I’ve been doing first day of the school year for 15 years now, and every year I see multiple “Back To School Guides” I’ve always wanted to pen my own, and here it is. Years of research has gone into this.
Read, take heed and feel free to add your own. This school malarkey is serious stuff. You don’t want to stuff up.
#1. Buying a lunch box
You don’t require a university degree or to ask the opinion of 647 other people. A container so your kids lunch doesn’t resemble a dead possum by lunch is fine. If you want to spend $100 do it. If you want to buy one from the $2 shop do that. Just buy one. Better still chuck your kids lunch in their bag and stomp on it.
#2. Don’t dress up for school drop off/pick up.
Designer dresses and mugs full of war paint are for after dark only. There is no one to impress in the playground. Pyjamas or tracksuits – preferably stained – with no shoes are the expected attire. If your job pays you enough that you have to dress to the nines you’ll have the nanny dropping off. Tell them to drop and dash.
#3. Sight words
In kindergarten your kid will bring home these god forsaken bits of paper. Words like “I, A and BE” Hold them up. If your kid can say them first go you’ve produced a genius. If not try again tomorrow. Don’t do what a “friend” did and lose it when their kid couldn’t recognise “THE” after looking at it 20 times in a row. Said friend threw the sight words at her husband and threatened to burn them. And him. Not recommended.
#4. Don’t compare reading levels
Do NOT ask other parents what level their kid is on. If their kid is on 10 and yours on 1 you’ll wonder why. Then you will freak out. You should. You’ve turned into a Highly Competitive Mother. Knock it off. Now.
#5. Record your voice
Record “get up. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Pack bag. Get your shoes on” Play it on loop from 6am every day for 13 years. They will do it on their own – on the last day of Year 12 when they are never going back. Save your voice.
#6. Label your kids stuff
Label it in big pre-made labels the size of Texas. If their stuff still gets lost don’t bother looking in lost property. Labelled or not it’s not coming back. Other parents whose kids have lost their stuff that isn’t coming back have stolen it and are unpicking your labels. Right now.
Pack very little. They don’t eat it. Don’t waste time cutting carrots into stars or sandwiches into ginger-bread men. You’ll think you’ve failed as a parent when they don’t consume it. You have. By doing it in the first place.
#8. The canteen lunch order
Utilise this. Minimum once a week and preferably more. Canteen lunches taste FAR better than any of your diamond studded foods. Canteen order leftovers have a higher chance of being binned, saving you from the “my kid didn’t eat today” nervous breakdown.
#9. Kids homework
Exactly what it says. It’s for the KIDS. As tempting as it is to build little Mary’s Opera House diorama? Don’t. The teacher will know. So will the other kids. If by some miracle people think your cherub actually DID do it your child will tell them they didn’t anyway. When your kid has written their 12 x tables perfectly but can’t answer how many fingers they have correctly questions will be asked.
#10. Let teachers be teachers
If your kid has a run in with Johnny do NOT approach Johnny’s parents, aunts, uncle, grandpa or worse still Johnny himself. There’s a 98% chance by 9am tomorrow your kid and Johnny will be best mates. You will look like an idiot. No one in Johnny’s family will speak to you ever again. Ever.