Nudge and a wink to surviving that big first year

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AS back-to-school beckons, “Mummy” columnist KATE MEIKLE has compiled a cheat sheet for new kindergarten parents. 

STRANGELY, 2020 flew past very quickly for us and somehow, in a blink of an eye, we got to the end of the year with our son’s first year of school behind him. 

Kate Meikle.

Kindy is a big step up and school life is fast paced. It will ask a lot of your child and you. As a “veteran” kindy mum, here are some of the things that I learnt that big first year: 

Stay on top of the notes

I felt a bit out of control at first trying to keep up with the schedule – library days, reader days, free-dress days or special performances. Notes can seem never ending. 

Mummy tip: As soon as you get a note, action it right away. Do it now before you forget and the next note comes back home, screwed up in the bottom of a bag. Same goes for party RSVPs. Get one of those wall calendars your mum used to have (on a notice board next to the phone and the teledex) when you were growing up. It’s daggy but useful. 

The dreaded lunch box

I struggled to get into the rhythm of them. Smarties pack them the night before (or even freeze some sandwiches), but I was never that clever. My son, being the creature of habit he is, loves to eat the same food for lunch, so that makes it easy. 

Don’t pressure yourself to create a gourmet lunch box. The internet has way too many perfect mums showcasing their home-made savoury muffins and balanced bento boxes. Don’t get sucked in. Just do your best. No matter what you prepare, your kids will pester you for Tiny Teddies! 

Mummy tip: Buy lunch boxes now; they’re hard to find once the year starts. There is no such thing as the ultimate lunch box, so don’t spend a lot of money trying to find it. While shopping, buy two school hats. Your kid will lose the first by week two, then it will turn up by week six. Trust me, they need two hats. 

Big little kids

Kindy’s a big leap in independence. It came as a surprise to us that our son hadn’t been given the opportunity to fill up his drink bottle, it’s something we always did for him. 

Mummy tip: Teach your kids how to do it, how to cool themselves down after running around the playground at lunch, how to put on sunscreen properly. Those sort of personal-care things that parents automatically take on for kids need to transition to their responsibility. 

Mini ‘Karens’ 

Kids tend to love rules and school has a load of them. Kindy kids will become very self righteous (yes, good old-fashioned dobbers), as they learn how the school works. This will also come home with them. They will be outraged by rules being bent and plans being changed. Your child will become a dobber, they will want to speak to the manager, like little “Karens” when their sense of right and wrong is challenged. 

Mummy tip: There’s no point in saying “be cool” or trying to change them. Be grateful that school has positively influenced them, even though they will be the dobbiest little humans on the planet! 

Party politics

Birthday parties can get political! Kindy kids appear to not really care that they weren’t invited to “so-and-so’s” party, but us parents might have a different feeling. This can create some whispers and tension. I hope someone can clarify for me some of the rules such as do you have to invite every kid that invited your kid to their party? Is telling another kid “you are invited to my party” an official invitation? Ahhh, I give up. Good luck. 

Mummy tip: Go on, be the parent who invites your kindy kid’s new friends to your house for a play. Have a cuppa with their parents and you might just make a friend, too. The play date was a sanity saviour for us last year – it’s free, entertaining and suitable for all weather conditions. With a bit of luck, the play date will be reciprocated and your child can go and mess up the other family’s house. 

Don’t be sad, be proud

As the queen of “happy tears” in my family, my kids love to tell everyone that “mummy cried happy tears on Christmas Day, two times!” I get it, you will probably stifle a sniffle when waving your kindy kid off on the first day. But try not to feel sad, just focus on the exciting new phase ahead. When that happened to me, I felt an overwhelming feeling of pride. Pride that he is a big-hearted boy, ready for the next big step in his life and education. Pride that we made it this far! Good luck, fellow parents, on this amazing journey.

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Ian Meikle, editor

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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