8 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Day of School

first day of school

It's back-to-school time for many families, and with that can come a range of experiences and emotions. My son will be starting fourth grade this year, and I've come to learn a thing or two about the first day back. And, I've already started taking notes from friends on what's to come with high school and beyond!




Here are the things I wish someone had told me before I restarted this whole school adventure (this time, as a mom) ...

1. Back-to-school shopping is hard-core.

Back in the day, back-to-school shopping involved picking out your favorite Lisa Frank trapper keeper and a few folders to go with it. These days most schools send out itemized lists that will send you to Target and Staples for the most intense scavenger hunt of your life. In fact, the moment I received my son's list for fourth grade, I knew that summer's end was close by. And nothing says summer like standing in Target while your child takes an hour to decide between the navy blue backpack and the dark blue backpack.

2. There will be homework. For YOU.

This one is a surprise for first-time parents especially. There are two types of homework involved in school: your kid's and yours. And don't be surprised if yours is harder than your kid's. For example, our son's school sends us all the files we need to sign via email, which is helpful -- no lost paperwork! But, for some reason, this year I struggled with trying to get a PDF document to accept my darn signature on three different pages. I finally gave up and emailed the documents -- sans signature. Hopefully I won't get sent to the principal's office.

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3. It might make everyone cranky!

Summer can be a time for many families to relax rigid rules and schedules, including ones around sleep. At least, that's how it goes in our house. Summer starts and bedtime is around 8, then 9, then 10, then … whenever. We're more lax; we don't have the same routine. I've quickly learned that we need to start returning to routine about two weeks before school starts unless I want a repeat of last year's screaming match because WE'RE ALREADY RUNNING LATE AND IT'S ONLY THE FIRST DAY DAMMIT.

4. You might not get that Pinterest-perfect First Day photo.

And that's okay! Maybe your kid isn't into the outfit you hoped they'd wear. There was probably a great sale and you got the cutest dress with coordinating cardigan but all your daughter wants to wear are her rainbow striped tights, bright pink tutu, and favorite basketball jersey. I've already given in to the fact that despite that brief two-month period when he was into tight jeans, my son has a "fashion" sense that consists of sweats, gym shorts, and anything made of 100 percent polyester. Ugh. So, while you might not want to post the picture on Facebook, trust me when I say you'll get tons of likes, hearts, and laughing faces from those of us who have been there.

5. You'll probably cry.

But don't worry, you're not alone. Apparently parents are five times more likely than their kids to cry over the first day of school. So that makes me feel much better about having cried myself. Thank goodness I purchased extra tissues during back-to-school shopping.

6. It's okay if you don't cry!

While I may have sobbed like a baby on my son's first day of pre-K, the next year I didn't shed as much as a tear. And you know what? That's okay! Parenting is hard, and even the most devoted stay-at-home folks understand the value of having a break from the kids. So, if you're not weepy at all, and only breathing deep sighs of relief (whether at alone time at home or time to go back to work), that's perfectly fine and normal!

More from CafeMom: I Never Thought I'd Homeschool -- Until My Kids' Happiness Was at Stake

7. You might need to let your kid fail.

While that sounds harsh, there's some actual benefit there. It may not happen on the first day, or even the first week, but there will come a time when your child will forget his homework or his gym shoes and you may even get a call requesting that you drop everything and bring it to him. And you're going to want to. You're going to want to so much. Trust me, the day I got home from drop-off and saw my son's homework, I struggled to figure out what to do. Sure, my son was angry when he got home, but it was a growing experience for both of us.

8. It will all be okay.

Whether your child is off to her first day of preschool or his first day of college, it can be hard for any parent to let go. Tears (either from you or your kid!) are understandable, but know that they will be okay and so will you, eventually. Sending your children off to school by themselves might feel like one of the hardest things you'll have to do as a parent, but trust that you're sending them off confident and comfortable with themselves and what the larger world has in store for them.


Image via iStock.com/SolStock

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