When I got pregnant, everyone and their brother gave me advice about what I should and should not do with a baby in my belly.
“Don’t eat lunch meat.”
“Limit your workout routine.”
Then when I had a newborn, I was given opinion after opinion on how to handle diapers and nap time and breastfeeding. I was told to never let a child “cry it out” and that my boobs would essentially “never be the same”.
I call it…”Welcome to Motherhood: Where Everyone You Know is Now A Baby Expert.” <— an entire post dedicated to the highly opinionated parenting expert. Thank me later.
Then, a few years ago I sent my (now) seven year old off to the big K. Yes, Kindergarten.
I thought I was prepared. I mean, if I can bring a newborn child home from the hospital with no previous training and not only keep it alive, but manage to groom myself and not kill my husband from lack of sleep? Then I should be able to handle my kid entering Kindergarten.
But I quickly learned that not even my Type A personality was ready for what came with “school age” kids.
And the weird thing was? No one even warned me.
Apparently people are too focused on new moms with tiny infants that they forget parents with 5 year olds still need some direction.
Because, as much as I hated those highly opinionated parenting experts back in the day? At least they prepared me for things like poopy diaper explosions and pacifier withdraw.
Now that my middle son is about to register for Kindergarten I thought I’d be “that parent”. The one who offers her unsolicited advice on you just in case you think you know everything.
Because I promise you, you have no clue what you are about to embark on.
5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Child Started Kindergarten
1. The Conversations Become More Interesting
We woke up this morning and I told Bents it was a BIG day for him…KINDERGARTEN registration!
Me: Mommy is sad that you are getting so big.
Him: You always say stuff like that mom. Can’t you just be quiet for once.
Me: Buddy, I’m sad because I love you little.
Him: Yea, I know. And you’re still going to love me when I’m big so I don’t see why you’re so emotional.
If you think hearing your kid use big words like “emotional” before they even enter the big double doors of the school building is fun…just wait until they’ve been in class for 5 days with twenty other five year olds who’s parents failed to tell them not to say things like “sexy” and “penis” at school.
Your mind is about to be blown by their new found vocabulary. You will think you’ve failed as a mother when you get a call from the teacher saying that your son was twerking in class, but I promise you this…
You can do your best to shield your children from inappropriate things all day long, but unfortunately there’s no universal parenting code that requires all parents to do the same. And sometimes you kid’s classmates have older siblings…and the things they learn from those older siblings are now things that they will teach your baby.
I say this because when my oldest entered Kindergarten, he was the one being taught language and words that made my ears hurt. But now that it’s my middle son’s turn? He might be the one teaching your kid some inappropriate things. And for that. I am sorry. #bigbrothersarethedevil
2. There’s A Party For Every Occasion
If you signed up to be room mom, you might want to ask off work for at least 20 vacation days.
I’m exaggerating, but still, count the holidays and then add a few. That’s about how many parties will take place in your child’s classroom. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for all the partying.
At the time, I had a corporate job and didn’t have a gazillion vacation days. In fact, I had zero to be able to dedicate to school parties.
You will feel guilty when you don’t show up and other kid’s moms do. Especially when your son comes home and says, “Johnny’s mommy was there, why weren’t you?”
Don’t value your motherly worth on this one thing.
3. There Is A Fine Line Between Being “That Parent” And Being An Ally For Your Kid
The hardest part about Kindergarten was not wanting to be “that parent”.
You know “that parent”, right?
In one breath, you just sent your baby off to school where they know no one. They’ve been thrown in a class with a group of kids they’ve never met, a teacher they’ve never seen, not to mention, they now have to maneuver a building they’ve never been in.
In another breath, they need to learn to accept change, meet new friends and have somewhat of a sense of independence.
You do not need to call the school daily to make sure that little Johnny doesn’t have a tummy ache after he ate the lunch you packed him. Nor do you need to email the teacher five times a day to “check in” and “make sure everything is going ok”.
If there’s a problem, they’ll call you.
I’m not saying you can’t check on your child. Just don’t do it so often that you become “that parent”. You’ll risk the chance that your child will be the teachers least favorite kid because his overbearing mother won’t stop with the demands, requests, emails and phone calls.
4. The Handouts are Endless…Read Them All
Your kid is going to come home from school each day with a million and eighty seven papers.
Notes, drawings, school assignments, sport sign-ups, newsletters, menus, school announcements…
The list is endless.
Read them. All.
I failed to do this when my son entered Kindergarten and then I wondered why the heck I was lost all the time.
“Oh, I didn’t realize they had to be signed up for soccer by February 21.”
“Wait, there was a spring sing?”
“We were supposed to be bringing in class snacks once a month?”
I’m telling you folks, teachers don’t write newsletters to waste your time. They write them to HELP you. Don’t trash the papers before thoroughly reading through them and marking things in your calendar.
5. If You’ve Been Wiping Your Child’s Butt For Five Years, Stop.
Maybe I’m preaching to myself on this one, but ESPECIALLY with my first born, I was wiping his butt until…well, heck. He’s 7 and still occasionally requests for me to do it. #idont
Teachers are really great at a lot of things, but I’m pretty certain that they don’t want to have to wipe 20 butts every single day. Your kid needs to know how to wipe their own butt.
It will also decrease a lot of stress for them if they know how to do things like this on their own.
I remember that my oldest NEVER pooped at school. He would always hold it until his tummy hurt because he didn’t want to have to ask for help wiping.
Luckily, the middle child has been wiping in his own booty since he was potty trained. The kid is independent.
I realize not all kids are so I’m warning you now, teach them to wipe.
Off to Kindergarten registration we go. At least I’m more prepared this year than last time.
Now excuse me while I go shed a few silent tears. I wouldn’t want to be put in my place by the five year old again. Don’t tell him I’m sad.