This year I become a new school mum. Twice actually because I have a boy going off to a new school and my baby girl starting school for the first time. I have no nerves or worries about my big boy but oh have I been kept up late at night worrying about my little miss. What will she do before the bell goes? How will she tell me about her day? What if someone hurts her? And I hardly know anyone at the school and no other new families going into kindy. That can make me nervous too. Thing is it’s exactly how I felt sending my first daughter off to school when I was convinced she might run away during morning tea.
And I should be an old pro but I do have some tips and advice if you are a new school mum this year and sometimes it means going out of your comfort zone or doing things that you usually wouldn’t do.
Firstly you are going to go to the events. The morning teas, the class nights, the birthday parties, the assemblies (when you can, I struggle with assemblies because of preschool times but rest assured when you do go to assembly your child won’t get an award and when you don’t go they will get an award. It has become the story of my life so far).
Secondly you are going to volunteer. Not for everything but pick one thing or two. Read the newsletter, sign up for something that takes your fancy (or not) but the best way to meet other mums and feel settled into school is to volunteer and get involved. Canteen, P&F, Mother’s Day Stall, covering books in the library, working bees, helping with reading, teaching a new skill, setting up and so on. You’ll make lovely friends, know exactly what is happening at school and be able to contribute. This year I’ll try not to overcommit as we are at 3 schools and 1 preschool but look forward to helping out and getting involved. So step up. And if you work there are always opportunities to do things from home like covering books, sending emails, running spreadsheets and so on. Life is busy but it’s important to show our children that we care about where they go to school and want to help out.
Thirdly you’re going to smile and say hi. If you think people aren’t being friendly it might be that they are nervous too so there is no harm in always smiling and starting up a conversation if you see another new mum. I do this and sure small talk isn’t for everyone but I bet you’ve got the same worries and things going on. As children get older I tend to use carline but walking your child in every day is a great way to strike up conversations and meet other parents.
You are also going to put everything in your diary. Library day, sports day, special events, P&F etc. You might think you won’t forget but sometimes life gets in the way. Notes get signed and returned the next morning. Library bags and books in the same spot. Hats and shoes near the front door for the next morning. And just so you know, every family has someone who will lose everything. Just keep it in mind. We have our one.
And you’re also going to organise a playdate /coffee morning if your child has made a friend. In the first year of school as hard as it might sound it’s really worthwhile inviting the whole class to your child’s birthday party. It’s a great way for your child to make friends and also for you to make friends with other families and especially when they get invited to birthday parties and you don’t know the family. We don’t do sleepovers as a rule in our family but getting to know the families when you start school makes decisions about playdates, staying over etc much easier when you know the family.
Lastly you are going to try not to stress or worry that it’s taking time. The best friendships don’t happen overnight. Put mums numbers in your phone, remember their names, be friendly and keep it light and happy.
What to do when you think you have no friends at school? Some schools do it better than others. Some schools are more friendly and welcoming than others. There are more introductory events, caring class parents and a real focus on building community. I’ve found small schools to be really amazing. When my big girl started kindy I made some beautiful friends that I’m still in touch with now. It was a small community and very caring. Our current schools go out of their way to have morning teas, class parents who plan events each term including the dads and lots of functions. Some big schools are so big and you might feel that people already have a clique or everyone has someone to talk to or they are not very friendly. It’s easy to make negative talk in our head and think that we have no friends. This is when taking a deep breath and getting involved in the school and going to the events is even more important. There is always someone who feels like you so stay positive, stay close to the school and be involved and just keep that smile on your face.
And now I’ll just tell myself that advice as I send 5 of my little ones off to school and preschool next week.
What’s your best advice?