Starting school is one of the biggest milestones in a child’s life – and the parent’s! It’s an enormously exciting time for the family, but can be a challenging, stressful and anxious time too.
My first born starts school this year and so far our preparation has been nothing short of busy and a bit confusing. Mostly for me! For my daughter Ava, who starts school in just a few weeks, it’s the most exciting time of her five-and-a-half-years of life to date. She can’t stop talking about school. Me? I feel completely unprepared. All my friends whose children have started school before mine smile a knowing smile when I tell them how unprepared and uninformed I feel about the whole process.
And I’ve been genuinely surprised by the whole process – and it is a process. I had taken for granted I would know all about starting school: school bag, uniform, lunchbox… after all, I’ve been to school!
I realised I had been so consumed in the emotions of the event that I suddenly became unprepared with all the timetables, orientation events, forms to fill in, apps to download, documentation, information nights, and so on.
I felt completely overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done. Plus, administration aside, do they wear a uniform? Where do you buy the uniforms? How many do I buy? Do I buy Winter now, or wait ‘til she grows? Does she need a drink bottle, or drink out of the taps? Are there still taps at school? Where do I buy the shoes? And they are HOW MUCH?
My mind is so full of deadlines and information, not to mention I’m still coming to terms with the fact that MY BABY IS STARTING SCHOOL!
After having my third baby last year, (meaning I had three children under four at home) I had only just begun to feel I was on top of our day-to-day schedule. The busy routine of three different ages, their individual needs and all the different stages of development they’re at. And now that’s all about to change.
Working in the corporate world part-time and having my daughters attend long daycare has meant that morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea snacks have been taken care of by the daycare centre. I realise now that being able to drop them off and pick them up around my work hours, and not having to prepare snacks and lunches every single day has been a luxury (one that I pay for handsomely, mind you).
Intent on being as prepared as possible, I’ve become obsessed with stalking more organised mums on Pinterest and Instagram to see how they pack their school lunches. I admit, it has been QUITE a long time since I was at primary school, and we’ve come a long way from the vegemite sandwich wrapped in plastic and soggy black banana at the bottom of the school bag. Urgh.
Compartment lunchboxes are the best I’ve found! I’ll be getting one of these compartment lunchboxes to pack some variety for her lunch and snacks, as well as a soup canister for the winter months.
I now need to think about the food she will take and how to keep it fresh and cool, so not only a lunchbox but an insulated lunch bag is recommended, as well as a water bottle. She is very excited at the prospect of getting all these new essentials, but again, I find it all a bit overwhelming.
But I do love the idea of using a separate lunch bag to keep her lunch, snacks and drink all together and insulated in her schoolbag. Not absolutely necessary, but very practical all the same. Especially as the Preps all sit inside with their teacher to eat their lunch before they go outside to play, so this makes it really easy to just get her lunch bag out of her schoolbag for mealtime.
There’s so much more to school now.
They all wear hats for a start. No hat, no play, so they say. So buying a school hat is now part of the uniform budget. And what a budget it is! Summer dresses, sports skort (shorts at the back, a skirt at the front... don’t worry I didn’t know either!), a polo t-shirt, a winter dress, a bomber jacket, a fleecy vest, several pairs of tights, skivvies, school shoes, a backpack…
Though having three girls I must say, I am relieved there’s a uniform at our chosen Primary School. Avoiding the daily ‘what should I wear?’ routine and multiple outfit changes in the mornings is going to be a HUGE time-saver and in the long run, save me a lot of money in ‘Frozen’ leggings and fairy dresses.
And having school shoes that they all wear is also a relief. For a five year old she certainly has amassed a huge collection of shoes: sandals, thongs, ballets, Mary-Janes, sneakers and so on, that having one dedicated pair of shoes to wear will be so much easier. I’ve only just started researching school shoes but I do like the look of the rubber soles and Mary-Jane styles with valcro straps that are sturdy, practical but still look stylish. Once we go shoe shopping I’m not sure my opinion will count for much though!
There’s even a school app I need to download to place lunch orders, read newsletters and stay in touch with updates from the school. Wow. And, so I’m told, some children even have iPads! Huh? My darling Ava who just 5 minutes ago, it seems, called herself ‘bubba’ and left finger prints all over my windows would need an iPad?
Thankfully, not just yet. They still have pencils and paper and a wonderful library full of books she’ll no doubt be bringing home before long. This reminds me – library bag!
When I was at school my mum MADE my library bag out of leftover material from curtain fabric. I think I also had a matching art smock and swimming bag. Practical, affordable, but not very durable. Or stylish!
Now there’s a whole gorgeous range of library bags and swimming bags perfect for school. Keeps everything organised, flat, dry and separate from the rest of the things in the school bag.
With all of the essentials taken care of the only thing I need to prepare for now is how we’ll go on ‘the big day’.
Check out some of our Top Tips For Preparing Your Child for starting school And good luck!