So, your eldest will be starting school this fall… how did that happen? It’s such a major milestone, and it feels like it was only yesterday that you first brought them home from the hospital.
For some, this will seem like the start of an exciting new phase. For others, there will be anxiety about the unknown, like what their teacher will be like and if they will fit in. Whatever your take, it’s sure to be an emotional time for the whole family.
It’s probably also an extremely busy time, as everyone adjusts to their new routine. This can be particularly tricky if you also have a newborn, as you need to find a balance between preparing your new student and looking after your new baby. But with a little planning and some help from your nearest and dearest, the whole process can be as smooth – and stress-free – as possible for everyone involved.
Minimize the morning rush
Help take some of the stress out of the morning scramble by starting school day preparations early. Pack lunches and school bags, and choose and sort out clothes the night before to make it easier to get everyone up and out the door on time.
And don’t just focus on getting your eldest child ready. Before you go to bed, pick out something for you and your littlest one to wear the next day. For a simple, yet stylish look, we recommend sticking to the basics – like a "plain tee" and "jeans" for you and a fun romper for your baby.
Empower your eldest
For most children, one of the most exciting parts about starting school is the sense of independence and maturity it gives them. You can help build on this by encouraging them to get themselves ready for school each morning.
By starting off small – like getting them to dress themselves – and adding more responsibilities over time, you can help them build confidence and develop invaluable life skills. You can also use a ‘morning checklist’ to remind them of the things they need to do and have them draw pictures – ‘instructions’ explaining their routine.
Seek support from your school community
When your child starts school, you become part of a larger community of teachers and parents. While this community is primarily focused on the learning and development of your child and their classmates, it can also be an unofficial support network for you and your family. After all, you probably live in the same area and are experiencing a lot of the same challenges.
Once you’ve built a rapport with other members of your school community, you should feel comfortable asking them for assistance and advice. Like when your baby comes down with a fever and you can’t leave the house, consider asking a nearby parent if your eldest can walk with them to school. Or if you’re going to be late, call the parents of your child’s best friend to arrange a pickup and impromptu playdate.
Pre-prepare an afternoon snack
Starting school can really mess with your child’s routine, particularly if they usually have a nap in the afternoon. To help minimize the impact of this, make sure you have something small ready for them to eat when they get home. This will help keep their energy up and mood in check!
Also, take the opportunity to check in on your child’s day. Asking them about what they learned and their favorite thing that happened will help establish open communication and reinforce the new information and ideas they’ve been exposed to.