When your child is about to start school, there is a lot to plan and think about beforehand. Alongside choosing a school, uniforms, paperwork, stationary, settling sessions and getting them mentally prepared, there is one very important element that is often forgotten about. That is getting yourself, the parent, prepared for this big change.
You’re going to experience a range of emotions which can vary from person to person.
This is the most your child will be apart from you, and is where they start to learn more of their own independence. It is no surprise for you to be swimming in anxiety.
Separation anxiety is also a common issue for parents. When it comes to understanding what this new chapter means for your child, you must also accept it as a new chapter for you as a parent too. Up until this point your child/ren have relied on you, even surrounding childcare, you are the be all and end all. From school starting, it is common for you to feel that sense of independence that they are starting to develop. Now is when you may feel as if you must start reflecting more on your identity aside from being a parent.
This is a strong feeling for parents and can be subjective in whether it is a positive or negative emotion. As your children prepare for school, it’s no surprise that we start to reflect on their childhood until now. Whether the memories be fun, or difficult and emotional, they are still a healthy part of moving onto the next phase of childhood.
If they make you feel sad, what can you take away from that emotion and use it for the better? And if you are nostalgic and happy, use that positive energy for something too.
Starting school opens up a world of opportunities for children, and you will feel hopeful about the positive experiences and learning that lie ahead. But what about hope for yourself? If you are gaining extra time in your week, do you feel hopeful for what you are able to do with that time? And if not, it’s important to consider what you do want to do with that time in order to feel productive.
Again, this comes back to your own identity outside of parenthood. Using the time for your own wellbeing and happiness creates a more positive dynamic socially and at home.
For some parents, the start of school may bring a sense of relief, especially if you have been juggling work and parenting responsibilities.
With that relief you can also swiftly be swept up with a sense of guilt too, for even thinking about relief. Parent guilt is one of the most common emotions, but it is vital to remember that whatever is making you feel guilty is likely because it is something for yourself. Looking after your own wellbeing is how you can build the strongest relationship with your family too. And you are able to teach your children the importance of self-care.
Once you have felt relief, then acknowledged your guilt, you will likely move into pure excitement. For your child and all new experiences they are going to have, but also for yourself. And that is ok – remember that.
For them, and in yourself.
What this shows is the enormous range of emotions that you will be feeling in such a short space of time. And that can be very confusing for you especially as you are told to show nothing but excitement for school in front of your children.
It’s important to remember that these feelings can coexist and may change over time as parents and children settle into the school routine.
Open communication with your child, maintaining a positive attitude, and seeking support from other parents or professionals can help navigate these emotions effectively. Allow your children to see your own emotions and it’ll help them to feel comfortable to show theirs.
So what can you do from today to help yourself and create a positive, yet realistic relationship with school for your entire family:
- Talk about your range of feelings openly in the build up to school starting
- As you prepare for school with your child, also prepare what you are going to be doing
- After school, take time out to hear what they did and also share how your day was
See you at the school gates.