We have seen lots of back to school guides detailing where you should buy your uniform or how you can prepare your child for school but what about Mum? How do you prepare yourself for your child starting school?
I see many of my friends with their children starting school this September and them never having experienced the school run, the playground politics, the missing cardigan(s), the endless birthday parties and the emotional separation. So here is my guide, from a mum who has been there, for preparing yourself for the first year of reception.
Uniform can be expensive but children wear it every single day.
The Schoolwear Association states that, on average, schoolchildren wear their uniform for ten hours a day, nearly 2,000 hours a year, but parents spend more on clothing that their children wear less – only during school holidays, weekends and in the evenings. On average, families shell out £63 per child on outfits for the six-week summer holidays. The research puts the average price of a full primary school uniform in the UK at £33.48 with secondary school uniform at £88.05. Adding PE kit put the figures up to £42.32 for primary and £127.32 for secondary. It is worth getting the best quality that you can afford .
Tip : "Easy iron" clothes are not always "non iron", choose wisely.
Label, label, label.
Uniform gets lost, alot.
It is much easier to lay claim to your childs jumper or cardigan if it has a name label inside it.
Tip: Don't automatically put the label on the inner label as these can be cut out by unscrupulous people. Not suggesting this has happened but it *could* do!
Be prepared for their social calendar to become busier than yours.
During reception, while friendship groups are forming, it seems common practice for every child in the class to be invited to every single birthday party. Depending on your class size, this can mean a lot of weekends taken up in a variety of soft play, activity, entertainment or disco parties. Don't book yourself anything for a Saturday afternoon for the next 12 months.
Tip: Buying presents for 30 children can become expensive, so buy GREAT presents in the sales. Check out the department stores too, such as House of Fraser Toy Department have some great sales on, which means that you can stock pile presents and not have to rush out on the morning of a party and spend much more than you want to. This *may* have happened to me once, trust me you don't want that panic buying frenzy on your bank statement.
You will get a new circle of friends too.
There will be cliques form in the school playground because that is what happens but you may also find some great friendships along the way too. Of course any new social situation can be intimidating but it's worth remembering that if you're worried about making friends lots of other mums will be feeling exactly the same way! There is nothing like sharing important life moments with someone who is going through the exact same things as you, at the exact same time. I have really good friends that I met in the playground some 6 years ago and the bonus is, our girls are still friends too.
Tip : It is useful to get the phone numbers from a couple of mums. This is handy when your child comes home with a strange request, such as "bring in white clothes on Friday" or "wear your own clothes tomorrow", validating this with another mum always gives me peace of mind!
It is okay to cry.
You know this is the time you become that embarressing mum? The one that kisses your child in front of their friends, tells them that she loves them for all to hear and after you have waved them off into class with a big smile, it is okay to turn around and have a little cry. It is a big day for you too!
Tip: Having tissues to hand will score you brownie points with your new mum friends in the playground.
The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) conducted research in 2014 to help understand parents’ anxiety around the start of school. It found that over two-thirds of parents feel anxious about their child starting school with half believing that they are, in fact, more anxious than their child.
Starting school is a new chapter for both the child and Mum (or Dad of course) and the school day is much shorter than you think. 3.15pm comes around really quickly when you are not looking!