Every time I enter into a new phase of parenthood, I look back and silently congratulate myself for making it through. When my son “graduated” from daycare and into a “real school” last year, I remember feeling eager for things to get easier now that he was going to school.
I have no idea what I was thinking.
My first year as a mom of a school-aged kid (ok, he’s in Pre-K but he is at an actual school) has been full of lessons. Here are ten of them.
1) Read the newsletter. This one hit me a few times this year. The words “Oh, it was posted in the newsletter” are like nails on a chalkboard. I’m sorry, but who has time to real all newsletters in their entirety? Not this mom. But if you want to stay on top of important things like the dates changing for no-school days, you better make the newsletter a priority.
2) Nothing beats daycare hours. As a full time working mom, I miss the days of being able to pick up my kids a bit later in order to run some errands or even get an occasional pedicure. These days, my afternoons consist of me racing out of work as often as I can to avoid having to pay for extended care.
3) Packing lunches and snacks are hard. Some daycares don’t provide food. Ours did. So packing two snacks and a lunch 5 days a week was quite the adjustment. I signed up for those pizza Fridays before September was even over. As if that weren’t enough, our school doesn’t allow any nuts. Peanut butter, almonds, almond butter. Nope.
4) You will have to date other moms. Gone are the days of my son’s friends conveniently being my friends’ kids. I have entered the stage of asking moms if their kid will play date my son.
5) Your kid will amaze you. I am astounded with the progress my son has made this year. In September – I am not kidding – he couldn’t even color inside the lines. Now he is counting money, adding and subtracting, and yes, thankfully also coloring in the lines. We have also been blessed with an amazing teacher who I wish could just follow him all the way through college.
6) You may see the areas they struggle in. My son’s progress has amazed me, but I have also been taken aback by realizing there are some areas he is struggling in. As a parent, that can be a hard pill to swallow.
7) Schools have a lot of half days and days off. I’m not saying the teachers don’t deserve some quiet time to plan curriculum or just have a day off but I am saying that there is a selfish part of me that gets overwhelmed with planning child care on those days. Don’t even get me started on my massive calendar I have for June-August when it comes to organizing summer camp scheduling.
8) Homework takes two. Sure, my son only gets homework on Fridays and it’s Pre-K so it’s nothing crazy. But sometimes I feel like it’s just one more thing added to MY plate. I love when his teacher holds them accountable for remembering to tell us things related to weekend homework. It’s a skill they are going to have to develop. There is a long road ahead of being the homework police, since I tend to default into micromanaging my household.
9) Organization is critical. Sometimes I want an award at the end of the day for just keeping my kids alive and well. Load onto that all the things like homework, school calendars, packing lunches and newsletters to keep up on; it can seem like a recipe for disaster. I am still figuring out the best system that works for me but I do know that lack of organization is sure to lead to failure somewhere down the road.
10) You did it! Having a school aged kid means you have had some huge accomplishments. You have survived stages that at times seemed like they would never end. It seems like yesterday yet also decades ago that I was a zombie walking around from sleep deprivation. There were moments where I was at my wit’s end with potty training and was convinced he would go to college in pull ups. Having a school aged kid means you have come far, mama. Give yourself a pat on the back!
What lessons or tips could you share? As a mom who is just starting this chapter in my life, I would love to hear from you!