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Is your baby starting School next week? Here are my Top Tips

One year ago today, my little girl started school. My first child (well, after the dog!), my beautiful baby, was leaving me for a whole 5 days a week, and becoming a school girl!

It's a really emotional time. I was so emotional. I cried so much (I'm a total cry baby at times like this). I cried all the way to school, throughout dropping her off, at the parents coffee and cake meetup after drop off, AND when I picked her up. A total mess. Proper ugly crying too. I felt like an absolute idiot.

Anyway, there are so many things I learnt over the last year, and lots of things I found helped me, so I thought I'd share them. I also asked my mum friends for their input too. So if your child is about to head to school for the first time and you want some tips, read on!

Join any Whatsapp/Facebook Groups that have been set up

You might find there is already a facebook group started for the parents of the new starters. Me and another mum started one up last year for the mums to join as the school weren't doing any introductory activities because of covid. We organised a picnic, and several parents arranged various meetups before school through it, which was really nice!

One of the mums then started a Whatsapp group too, which we use a lot for the year group, and lots of other year groups have them too (and it's the same in other schools) so it is a thing. You've just got to do a bit of digging if you haven't found one already! I didn't want to join it at first, but I'm not so glad I did.

They're a great way to get to know the other parents, and share info. Ours is used all the time to check stuff with other parents - what days we're supposed to bring certain things in, or check what the half term dates are... what bugs are going around. It can get a bit busy with notifications but just mute it and check back if it gets too much. It's such a useful resource.

If there isn't one - start one up! Share it around the mums you know, the ones you speak to at the gates, they share it with the mums they've met and so on, and soon enough, you'll have most of the mums in it.

(note - one of these whatsapp groups were involved with adding their top tips to this article. See? Handy!)

Take snacks to pick up

They are RAVENOUS when they get out of school. I was rubbish at doing this at first. But when I did, my tired and hungry child was much nicer. Plus loads of the other parents do too and having something to whip out of your bag when your child gets food envy looking at the other kids snacks is very helpful.

Water Bottles break so easily, make sure you have a spare!

Edie dropped hers in the playground and it smashed. It wasn't even that much of a drop. Really annoying. Aim for the ones made of thick plastic. We had two and the super thick plastic one we bought still lives on after a year of being thrown around. The thin ones have not been so lucky.

Don't expect to get much feedback from the kids

Starting school is pretty exhausting for them, so they don't tend to be in the most chatty of moods anyway. But most of us barely got anything out of our kids about what happened at school. I would ask Edie who she had played with (praying she'd made a few friends) and I'd just get a very frustrated "I don't knoooooooooow".

There's so much to take in at the start, remembering everyone's names is too hard. and there's so much going on that knowing where to start telling you about their day is a bit overwhelming.

You tend to get better answers if you ask direct questions instead of open ones, like "did you do any reading today?" instead of "what did you do today?. Or try "what was the best/worst thing about your day"? or "what was for lunch?" Just ask a couple though or they find it a bit much.

Get Chatty, even if you're super shy or don't feel like it

Chatting to other parents at the school gate is a great way to get to know other mums. You might feel like you have enough friends already, but actually, you'll be seeing a LOT of each other over the next few years. Kids parties, Sports Days, Playdates.... you'll be around each other in some way or another. Might as well get to know each other, and you never know, you might make a new friend!

Have Playdates

Arrange playdates with kids your child seems to be getting on with, so they have a chance to develop that relationship outside of school. It's a great way to get to know the parents too!

Go to a PTA meeting

You don't have to be on the PTA Committee to go to a meeting. PTA meetings are open to all parents/carers. You don't have to volunteer to get involved either. You can just go along for the occasional meeting.

It's a GREAT way to get to know the school better, find out more about what's happening and what events are coming up, and it's actually quite fun to get involved if you do end up fancying it!

I went along to my first PTA meeting so I could have a nosey. We hadn't had a tour of the school or seen inside at all because our kids school applications went in during covid. So I only went to try and get a nosey around the school as the meeting was being held in the school hall.

I actually ended up volunteering and becoming Co-Chair of the PTA along with one of my new friends who came along too. Not that you have to do that - I'm one of 'those' people who can't help getting involved with stuff. But several people came along who never joined the committee, and some have volunteered for some things, and turned up at a few of the meetings. We hold about half the meetings in the local pub which makes it social.

Don't just rush off home - head to the park!

If there's a park or something similar nearby where parents and their kids tend congregate after school, go and join in!

At first, I used to do the pick up, get my head down and scoot off home as quickly as I could. But lots of the new mums and their kids were heading to the park right next to school after pick-up and after a couple of weeks, I gave myself a talking to and made myself go in and strike up conversations with other mums (and I TOTALLY shit myself doing it).

It was absolutely the best thing I ever did. I met the nicest bunch of reception mums that way. We got to know each other while our kids got to know each other too. And we have an awesome friendship group now.

Getting to know a bunch of awesome mum friends has been a game changer for me. We moved back down to Torbay after being in Bristol for 13 years just before Covid hit, so I didn't get a chance to get any friendship groups down here. I had a few friends of course - I grew up down here and have friends who lived here already, but we were in different places in our lives. I had a toddler and a preschooler and was at home a lot, and most of my friends had their kids before me and were back at work full time, and had their own friendship groups down here from schools, work and so on.

Some of the mums I met at the school I really got on well with, and although it was super scary making new friends at nearly 40, it's been wonderful (It's a bit like dating! Do they like me, don't they like me, do I like them more than they like me etc etc). We go out for dinner together, drinks, Theatre shows (one play we saw was terrible and we'll be laughing about that one for years!). They even dragged me camping (still trying to get over that one). And we do lots of fun stuff with the kids together. They also were so wonderful and supportive when we lost my wonderful mother-in-law a few months ago. They are awesome, and I'm very grateful to have them in my life.

So there we go, my top tips for starting life as a school mum! I have no idea if any of these will be helpful, but it was a fun blog to write. I'd love to know if any of these tips helped you!

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