Is this your first year as a school mum? Here are 5 things no one told me when my eldest started kindergarten.
1. Your child will cry
If you’ve made it past the first day and they didn’t, you’re not out of the woods yet.
Whether it’s the first week or the last term, your child will cry and not want to leave you at some point during their first year.
It might be because big school is scary and new or it might be because they’re exhausted and don’t want to go after months of perfect attendance, but mark my words – at some point, there will be tears.
Pro tip: Be patient, give them lots of extra love, and give them ‘mental health days’ when they need them.
2. You will have a run-in with a mouldy strawberry
Finding your rhythm with lunchbox packing and cleaning can take a few of weeks, and then it’s fairly smooth sailing.
You’ll give yourself a pat on the back and do a little first pump because, “DAMN. I’m killing this school mum business!”
And then BAM! It will hit you.
You forgot to get your child’s lunchbox out of the boot on Friday afternoon.
Congratulations, mama. You’ve just grown your own little fungus forest!
Pro tip: I’ve got nothing. Set it on fire and buy a new one.
3. Your child won’t eat everything you pack
Nope, they won’t. And worse than that? They’ll play mind games with you.
What’s that? Every celery stick you’ve packed in the last 6 weeks was devoured and now they’re coming home untouched and your child shrugs and has no comment on the matter? Welcome to the Lunchbox Games!
Pro tip: Be a spectator, not a player – don’t put too much emphasis on what’s getting eaten and what’s not. Trust in your child to eat what they need and leave what they don’t, and ask THEM to give you feedback on what they like and what they don’t, rather than asking about each specific item that comes home uneaten. The goal is casual chit chat, not an interrogation.
4. Friends’ lunchboxes are cooler
The grass is always greener, even when you’re 5. After the kids settle in a little, they usually start comparing lunchbox contents. Be prepared to hear about Charlotte’s Roll-Ups and Keenan’s Dorito’s and Ava’s Le Snaks. And you can shout “BUT IT’S NOT EVEN REAL CHEESE! IT’S NOT IN THE FRIDGE SECTION!” as much as you like – they’re still going to want a Le Snak.
Pro tip: Refrain from commenting too much on the lunchbox items their friends have, and come up with your own healthier versions. Try home-made fruit leather, Thomas Chipman corn chips or cheese dip with crackers. Made with real cheese, of course.
5. Hunger + exhaustion = volcano
There’ll be days where you feel like nicknaming your little darling Vesuvius, because they’ll walk out of the school gate ready to BLOW. School is tiring no matter what age you are, but especially so for young kindy/prep kids who are used to their time being their own (meaning naps in front of the TV, if they feel like it).
It took me far too long to realise a big part of this was hunger. (“How could they be hungry with the feast I packed this morning?!”) All it would take was a decent snack to set them straight again.
Pro tip: Be prepared! Don’t wait till they’re home from school to ask what they want to snack on. Have something ready to go, so you don’t spend 15 minutes prepping something while they kick and scream about something unrelated on the kitchen floor. Snack platters are a great idea for after school snacks! They’re big enough and contain enough variety that you won’t have to make anything else until dinner rolls around. Need some inspiration? Check these out.
What else would you add? What did you find out the hard way when your kids started school? Comment below!