Surviving parenting the First year of High School

Tomorrow we reach the end of Daisy’s first year of High School. It’s done. Quicker than any year of Primary school by at least two times. GONE. DONE. How?

First day of Kindergarten 2012
Last day of Primary school 2018
First day of High school 2019

I cannot believe how well Daisy has done this year. It’s been a question I have been asked over and over agin this year, I suppose lots of friends and family were worries about how she would have gone from a tiny small public school (just 35 kids in total for the whole school Kindy to Year 6) to a bigger school with LOTS more of everything happening.

She has THRIVED. Rob and I are so proud of everything she has achieved this year: she has attacked everything with confidence and enthusiasm and has done so well. I honestly am beyond words with how proud we are. She is happy, we are happy. Well done!

But for anyone who is starting this new adventure next year here are some things that I have noticed which are different from our years in Primary.

1. Highschool is hands off

And I am OK with that. You know at Primary you can do drop offs and pick ups, assemblies and the like, well for us it has been wave you off on the bus in the morning and then see you later. That’s been a big adjustment, the letting go and handing over to school in a way that is so much more hands off. It’s great for everyone (kids have to step up, teachers can get on with it without interference) but it’s been a change for sure

2. Find a friend who has done it before (as a Mum)

I found myself at many times through the year having NO clue about how things work. Like when it was the first morning that Daisy had to be dropped off for the bus for early Saturday sport I had no clue how it worked. There was no info on it anywhere. Or when she forgot her canteen card. Or when she had to be picked up for an appointment – I had no clue how this stuff worked (and either did she and she was NEVER going to ask someone, how embarrassing) so the help from mates who had older kids at the school was amazing. Also become mates with the office staff who can help you out and answer your stupid questions about how things work. LOTS of time we all fumbled through this together – the kind leading the blind with lots of smiles and pretend confidence from me as I assured her it was all going to be OK.

3. The driving, dear me the DRIVING YOU GUYS

With sport commitments (Daisy has to play one sport per winter or summer) which meant 2 training sessions after school and sports on Saturday, PLUS debating and other stuff, well let’s just say we have done a LOT of driving. ALL THE DRIVING. Not helped by where we live and the lack of public transport (there is only one bus that comes out this way that leaves straight after school) so there was a lot of extra trips back and forth. But! Those times can be blessings as you have a chance to chat about the day. Phones away in the car – it’s time to look at the sunset and chat. The safety of the car has been a sanctuary for us both throughout the year – music pumping us up or calming us down as we went off to do stuff we had no clue about.

4. High School can bring up so much of YOUR stuff

While Daisy has been going through a lot of changes and navigating it all, I must say that it brings rushing back memories of your own time at school. If you are anything like me, you will still feel like you are 24 and so school seems like it was not that long ago (I don’t want to hear it was actually 25 years ago, hush now). The dramas, the fears and worries, the things you wish you could have done come rushing back and you may (ahem) thrust them upon your own kid. This is not about you, not a way to right wrongs you know? Reflect, move on and give advice when you think it might be useful.

5. Take some quiet time together

For us this has been the mornings. I have been up early all year (like 5 am early to get work done) and the time we have together has been so lovely. No phones or technology, I have made her breakfast and tea pretty much every morning and it has been lovely.

6. Technology is everything and you need to be boss. Ish

One thing we need to work on next year is technology. Daisy has everything on her laptop – she does her homework on it (most subjects have modules done online) she also watches her entertainment through it – and does it all in her room. Its impossible to know what she is doing all the time – mostly on her bed. We need to work out the balance of homework and free time and the difference between the both better. THIS IS HARD, for everyone. Boundaries are essential and annoying but look how addicted we all are to our own devices, what hope do children have of self regulating? So this is something we definitely have to work on next year.

7. You get out what you put in

Isn’t this true for everything you do in life? And for Daisy this has been HUGE. I put down her confidence and willingness to try stuff from everything she learned from our small school. Being in a small group means you have to get on with who is there – kids older and younger than you, it’s like being part of a family (which we know can be sometimes good or bad but you just get on) so she has been willing to try things with kids of different years: debating, the school magazine etc – it’s made a big difference to her ability to meet people and try new stuff. Maybe she won’t always be like this but I am so proud of the way she has tried so much, embraced it all and thrived. I have tried to help out when I can to – doing a shift on canteen and helping out if I can – its not been a lot so far but we will be playing a very long game with Maggie finishing school when I am in my seventies.

End of Year 7 2019

We are both still learning, and we have many, many, MANY years before we are done with High school and I am no expert in it all – in fact, I have been more clueless than most, but I am SO proud that we have done it – fumbled our way through new technologies and systems and people and STUFF and come out the other end still smiling (and talking to each other, ish). I know the hardest is yet to come, so many people love to tell you how awful it is going to be, but right now we will keep fumbling, keep talking, keep admitting our mistakes and celebrating our successes as we go.

What would you add in here for surviving year 7 as a parent?
Got any wisdom and advice for us all?
And if you are finishing up primary school like us last year, it’s emotional and big, cry away.


  1. Congratulations to you and Daisy! My youngest (of four kids) just completed year 7, so I feel I can add a few words of wisdom.

    Get onto the year level Facebook page – if there isn’t one, create it. It is such a great resource for questions like “which uniform do they wear for the geography excursion?” to “is it an early finish on the last day of term?” It’s also a great way to interact with other parents and organise coffee mornings etc, especially as high school is so hands off.

  2. No devices in the bedroom at bedtime until you graduate year 12. My daughters phone receives messages at all hours of the night while she is sound asleep. I have no idea how those kids cope with everyday life with such a lack of sleep.

    • I absolutely second this. We are just about done for year ten. My baby is almost a senior. *sobs*

      We stopped technology in the bedroom after year 7 and the difference it made is phenomenal. Huge reduction in anxiety, better sleep patterns. No teen should be constantly switched on. It’s too much.

  3. I have had to learn to be A LOT more relaxed about things as my kids hit high school & beyond. With 1 out of high school ( almost 20!!!) & 1 going into year 12 I have had to accept that there is no “ online” life & “offline” life. It’s just LIFE! This is hard to get your head around & accepting that our kids see tech WAY differently to me has been a massive learning curve.
    Letting go & trusting that your kids will do the right thing. You’ve got to give them space to make choices & just hope to god they’ll make the right ones. This has come back to punch me in the face a few times but I keep the thought that essentially my boys are good people, they do their best & when they don’t hopefukjy we all learn from it.
    Accepting that you no longer okay a huge role in your kids life has been the biggest thing for me. They have friends I don’t know, I don’t know most of their friends parents & I haven’t met all their teachers. You go from managing their whole lives to just being a consultant. Sometimes I have to throw out the “ whole you still live under my roof….” line just to remind them that I still have a say in some aspects of their life.
    The teen years are a MASSIVE learning curve for us all. And yeah, it can be so hard, so heartbreaking, so mind fucking but it’s also SOSOSO good! It’s like all aspects of parenting, it’s all the things all the time. Mostly my heart just doesn’t know how to cope with all the love I feel for my kids. Even when they are driving me spare.

  4. We still have two weeks to go of Year 7 here for Miss G. I’m glad she doesn’t finish before Master T as I’m pretty sure we’d kill each other. G has thrived in high school, the duck to water event happened on Day 1, and it continued throughout the year. Lots of head nodding going on here as I read your post! Keep up the good work Beth!!

  5. Thank you Beth. Im not a morning person so I have tried to have occasional after school catchups with each of my (4) kids on their own. So much of family life is logistics and crowd control!! I take them out for afternoon tea at a local cafe (usually they can choose) and have a proper catch up. They feel special and I am focussed.

    I have also sometimes done it with all the kids if the household is getting frazzzled so we can have a talk about what is causing a problem or needs to change. More expensive with a crowd of us but it is a family meeting and people listen & talk better away from home, and having a treat.

  6. I agree with everything you have said….and a comment from above that in primary school you manage their whole lives and then when they go to high school you are just a consultant. Less photos of my kids now they are in high school as we take 2 photos a year….one at home on the first day and one at the awards ceremony at the end of the year. Lucky for me one was in music concerts so that was an extra half dozen photos…no more swimming carnival, book week, assemblies, excellence of learning, cross country, sports carnival photos now. I have always been a “no technology in the bedroom” and prior to both mine entering high school there was no technology before 9.00 am on weekends and holidays…now as mentioned their whole life – school and social is on line you can’t take away the devices and now from the moment they wake up they are on them. It’s amazing how fast high school is going as I have one going into Grade 11 and Grade 9 next year and I swear the youngest one just went to high school.

  7. Big congratulations to you all, you’ve done really well, especially Daisy. Year 7 can be great fun, with lots of changes and opportunities. For parents, high school goes by in the blink of an eye and Daisy will thrive. Do keep an eye out for “mean girl” stuff in the next few years, which can be hard for students and parents alike. Things generally calm down in Year 11, when they get to the sharper end of the process.

  8. Pauline Walden says

    Well done Daisy, so much of your life experiences will be filtered through you Mum and Dad for the next few years and it looks like you have won the lottery with them. Hope you have lots of good times and fun for the holidays. X

  9. Re: point 5 ‘time together’, I agree this is so important. I remember spending about half an hour a day with my mum when I got home from school (my parents ran pubs when I was growing up. so always very busy). She would make me saladas with cheese and vegemite and we would have a chat about things. I always treasured those moments, understanding as I got older that my parents were busy with their businesses. I’m like that too now as parent of 3 young ones, FT study, plus small business on the side. Amazing what 20 mins undivided attention for your kids will do though 🙂

  10. Love that no.1 is no.1. That was my biggest lesson too. It really is the best thing for all. And parent allies too. We will need each other more and more as they get older. Well done on surviving and thriving!! 🍾❤️

  11. Lovely to read (as always), it brought a tear to my eye. The only thing that comes to mind is that each step that they take away from you is letting you know that you have done your job as a parent, to raise confident, independent people who will contribute to society. My eldest has just finished university and has secured a job in her chosen field. Exciting times ahead, the next stage.

  12. Backup everything. My youngest learned the hard way with everything being on her laptop. One month before her Year 12 exams, her laptop crashed!!!! And nope, she didn’t backup offsite even though we kept at her to do it, cos you know, us parents knew nuthin….. Google Drive or iCloud or wherever is better than nowhere. (We managed to get her important files back and the ones that were lost forever, she borrowed from others)

  13. Yay Daise, what a sweetie! She’s doing exactly what I would recommend to my students; have a go at everything because you’re only in high school once (thank God!). Tech kills me. The advice above sounds so good. I don’t think many of my students are doing much homework anymore – they’re connected and online but not necessarily productive. I hope you all enjoy the holidays! Oh, and I’ve worked at a few schools now, if in doubt, tell the kids to go to ‘student reception’ to find out. That usually works for most things – uniforms, tissues, where to go to get collected for an excursion.

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