Saturday, January 28, 2012

What tips would you give someone about to be a school Mum?

I am about to be a school Mum.

Needing to be up and on time every weekday morning.

I have never had to make lunches. Using a creche arrangement for all preschool, a chef came with the deal. I had to place an empty lunch box in to the kitchen and that's it.

I could drop and pick up at my convenience.

We now shall have to ensure the green and yellow hair ribbons are handy in the morning and school shoes, not this weeks favourite sparkly pink numbers, are placed somewhere we can find them.

There are so many things I have no idea about right now.

I am not too worried, in that, 'you dont know what you don't know' way.

Then I started tweeting with some school Mums tonight, (thanks stuffwiththing and traceyb65 ) and I realized that a handbook for new school Mums, written entirely by other Mums was needed.

I don't have the book, so I am asking you, my knowledgable readers, what do you wish you knew about being a school mum? What advice can you give me to get me there on time, little stress, and not in my jimjams.


  1. apart from, Thank you i'm honoured, routine routine routine gets you out the door … this might take a while to cement in place, depending on the keenness of your kindy kid to get to school, and what time they habitually wake up.

    this might be a bit vague, sorry, so here are a few tips that work for me!

    1. make lunches the night before, tucked in the fridge in a coldpak bag, to keep the mornings free …

    2. get your kindy kid used to checking their own bag every morning … a printed list will help: lunch, hat, home reader etc

    3. buy your kindy kid a simple watch and start teaching them how to read it. it's such a grown-up thing for them to have, and might help sooth those, You mean i have to wear the same uniform every day? blues!

    i'm not a real Don'ts person, so just let me say, the classroom is THEIR domain. don't hang around and don't unpack their bags for them … they will settle faster and learn to organise themselves better without you … DO ask the teacher if they have parent volunteers and try to make time if work and other children-commitments allow. even Canteen or Clothing Pool once a month helps your school … and your kids will be awesome proud i guarantee!

    and finally, this is one part of your child's life where the, 'Don't get it perfect, get it done' rule is KING! your teacher will understand if you are a little late (occasionally!), their homework has weetbix on it, they have mismatched socks and unbrushed hair, or turn up in pj pants …

    and just for the record, my oldest starts high school on Monday … i feel like a clueless kindy Mum ALL over again! xt

  2. Great tips Tracey.
    My tip is take a photo for each day of the week with what they need that is different - and have the things needed for each day in the photo or different uniform for sports day. Ir On library day - have a library bag in the photo or news day have them holding words NEWS .

  3. All as above - perfect! The "getting ready the night before" is the best tip, even to shoes with socks inside near front door ( left from day before if that suits. And, if you don't feel pushed for time, everything else will work. Suggest ( sorry Clairey) a wee bi earlier getting up for you in the mornings ( Mr too!) will give you a bit of breathing space before the "let's get breakfast & out of here!"
    As far as the school goes, a bit of watch & wait would be a tip from me, so you get to view the scene & feel the vibe a bit of other mums and as Tracey said after a week or two, there'll be a chance o volunteer

  4. Organise the kids to organise themselves. Do this from Day 1 and they will thrive on the responsiblity. Good luck! And be sure to avoid the outside-the-classroom gossipers. Trust in the teachers - they are incredible people doing an amazing job. X

  5. Thank you :)

    Routine is the key to getting out the door.

    I also agree with letting the children learn to be independent in the classroom from Day 1. Although having said that your child may need some prompting and support to do that.

    Getting to know the other Mums who had older children at the school was a real help for me, as they were able to give tips on things our school did - not all schools operate the same way.

    I've filled the freezer with lunch box treats and try to do that towards the end of each school holiday. Saves some money.

    Heidi's Prep teacher was wonderful and walked new parents through every step of starting school with weekly newsletters and notes if something special or different was happening.

    We didn't get that with Annie's Prep teacher as the teachers father passed away in the second week of first term. That was hard, being a first time parent at the school and having relief teacher for most of 1st term. It was a relief to have other parents who had been at the school to help with my questions.

    Being Mummy I like to look confident and calm to my girls even if inside I'm a seething mess of doubt and confusion. But it also helps to acknowledge to them "I'm new at this too and a bit confused, how about we ask .... " and then we would go together to ask another parent, teacher, office manager or school principal.

    1. Have never been good at filling the freezer for supplies, might have to start changing that practice though.

  6. Some great advice so far! I think one of the big things that hit us first time in was how exhausting it is. Physically and mentally. Our prep needed headspace when she got home from school. Little SIS was desparate to see her but she needed some wind down time. Don't overschedule first term - cruisy is what's needed. The lunches night before doesn't make that much difference at our house but uniform ready does. The other word of advice is another end of the day one - a big hug and "its great to see you" resulted in better communication than "what did you do today?". They do so much stuff that its too hard to respond to that question. Break it into littler bits - was news good? How was art? Did teacher read a good book to you? Not too many questions or you'll get nothing!
    Be an involved parent but not pushy. Try and help out at least once a term - in classroom, canteen, excursion - the class benefits and your kid will love it.
    Good luck. School is a whole new world - a fun one.

    1. I like this. I am not sure how she will go, but we certainly struggled to hear about her day at full day care.

      We have cut gymnastics from the afterschool activities for now too, just to see how it all goes.

  7. I was just coming in to say what Nikki said.

    Starting from day one your child must pack and unpack their school bag and put hat shoes bag away. You must allocate a designated spot so that the child can get to that spot each day and know that all their gear is there.

    We use a cupboard in the garage for school bag,shoe and hat storage.

    Good Luck and tears are okay for the mums too.

    1. Thanks Ellie, I think we might need to add a bag/hat hook a bit lower down. Where I hang the bag is so high she needs a chair to get it. Might send Mr H to Bunnings to get a solution.

  8. I love Alli's advice above. It's so true. Preppies get so, so tired. Expect a few tears and tantrums along the way. I don't mean at school, I mean at home, meal times, bed etc. There is so much to earn even for the most child care/ kinder savvy kids at school.

    Also, never, ever, tell her you will miss her or have missed her. It can make the most easy going child anxious. Yes we miss them, but they don't need to hear that. Tell her you love her, it's nice to see her... just not that you missed her. Same for the beginning of the day. I love you, see you later.

    Also, establish a drop off routine. It can be really comforting for children to know how the start of each school day will go. For me it was walk to the class. Prompt my kids to hang up their bag and then a goodbye. Of course at the start of the year you may be able to go into the class room (I'd certainly hope so) but don't hang around.

    And finally, don't over do the going to school how exciting thing. Yes it is exciting. But too much talk, too much building it up can cause all kinds of anxiety.

    and... good luck. Wear big sunnies and waterproof mascara. As a non crying at the school gate mum, let me just say those nasty tears can sneak up on you. Damn them.

    1. Thanks Naomi, this is really useful, just this week she actually asked me if Immy and I will miss her. I did say we would, but we would be busy and then have to go and pick her up. I will use different words if the questions comes through again.

  9. Ooh yeah just before Easter break you will have one very tired and possibly cranky child. Don't over plan those holidays if you can help it. Chlling at home is a good idea for the first lot of holidays. Even kids who went to daycare will/can still get tired.

    Also I every couple of weeks whip up a batch of cupcakes or muffins and just freeze each one individually. Easy for a treat snack in the lunch box.

  10. Don't be late from a parking perspective.... Schools have notoriously poor parking. Miss6's school is like a 4WD rally every morning from 8:30am, and the parking inspectors come around regularly to fine anyone who dare park in the wrong spot. early. Also helps the kids get to know their classmates as they have the opportunity to play before class.

    This is quite possibly the only non-sarcastic, serious, school mother type advice I've ever sprouted. Going to cover school books now before my school motherly awesomeness runs out.

  11. Tracey is right - routine is King. I write everything on the kitchen wall planner, like what day to remember the library bag, etc. Also pack things in the lunch box that are easy to eat - chopped up chicken might fall out of a sandwich, fruit in jelly can be difficult to open, etc. And lastly, stay away from the gossip mums, but do forge friendships with the other parents - you will be happy for the 'Mother's Mafia' in later years!

  12. Exciting times Claire! I agree with the others. I like doing really simple things for the lunches/morning teas. If its too fancy or tricky to open they get frustrated and lose time playing with their friends. Teachers love the mums that drop off quickly in the mornings ("morning mrs x, how are you ? bye little johnny have a good day!) but not the ones that hang around taking up all their time pretending to be helpful or gas bagging/gossiping with other mums (unless you have legitimate concerns etc). My biggest thing was making sure I didn't forget the 3pm pick-up!! Honestly the day just goes and when you're not used to having to be anywhere at a particular times it takes some getting used to. I've got my 2nd child off to big school this year too. All fun and games. Good luck! Mel x

  13. There's nowt wrong with vegemite sandwiches if you know they'll get eaten. Plus, they freeze and defrost well - so you can make a weeks worth all in one go!

    Make sure she can open (and close) ALL the containers (lunch box, sandwich container, snack container, drink bottle etc).

    Set an alarm on your phone for enough time before the end of school that you can finish what you're doing, get in the car, drive there, get a park and be waiting where you told her you would be in the morning(make sure she knows the Rules if Mummy is Late - my two go sit in the office if I'm not there by 3.45pm)

    I also found that if I really needed to speak to a teacher, I would call and leave a message with the office for them to call me! Even though I work full time, my time is more flexible than theirs.

  14. I have no tips! But I'm grateful for all the lovely feedback from experienced parents. Ta.

  15. Such a good post and such great advice!

    How did she go? How did you go?


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