So your baby is starting school next week?

Wait, what? Didn’t you just bring them home from the hospital and now apparently they are big enough to go to School? Say what?


But it’s true this time next week for lots of us there will be new Kinders starting School and for lots of you that means some really big changes. Emotionally, mentally, physically it’s a HUGE change for a family but it’s also one of the most exciting. You won’t see a change in a kid more than the first year of their life than you will once they start “big School”.

Harper started last year off an anxious little girl who was more than ready for school, but besides writing her name and doing a mean painting, that was about it. She finished last year almost reading to the level of her older sister. A well behaved, confident and happy girl who loves getting to school every day, learning so much and taking on all the different social parts of school too. It’s a big year. You’ve got this. You both do.


So what are some of my tips for surviving the first year of School? I’ve got some, they might not be perfect, but they are what has worked for our family in our little small Public School.

Rest now

Sure, there’s only a week left of holidays (for some of us at least) but if you can spend plenty of time shilling at home doing all those things you love to do. Go for milkshakes, do puzzles, do drawing, watch movies, spend your time in PJ’s, like before you had your baby when everyone told you to rest? Rest! And soak up their littleness before they grow, it happens too quickly!

Got an anxious kid? Me too!

I had one of those kids that you see being peeled from their daycare and preschool teachers each and every time at drop off. I was the Mum that sat in the car sobbing because WHEN WILL IT GET EASIER? I get it, I really do. Here, let’s pat each others backs. And as one of those Mum’s you will already be overthinking drop off, and tears, and anxiety already. Am I right or am I right? I can tell you that it will be OK and then maybe not OK but then OK. And then really OK. It’s just one of those things that you have to grit your teeth and get through (so many of these in parenting aren’t there?). We started off with flying colours and then after that first weekend and Monday came around again? Yes, no thank you I’m done with School thanks. And after term 1 with Daisy? Yes, no, I’ve done school now. Thanks I’ll skip to University. It’s hard. Plain and simple. But remember that you aren’t alone either. Be confident and reassuring. Maybe hand the drop off’s over to someone less emotionally tied to it all as you (if you can). It might take a few weeks, or a few terms, but you will get there. I swear to you. Talk to the teacher about how YOU are feeling, and about how THEY are feeling. Talk it out, talk it out, talk it out. The more you can identify all the big things they are feeling: scared, nerves, anxiety about toilets, bigger kids, not knowing how to open a lunchbox or undo your School bag the more you can overcome all of those things. Talk to them about how you are feeling and be kind and patient with each other. It will get better. I’m telling you, and I would not lie about this shit. Promise.

Get organised

You are about to be bombarded with paper. So many notes. Newsletters. Things that need to be signed and returned. Homework. Readers. STUFF. All of the stuff. For me I have a dedicated school section/bench/sideboard in the kitchen that houses School stuff (home work folders, readers, notes etc) so if something needs to be done I can look there. As soon as we get in the door from School I empty that School bag of lunch boxes, drink bottles and notes and action immediately. I sign and return money straight away ready to take back tomorrow. My girls can get anxious when teachers remind them about notes asking kids to make sure they have returned x, y or z but knowing that I do them straight away, every time, reassures them that our system means they have been returned every time. It’s a pain, but it’s done. I also file the notes into the back of the diary after they have been sent. Inevitably each note will have details about what to bring etc for a particular day or pick up times, this way I write the details in our family diary (old school week to a page that sits on the bench) and then the note is at the back if I need to check if there will be canteen etc on the day. Does that make sense? Tackle quickly and efficiently! I would also write in your diary, or on a timetable on the wall all the things that happen on each day so you can make a checklist before you leave. Get your little one involved so they can start take some responsibility for what they need: something that the teacher will expect from them. Monday? Check you have your hat, in normal uniform and have your books for library. Tuesday? Hat, sports uniform and money for ice blocks. After a while you will all get into the routine, but to start, a chart or somewhere written down helps.

Shut down any after School stuff

For me, this was just a no brainer with both kids. Especially in term 1. The kids are TIRED. As in TIRED. Melt downs a go-g0, they do not need to be doing any extra circular stuff straight up, they need to come home and chill OUT. Play again. Do the things they used to love to do, to feel safe and comfortable after all that change. I don’t allow playdates much to my kids disgust (for the first term at least) they play enough together at school is what I reckon, and their new friends don’t need to be seeing any meltdowns from them at home (we had a doozy once I am still twitching my left eye over and it was about 4 years ago now). There’s plenty of time for all that stuff….later.

Get to bed early

If there is one thing I am consistent about, it’s getting the kids to bed early. Every night. My friends roll their eyes at me about it, but I just works for us. I roughly use this guide from a few years ago (except now bedtime is usually 7.30pm not 6.30pm). Kinders are TIRED and hungry. In those first few weeks I would roll at 4.30pm dinner! And I would feed that hungry kinder some of the dinner stuff they wouldn’t likely too eat then – so think cut up cucumbers and veggies, tomatoes and Hummus that they will smash when hungry straight after school and then a little while after the rest of dinner. Filling up on arvo tea stuff when you are trying to get them to bed early just never works for me so we have almost like a mini dinner early around 4.30pm, get bath and pj’s on so you are chilling out by 6pm reading and doing quiet things. If you are hungry again then you can always have some more fruit or yoghurt. I think an early bed time just makes for a better nights sleep for everyone. If you start off at 6.30pm and there are shenanigans for an hour or so the end point of that is earlier than it would be if you started at 8pm right?

Don’t stress

If you are a control freak, like, um, me you will want to make sure you are doing everything right. You’re both learning and working it out, and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll forget books for library one day, or wear the wrong uniform, it’s OK. Everyone makes mistakes to start, and it all doesn’t matter in the end. You’ve got this. You both do.


There’s probably a gazillion other things to think about, but that’s my brain dump for the moment. Try and enjoy the moment. It’s a big deal, and you should allow yourself to be in that bigness. So far that little baby has been taught and guided by you. You’ve taught them everything they need to know and now is the time for you to let them go a little. Hand them over to those wonderful teachers to do the big stuff. The letting go is always hard, but you make sure you stop and think about ALL you have done to get them here. Well bloody done my friend!

Bob Dylan says it best I reckon in his beautiful song Forever Young.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Good luck friends, with everything. At the end of this year you will be amazed at these little kids that turn out to be determined, smart, funny, confident, a sponge ready to take on the world. You will not believe what they can do in a year.

You’ve got this, you both do.

So tell me, what have I missed?
Got some good tips to pass on to those first timers?
Hit us up!


  1. Oh this! So much this! I’m a year away and I am ALREADY freaking out. Thanks for making me feel better about what is to come.

  2. Beautiful post Beth one of your best you nailed it. Wish I had read it 19 years ago.

  3. Right through primary I reused a weekly calendar I made. A4 size with table on for M-F with each day divided into school & after school (could also do before school if needed). This was laminated. I printed out a page of words eg library, homework due, dance type things & laminated these too. Each year when the teacher told us what was on each day I blue tacked them onto our week. If there were changes during the year I altered as needed. I put old advertising magnets on the back to stick it on the front of the fridge. It was easy to check each day exactly what was happening & because it was laminated it lasted right through primary. There are probably other, easier ways to do this now. My “baby” is going into year 8 this year so I first made this quite a few years ago & thought I was quite clever 😉 but the general idea behind it is still useful.

  4. Beautiful Beth. My baby is starting big school. So it’s all new again after being all new again two years ago when we moved to Brisbane. The uniform is WAY to big. The shoes look adult-sized (because they are!) and I’ll probably cry like I always do. EVERY YEAR – 16 years since the first school drop off. I’ve been warned the first term is just madness and tiresome just like when they had their first term in Prep (QLD for Kinder). Thank goodness Easter is early this year. xx

  5. Here’s an amazing tip that might save your butt like it saves mine — use your iPhone to take a photo of every school letter & note!

    Snap that photo as soon as you see the school letter…

    No more searching through school websites or looking for the lost piece of paper. You’ve got a picture of it on your phone. This is especially good for camp lists, excursion letters, etc, when you need to shop for supplies. The list is already on your phone.

    Roll on, 2016! Our kids are so lucky to be educated in such an incredible country…truly.

  6. Ange Morrison says

    What an awesome post. I have been silently struggling with the idea that my baby is off to school next week and reading this has set off the water works. I think we will be rolling a few early dinners in the next few weels

  7. Ah yes yes yes. I am so with you on the notes and paper from school. We have a grade 4 and a grade 1 this year and I have finally started a folder for all the school stuff. That is a great idea. My only extra tip would be read the newsletter with your diary next to you. I wait til it’s a quiet time, read it word for word and note everything in my diary. May the force be with you all.

  8. Thank you Beth, my baby is starting Kindergarten next week and this was exactly what I needed to hear!

  9. it gets so much easier in high school. Few notes, they barely take library books out let alone read them, they do their homework with minimal help or nagging, if they forget lunch – their problem! If anything is left at home not my fault. Two of them are insisting they need zero stationery this year, as they told me they will recycle last year’s stuff. I’ll roll with that! Year 13 (your year 12) is in mufti for the first time ever and needed 4 exercise books – done!

  10. Ha mine are in year 4 and 6 ! but I suggest finding another newbie mum and going for a stiff coffee after the first day dropoff, enjoy some cake a cuppa

  11. Thank you from a teacher for saying bedtime matters. It’s so hard for little people when they are exhausted at the start of a busy day.
    Great advice!

    • No worries – always SO important with my kids. I get so much eye rolls from friends though I just couldn’t let them stay up they would be disasters.

  12. These are wise words indeed… The school notes, reams of paper, constant requests / changes etc are my nemesis.

    Mine are at two different schools now which quadruples the complexity for some reason. I have a whiteboard on which I’ve used a permanent marker to draw a weekly grid. Then we use a whiteboard marker to add the things we need to remember. Which days for sports uniforms, musical instrument, early starts, sports training, show n share etc etc. It helps – and everyone can see it. The rule is that you need to look at the board and make sure you’re packed for the next day before any post dinner free time activities.

    Totally with you on the early dinner thing too. No cakes or sweet arvo tea here. If you’re hungry it’s veges and hummus or avocado. Takes the pressure off dinner too – if they’ve had the veges early, dinner can be simpler.

    Good luck everyone!

  13. Tania Simmons says

    My #2 did not go so well after the first week of kindy, she kicked (the teachers) and screamed and latched on to the verandah railings and I could not detach her (power to weight ratio has always been off the charts with this one – small but mighty) the Principal (who had also one of their own children go through this) had to peel her off and (after seeking my permission) simply picked her up by the arms, still kicking and screaming, and calmly carried her off to the classroom. It was a struggle for a few months but you just have to say goodbye, kiss, wave, walk away and the best piece of advice was DON’T LOOK BACK. No matter what you hear, no matter how your heart breaks keep on walking. Teachers have done it all before and the parent who comes back to fix it is actually making it harder. Once she began catching the school bus there was great improvement, she could leave me but I couldn’t leave her. By the end of the year (sorry I can’t remember the exact turning point) she had developed a deep love of learning and now she is going into year 4 and an excellent student. School is now her “happy place”, she is currently “bored” (insert eye roll here) and was heard asking this week “why do we even have to have holidays?”. So for any mums who do encounter the struggle, hang in there, some take a few days, some take a few week and in our case a little longer but it does get easier.

  14. Excellent advice! The pin board for all the shizzz gets me through!
    And I think I talked waaayyyy too much when I sent my first off too school and the poor kid had so many ‘things’ to remember! Second time round I just simply said ” listen to the teacher and have fun!” Was a much better approach for all of us…and even though I’ve been very fortunate in the whole settling in thing with both my kids at school, it worked well for us. But now my 3rd baby is about to start little kindy one morning a week ( and has already told me I do not stay and need to leave quickly ha!) but my last baby at kindy…how the heck did that happen!?!

  15. My baby starts school next week and I am excited, anxious and emotional all rolled into one. It can go either way, bye Mum and off she goes or the tears hence my anxiousness. She is excited which helps but Friday will be the day hers and my life changes forever (emotional). I will miss my one on one time with her between kinder and school pick up but she is ready and that’s all I can ask for.

  16. Oh Beth! What lovely advice. My baby starts school in a weeks time. I am so nervous. She had 3 classroom visits last term & came home after each one saying “I don’t think school is really my style. I think i will just stay home with you mummy!” Oh dear…. xxx

  17. Oh Beth, my baby starts e-kindy this year and I can’t wait to boot him out over to the school room… but then it is a little different for me isn’t it… he just trots across the lawn to his own school room…. so I don’t really get it. Although Tom did go to a “real” school for a few weeks when he was in year 1 and to my astonishment I was nearly in tears dropping him off… shocked the shit out of myself. I also may be a wreck next year when we drop him at Boarding School – only a 3 day drive away!! ha ha ha.

  18. My twins (also my first borns) are starting on Friday 29th! I can’t believe it. I will actually miss them loads and I am nervous for them. I love them to bits and I am so proud. I know they are as ready as they will ever be and not ready all at the same time. Thanks for this list I love the idea of just sorting notes, payments etc immediately!

  19. Carla Moulds says

    Beth, love , Bob Dylan Forever Young. ,my eldest was smarter than me at about five, I felt I was always running to keep up with her. She is 35 this weekend. She loved school, loved her independence but she most loving mum imaginable. I wished for this strong woman and I got her.Keep up the good work Time goes quickl and they grow up so fast

  20. My two go in to year 1 & year 4 & I have just gone back to work full time. BUSY. And I have been stressing about trying to fit in their extra curricular activities but after reading this I’m reminded that there’s just no need to do that extra stuff, in Term 1 at least. I had that rule last year & it worked well but with me being back at work this year I felt like they’d some how be missing out. Mother’s guilt, as always. Thanks for the reality check!

  21. I agree with everything but one, the playdate. The playdate has been absolutely essential in getting my kids to settle into school well, they’re on the shy side and being able to form bonds with a special friend away from school helped them all to settle into school so much better.

    It can be as simple as hanging around in the school playground to run out some energy after school with some new mates (often better on neutral ground), but building that friendship away from class time has always been key for us (especially moving to new schools).

    We’re about to do the whole new city/school change, so organising the playdate will be high on my agenda!

  22. I’m freaking out but in a different way. This year I only have one child left in school, my baby, and he is in grade 11. Midlife crisis melt down coming my way x

  23. My little middle man is starting kinder this year and he is raring to go!! The pain of it is going to be made a little easier by the fact that I’ve still got his little sister at home for a few more years!!

  24. Be open to a coffee date with other Kindy Mums to help cope with day 1 blues. Where possible be available to help at school. Kids love having their parents come in for reading/canteen duty. I’m now a Year 1 mum and the mums I’ve met through school will be friends for life. We chat, we coffee, we indulge in the odd wine or 2…. we’ve shared a big part of our child’s history together

    • Good tips – I helped out reading for the first few terms for Harper and it helped her knowing I would be in there on a Wednesday morning. Thanks for the reminder!

  25. Look no further, I wrote a book about this exact topic. It’s from 20 yrs of experience in schools. Yes, now I am a mother on the other end. Gasp.
    So feel free to check it out:
    Primary Schooling: Must have guide for parents
    Available at

  26. Josie Mcbride says

    Great post Beth thank you. I could not agree more on the “play date” advice…,really hate using that word by the way. To avoid the dreaded play date business we sometimes hang around in the school playground for a bit after school. I throw my kids an apple for a snack while they hang out with their new friends and their siblings and you get to check out kids parents. I always try to have something easy for them to snack on when they get home to avoid meltdowns.
    The best advice I could give..if anyone cares, is to not ask the kids too many questions about their day.
    And enjoy those precious few hours without them. It’s good for everybody x

  27. Thanks Beth and those are beautiful words from Mr Dylan, I think Rod Stewart sang this song too… and beautifully. My baby just started school here in the UK and she held it together (it helps that she has older siblings to hold her hand at recess for a bit) Where does the time go?! I’m focussing on the good bits (enjoying her achievements) and coffee for me. Love to your beautiful girls for a fabulous year ahead. LizX

  28. A home for all paperwork school related is essential, I agree! I also find it really helpful to have regular alarms on my phone that remind me what to prep for the next day. At 6 each night I get a reminder to pack a library bag, or recorder etc. Then I just throw it in the bag, if I haven’t already remembered to.

  29. You’ve pretty much covered it all here Beth. The notes… oh my, I had no idea the volume of freakin notes! The only thing I’d add is to take tissues! 😉

  30. I just cried the ugly cry reading this… at work!

    Thank you, perfect timing to read this… we start on Monday with my eldest, who also has high functioning Austism/Aspergers. We have worked so hard with therapists and on our own over the last year to get him ready for this moment and now its here.

    He is pumped and ready to take on the world… his Mumma on the other hand is sitting back so insanely proud of him, but so sad that right after he was born I blinked and now he is a big Kindy Boy.

    Time – please stop.

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