Your Toddlers’ First Week of School

Tips to help you both get through It!

by Lauren Millman
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Can you believe it? It’s here. It’s finally here. It’s that monumental, auspicious day that not only seemed to suddenly pop up out of nowhere, but the one you’ve been excited for and dreaded, for weeks. It’s the first “coming of age”. And it’s scary. I know, because I’ve been through it three times myself. Now mine are teenagers. A whole ‘nother conversation. I remember it like yesterday. Excited, scared, and nervous at the same time. I think I was more worried about how I was going to get through the day than how they were.

You may be feeling the same way. I was petrified in fact, especially with my first. I had done my research, asked roundabout the pre-school we had finally chosen, driven by it a dozen times, and felt confident this was the place. I met the teachers, the principal, asked as many questions as I could possibly think of to ensure my son was going to be well cared-for, fed, rested, taught as per my expectations, and kept occupied. I had done my due diligence. I felt confident. But that morning, as I kept it all together and drove him to his new second home, I still had pangs of fear. Even as a Parenting Specialist, I was worried I hadn’t done everything I should have to prepare him. And myself. Yes parents, you need to plan a strategy for both of you, because when you drop your little one off, like me, you may feel lost, frozen, and thinking, “what the hell did I just do?”

That first day can be scary for both parents and kids. I’m going to share some tried-and-true tips and strategies with you to make your, and your precious ones’ first day, and week, go a bit more smoothly, even when it feels like it’s not.

Firstly, if you have any lingering doubts or if your spidey-sense is nagging at you about the place you’ve chosen, don’t hesitate to ask around again, and call them on that first day before you go for your first drop-off. Most child-care workers really do understand this is a big deal, and should delightfully and willingly spend as much time with you as you need so that you’ll feel comfortable. Remember, bad news travels faster than good. It’s just the way it is, and the only think you ant to end up doing is to be able to rave all day, to everyone, about how amazing the pre-school you’ve chosen is. So ask away.

Second. Front-load. If you’re a client of mine, you’ve heard this thousand times. It’s a term I made up 13 years ago when I opened my practice, and it’s a technique I apply to everything and everyone, not just kids. No one likes surprises, right. When we Front-load, we’re setting the situation up for the best success possible. It’s when we share with the other person, or our kids, the 5 W’s. What are they? They’re the what, where, when, who, and why, of the upcoming situation or activity. And just for good measure, I always throw in an H for how, because it’s always good to know the “how” too.  Hopefully, you’ve all been front-loading for a week or two now. If not, don’t fret. You can start right away, once you’re done reading this, as I’m sure you will. Make it a short story about what’s going to happen, and how, to create expectation. That way, you’re not putting your child into a situation he knows nothing about and doesn’t know what it visually, as you’ve created it, looks like in his mind.

Third. Speaking of expectation, expect the worse. Normally you’d never hear me say this. It’s counter-intuitive and counter-productive. But in this instance, it’s actually very productive. If you expect the worse, it pre-disposes you to already have some fantastic go-to’s in your basket as to how you’re going to manage the situation. In expecting the worst, you’re prepared. You’re also less likely to loose your cool and get frustrated, because you know you may be emotionally challenged.

Fourth. Here’s a biggie….Stay calm. Our kids know us better than we think they do. Their senses will go on high alert if they sense in you stress, nervousness, upset, or worry. Our job as parents is to empower, and this is their first foray into using that independence you’ve taught them over the last year or so. They’re smart, big, and strong-willed little beings who are about to start doing big things in the world. Remind them they can, that they’ll be great at it, and that you’ll be so proud!

Fifth. The leave. Don’t be too nervous. If you remember anything, and I mean anything, remember this. They will be fine. Take this as your mantra, and use it. You may not believe it, so repeat, repeat, repeat. They will be fine. You, maybe not so much. I was a wreck. I remember dropping my little guy off, leaving, getting to my car, with my list of to-do’s in hand ( I took the day off that day).  I felt lost. Dejected. Alone. And I cried. In my car. Like a baby. It’s OK. We’re human, and even us Supermoms have our moments.  It’s harder on us than it is on them. Take it as recalibration time.

Not motivated in the least to move from that parking spot and go do,  I called a friend and we went for coffee. Thank goodness for #Aroma. That was our go-to place. We cried, complained, vented, wondered if we were doing the right thing, compared notes, laughed, and I was on my way. Make your exit short, sweet, and swift, with no suggestion of worry or nervousness. Save that “til after you leave. That’s for you. For them, make sure you’re upbeat, happy, and empowering. Tell them you can’t wait to hear all about the fun things they did that day. If they cry, cling, or strangle, and my 3 did all that and more, give the teacher your most steadfast “the look”, and they will come help. And please, don’t look back! That’s like the kiss of death for both of you. Just leave. You’ll be fine. They’ll be fine.

Finally, because otherwise this article will end up being way too long, make sure you have a plan in place for yourself if you think this will be hard on you. Keep busy. Plan your day with things to keep you busy and your mind occupied, and let your bestie, hubby, or partner know that if you call, to please pick up, and just listen. The end of the day will come faster than you think.

Some of you will have an easy time. Some of you, not so much. It’s all good. Have a strategy. Make a plan. Front-load. Empower. You’re in the big leagues now–you’ve got big kids! Congratulations! In a month, when they realize they have a say in the world, that they can influence the world, and they begin to get snarky and not listen,  give me a call and we can chat about how you can change that up real fast. I’m a never-ending rainbow of skills, tips and techniques.

Happy first day of school everyone!


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