kindergarten!