11 Things Every Mom Should Know Before the First Day of School

My girls go back to school next week, and while I'm not exactly a pro, I have done this before. My youngest will be starting kindergarten, but my oldest is off to second grade.

It's hard leaving your baby at school for the first time. It’s supposed to be. On the bright side: it's preparing us for when they go to college, so we don’t die on the spot from a broken heart. But seriously, don't panic. It's not that bad. Here are a few things I learned along that way that all moms should know before heading back to school.

  1. Buying all the items on the school supply list is like going on a scavenger hunt for the holy educational grail. It's exhausting, exasperating, and you will most likely never (ever) find the last item on the list. Don’t lose hair or sleep over it. If it's that important, the teacher will send a reminder home to you.
  2. Trying to wake a kid (who's been sleeping in all summer) at 6 a.m. for school is like trying to lose 10 pounds on the chocolate shake diet. I suggest starting your routine about three weeks before school starts back. I never do -- but I’m sure it would make life easier all around.
  3. Walking away from your child on the first day of kindergarten is emotionally harder than 13 hours of un-medicated transition labor. I say this from personal experience. It hurts; be prepared. You will cry. Try to wait to collapse in a pool of snot and tears after you round the corner from your child’s classroom. If they see you crying, they may wonder why the hell you are leaving them some place that is so dangerous that you are crying at the thought of leaving them there.
  4. You will feel overwhelming guilt at leaving your child with strangers. You are not a Bad Mommy. Guilt is the benchmark of a Great Mommy! Remember that the next time you're feeling overwhelmed. You feel that way because you care.
  5. For the younger sibling of a kindergartner, every morning is like sending the kindergartner off to war and every pick-up is a victory. Be patient with your wee ones who cry for their older siblings. If you think your mommy heart is breaking, the wee one thinks big sis is never coming back.
  6. Watching your child struggle in social situations is like watching them try to learn how to walk for the first time. You stand back, see what happens, and then you give them gentle nudges in the right direction. If all else fails, you grab them by the hands and show them how it's done. This will be particularly true the first day at a new school. You will want to make friends for them. Don't go all helicopter parent -- practice a little free-range from afar.
  7. The first week of school will be exhausting, overwhelming, and frustrating. It won't be a picnic for the kids either.
  8. You will take three trips to seven different stores to find that the only pair of uniform pants that fit perfectly and don't look too "uniformy" are $200 vintage khakis that were worn by Marcia Brady on an episode of the Brady Bunch. True story.
  9. First day of drop-off, you can be sure that some uber Mommy will walk up to you, call you by your name, and talk to you like she's known you forever while you stand there speechless because your brain is fried from the summer sun. You will have NO idea who the hell she is. It’s okay -- you'll figure it out.
  10. Seeking absolution from your drop-off faux pas, you will feel the need to step up your Mommying game. This can cause you to do something foolish, like volunteer for several different committees. DO NOT DO THIS. Your guilt will pass but those committees will still expect you to show up.
  11. Two last words for you: bento boxes. The stuff they let pass for school lunches doesn't pass the mommy test by any means -- breadsticks, cheese, and some fried something or other do not a healthy lunch make.

What is your one piece of back-to-school advice for moms?

Image via Tom Wang/shutterstock

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