When I see friends’ Instagram snaps of their kids wearing brand new, grass stain-free uniforms on their first day of school, I shed a little tear.
I get emotional because I know I’m so not ready for my firstborn to go to school.
My editor asked me to write this piece and I’ll be honest, it’s only from thinking about it that I’ve come up with these strategies to prepare myself for the big, exciting (?) day.
If you also find yourself in the same boat, then I hope they help you, too.
I have a year
My son, Leon, doesn’t start school until 2019. He’s a June baby and so unlike little Prince George (who was born around the same time as my son), here in Australia we could choose to hold off sending him for another year – of course, I did! As such, I know we both have a little time to prepare and to be honest, I think I need it as much as he does.
He has my heart
Actually, both my sons do but being my firstborn, he stole it first and then had to share it when his brother came along. He’s my little guy. My buddy. My love. I’m fiercely protective of him but I also know it’s my job to help him to grow up. To learn resilience, to be able to face the world on his own and to become whoever he wants to and do whatever he desires. But I don’t want him to go to school. While I could homeschool him, I guess, I don’t think that’s best for him or me. I work part time and in truth, I think I’d be a terrible teacher as well. I also value the social aspect of school. So school it is.
But I’m scared.
My son also has ASD, so my anxiety over him starting school is also wrapped up in that. Will he be understood? Will he make friends? Will he be able to cope without me. Will I be able to cope when I know my heart is running around in a pair of Clarks and I have NO IDEA HOW EVERYTHING IS GOING!
Take a deep breath.
My get ready for school plan
I know in order to feel better about the whole school thing, that I need to feel prepared. Although I have lots of strategies in place for him – like upping his kindy days to three days a week so that five school days won’t come as such a shock, as well as a ‘transition to school’ plan with his special educator – I haven’t really thought about me, until now.
1. Make some good school mum friends in my son’s year
When you find a like-minded mum friend who understands you and your worries (however justified or unjustified), then you know she has your back and you have her’s. I have some wonderful mum friends but only one with a boy starting at the same school as Leon. I do also know of a couple of mums in my street who have boys also starting at Leon’s school in 2019 and I will endeavour to get to know them. This year is going to be the year of street play dates! I feel it will do all of us good, none less the boys who will already have some friends when they walk through the gates on their first day.
2. Spend more one on one time with his brother
Sam, my littlest has always had to share me. But when his brother goes to kindy one more day than him this year, we will have a full day of mummy and Sam time. I think this will be great, as I really want that time with him and I worry about how much he will miss Leon when he goes to big school. They are best mates. This year, I will try to get Sam used to not always having Leon around and to make friends of his own. This will make me feel better about that aspect of it.
3. Talk about school – a lot
I’m always preparing my boys for things by talking to them, reading books and drawing pictures, but feeling prepared also helps adults to cope with change. As well as chatting to my boys about school and this exciting new chapter Leon will be embarking on, I will make sure I talk to my support people about how I’m feeling too. My partner, of course, but also my family and friends. I will not shut it out in the hope it isn’t really happening.
4. Do orientations for me as much as him
When the time comes for him to visit the school, I will look at this as not only orientation for him, but also me as a newby school mum. I will find out all I need to and make an effort to get to know the staff and where the admin office is. I’ll give myself a tour and take notes.
5. I will not lose sight of the bigger picture
Yes, my firstborn is starting school but he isn’t leaving me. He’s starting a new chapter of his life and he will need me every step of the way to navigate it. I’m not losing him to the system, but rather I’m helping him to learn how to exist within it. We will still have plenty of time together, and I’ll always be his mummy.
Maybe I am overthinking it all and my heart won’t be ripped out on that first day, but I feel it’s helped me by just writing about it. Isn’t that always the way?