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Y’all, I feel like I am in a glass cage of emotion. In less than two weeks, I will officially have a kindergartner. Technically, I have had a kindergartner all summer long, but I’ve really been saying that to psych myself up to the fact that in less than two weeks, I will officially have a kindergartner. In less than two weeks, it will be my daughter’s first day of kindergarten.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about the first day of kindergarten that brings about all of these emotions. Since my daughter was 8 weeks old, she’s been in someone else’s care during the day. She’s been with a nanny, grandparents, sitters, my husband, daycare, and most recently, her new school where she started pre-kindergarten last year.
On her first day of pre-k, she got out of the car, turned around, waved, and said I love you, Mommy! And without looking back, she was gone into her new classroom to make new friends and learn a new routine.
And I may or may not have cried as I drove away.
See, this is the sort of thing that I’m supposed to be teaching my child. I’m supposed to be teaching her how to be independent. How to be self-assured. How to be confident. How to have the life and coping skills to eventually leave the house (… and me…) to live her own life.
I may or may not be a little weepy as I write this.
There are dozens of pins out there on what you need to do to prepare yourself for the first day of kindergarten. The tips range from starting your routine a week early to get prepared for the onslaught to printing out some really cool printables and putting them on your fridge or in your kid’s room so everyone is on the same page for the plan.
Whereas I am clinging to some summer rituals like watching a movie on a weeknight in an effort to hold onto the swiftly fleeting time before real school starts.
And I’ll give you 2 guesses as to whether this plan goes over well with my husband.
At his gentle urging and in an effort to get myself psyched up for the first day of kindergarten, I’ve compiled some thoughts/ideas that may be helpful we can both survive the first day of kindergarten together.
How to Survive the First Day of Kindergarten: 3 Tips to Remember
1. I am prepared to cry, and that’s OK.
Just as my child is going through a rite of passage, so am I! Up until this point, my kid has been teetering on the edge of dependent and independent. Every once in a while, I’ll get a flash of the I can’t do it tantrum, and more often than not, she wants to show me that she’s a big kid and she can do big kid things.
Like calm down her brother. Honestly. Truly. She is exceptionally nurturing and loving in that regard. I could learn a lot from her.
During the summer, she has been pushing past the confines of comfort and trying to do more. She wants to get herself dressed. She wants to cook her own food. She wants to turn on the TV and find her favorite show.
She is ready for her first day of kindergarten.
I’ll admit that my anticipated tears are likely going to be a combination of joy and grief. Joy in that my daughter is becoming more and more of a real person day by day, one of whom I can be exceptionally proud. Grief in that those cozy newborn/infant days will live on only in my memory.
I can vividly remember one day while I was on maternity leave. My daughter would not nap for anything, and I was driving myself bonkers trying to keep her entertained. The fates smiled on me one day, and she tuckered herself out. She fell asleep on my chest, and I didn’t dare move.
With an infomercial on the TV.
And my phone and the remote inches out of reach.
And I couldn’t squirm any further over because I risked her falling or worse waking up.
My husband came home a little while later and rightly wondered what the hell was going on.
I learned that sass whispering was definitely a thing that day.
I’m fortunate in that my daughter still wants to snuggle to sleep, but soothing tones of my heartbeat are no longer a requirement. Now she wants to tell me all about her day and her friends and her games and stories. So yes, I am joyful that she is growing and learning and doing all of these wonderful things… but I’m also sad in that those coos and cries will be no more.
2. We always come back to each other.
To be totally honest, there are some days I’m not sure what I would do if Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood didn’t exist. If you’re not in the preschool television show circuit, Daniel Tiger is an extension of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and it carries on some of the same wonderful messages and lessons that I remember watching on PBS as a kid. And this show has provided so. many. wonderful songs, lessons and stories that I’ve implemented, including this one:
Although Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has given way to The Lion Guard and Danger Mouse, this song has persevered. It helped ease my daughter’s separation anxiety (and mine!). And by the time my son was born, we were both able to sing it to him.
So this song is a bit of a staple in our house.
There’s something really comforting for all of us when we’re reassured that we’ll all come back together. When my husband travels for work, we change the refrain a little bit but sing the same song. When my son feels a little separation anxiety when I drop him off at daycare, I sing the song and reassure him that I’ll come back.
And we’ll probably all sing the same song on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten.
3. Everything is the same, only different.
Ultimately, one day is not going to make a huge difference in my daughter. She will still be the same bright, compassionate, joyful, and intelligent child when I pick her up the afternoon after her first day of kindergarten.
She will still run up to me at the end of the day, a huge grin on her face, and stumble over her words as she tries to tell me all of the great things she did on her first day and all of the friends she caught up with and all of the new friends she made.
She will tell us all about how she’s learning her new teachers and saying hello to her old teachers. She’ll tell us the day she gets to go to the library and what she had for lunch. She will talk to us about circle time and who was the line leader.
Each fall when she starts a new grade, everything will be the same… only different. And each year, things will get slightly more different, but remain slightly the same. I don’t yet know when the tipping point will be, and I sincerely hope that it’ll be years down the way.
And when those years come to pass, I hope that I’ll have this post to reflect back on. Because I will probably cry (and that’s OK!). I know that we’ll come back to each other, even though we’ll be counting days rather than hours. And when we do come back together, everything will be the same… only different.
What are your tips and tricks to surviving the first day of kindergarten (or any other first day?). Tell me in the comments below! And if you know someone that needs to hear this, please share this post.