Whether you’ve got a 3-month-old headed for daycare, a 3 year-old starting preschool, or you kept your child home until the law required that formal schooling begin or else, you’re about to suddenly be separated from your sweet sidekick. And it’s probably going to hurt, a little bit.
Or should I say, it’s probably going to hurt you a little bit. The kids? They adapt just fine. Meanwhile, I went through quite a few tissues every time one of my baby birds left the nest.
I did take tremendous comfort, however, in knowing that I had fully prepared my children as well as myself for these transitions. Here’s my survival guide for getting through that intense first goodbye:
1. Get ready, get set…
You’ll feel better about that first drop-off if you get organized at least a few weeks in advance. Take the time to fill out all the paperwork carefully. Tell the people you’ve listed as designated emergency contacts of their role and make sure they know your family’s “pick-up password,” if your school requires one for a non-parent to retrieve your child.
Also be sure to emotionally prepare your kids for the change. If you have toddlers or older children, enthusiastically introduce the concept of “school” weeks or even months in advance and arrange a few visits to the facility. Even for a 12-week-old, stopping by the infant room the day before school begins will get him accustomed to the new sounds, sights and smells while still in the comfort of your arms.
2. Stock up.
Make sure you’re sending your child to class with everything the teacher has requested, collecting all items in one organized station in your home. A good tip is to put many of these supplies that will need to be replenished throughout the year–like diapers and wipes for the little ones, and juice boxes and healthy snacks for the older ones–on automatic re-delivery so you’ll never run out. As a mom of three, I swear Vitacost’s Set & Save should be renamed “Sane & Save,” because I’d go crazy without it!
3. Be at peace with your decision.
If you feel guilty about going back to work, remind yourself of why this decision is the right one for your family, yourself and your career, and tune out any nosy, opinionated people in your life who are giving you a hard time.
On the other side of the coin, if you’ve stayed home and are worried about your child adjusting to the harsh reality of school after years by your side, give yourself a pat on the back for preparing her so well for this new stage in her life. You’ve given her love, guidance, confidence and independence. She’s learned so much from you–and now she’s ready to take on the world!
4. Celebrate the first day.
Mark the end of the first day with a special treat so your child will have a positive association with school. This is a practice many cultures already follow. It’s a Jewish tradition to begin the school year with apples and honey, and in Germany, the first day of school means a giant, decorated cone called a Schultüte which is filled with all sorts of delicious goodies. Copy these customs–we think rich, creamy YS Eco Bee Raw Honey in particular would be decadent with fresh fruit–or create your own ritual.
And maybe enjoy a treat just for you, mom…a glass of wine and a square of dark chocolate, perhaps? Because you did it. You survived!