10 Things You Don't Have To Do When You Send Your Kid To School (Despite What Others Say)

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Transitioning from the coziness of Pre-K to the vastness of kindergarten was a hard adjustment, for me. My first kid handled it fine. My second kid was so eager to grow up, he wanted to skip Pre-K altogether to try to catch up to his sister. Not so fast, buddy. I am less adaptable to change than my kids, apparently. Which is why it took me a while to figure out that there are things you don’t actually have to do when you send your kid to school, even though everyone says you do.

If anything, I over-prepared because I was anxious about sending my tiny child to a huge brick building that went through eighth grade. Turns out, I put way too much energy into some things that didn’t end up serving my or my kids’ school experience. Once I tossed any ambition I had about creating bento box masterpieces for their lunches, I learned to relax about the role school was playing in their lives, instead of letting anxiety put me into overdrive; scrolling through Pinterest boards to see how to craft sandwiches in the shapes of forest animals.

In addition to intricate meal planning, here are some things I discovered I don’t have to do when sending my kids to school, though other people might, and that’s fine for them. Whatever works.

Ad failed to load

(Disclaimer: There is one thing you must do. When you get the letter home about lice being found in the class — and you will get that letter — definitely do everything it tells you to do to prevent, or get rid of, an infestation. Just FYI.)

Ad failed to load

Get Them A New Backpack

Giphy

Sure they may want one, but if last year’s schoolbag is still in great condition, why not keep using it? The only reason we replace our kids’ bags is if they are falling apart (so yeah, I’m replacing backpacks on the regular because my children are maniacs). If they want something new, just to have it new, they can put it on their birthday wish list. Besides, some companies offer amazing guarantees, so you can exchange the old backpack for a new one at any time.

Bring All The Supplies In On The First Day

Giphy

I wish our school was one where you could order the class supplies online to have them shipped directly to the class. Sadly, it’s not. So, we do our annual end-of-summer pilgrimages to Target (and four other stores because there is very specific kind of marble notebook and they need seven, not five, yet they only come in packs of five not that I'm still upset about it or anything) to stock up.

Invariably, there are some big items on these lists: packs of baby wipes, rolls of paper towels and boxes of tissues. Help your kid pack his or her bag on the first day with the things you know they’ll use right away: glue, pencils, erasers, scissors, ruler, notebooks and folders. On the second day, and third day, they can bring in those other items. Don’t let the supplies list scare you; teachers will be grateful to get those sharable items, like paper goods, whenever they can as close to the start of school, but it definitely doesn’t have to be on the first day.

Invite The Whole Class To Your Kid’s Birthday Party

Giphy

I used to feel I had to invite the whole kindergarten class to my kid’s birthday shindig, but with a class of 25 students, it was overwhelming for her and me. I have toned the festivities way down since then. My kids have been much happier doing a special event with one or two friends, than being the focus of a chaotic, generic birthday party (it’s cheaper too).

Obviously not all kids want to downscale the fun, but don’t feel obligated to hand out invitations to every kid. Get the contact info of the parents of the kids your child wants at their celebration, and reach out to them outside of the classroom. If you’re not going to hand out invitations to all the kids, it will feel terrible to those kids who don’t receive a special envelope.

Ad failed to load

Label Their Underwear

Giphy

If they lose it, I don’t want it back.

Wear The New Shoes On The First Day

Giphy

I would not recommend having kids break in new shoes right at the start of school. This is a tough sell to a wannabe fashionista like my 8-year-old daughter, but it is a bad scene to have your kid hobble off the bus with heel blisters, needing to sit out gym the first week. Get the shoes a week or two before the start of school and work out all the footwear kinks earlier rather than later. Trust.

Attend Every PTA Meeting

Giphy

I swore that once both my kids were in one school, I would be much more involved in the PTA. Well, that hasn’t happened (yet). I have attended meetings, but not regularly. My kids don’t attend school in our neighborhood, so getting to nightly meetings is a challenge. However, I swear once my 6-year-old is more independent and the bedtime routine is less arduous, I will be more involved in the PTA. No, seriously. I swear it.

Ad failed to load

Volunteer In The Classroom

Giphy

I think my kids’ school has a smart policy: parents are welcome to volunteer in the classroom, but it can’t be their own kid’s class. This is to avoid nepotism and that uncanny phenomenon of children adopting a snarky, uncooperative attitude whenever their mom or dad is around (or maybe that’s just in my case). However, I work full-time and, while I do make sure I chaperone at least one trip a year for each of my kids, taking time off to volunteer during the day is difficult.

So I do what I can. My husband and I are both employed, and we donate annually to our kids’ (public) school. Until I can find more time, this is how we help support the school’s art, music, and STEM programs.

Dress Your Kid Up On Picture Day

Giphy

More than once I have failed to remember it was "picture day," despite all my calendar alerts (Pro tip: You will never check your phone in the mad rush to get the kids out of the house in the morning, so change the reminders to the night before!). Surprisingly, the photos on those days are the best. My son wears a shirt with his favorite cartoon character, and his hair is adorably messed up. It captures him honestly, the way I’d always want to remember him at those ages. While my daughter fixates on a nice dress and a special hairstyle, I honestly wish she wouldn’t. Capturing my kids in their everydayness is so much more satisfying than seeing them unnaturally dolled up.

Make Friends With The Other Parents

Giphy

If I felt like I had to be buddies with the parents, and that stressed me out. It’s enough to be friendly and inclusive. We have an online group of my daughter’s class parents, and I lean on it when I have questions about after school hours or schedules or trips. It’s nice to chat with them at school events. It’s also wonderful not to feel the pressure of having to cultivate a social life with parents of my kids’ friends. Just because our children hang out, doesn’t mean we have to also. Though it’s always cool when I do click with another parent. Making friends as grown-ups is hard.

Ad failed to load

Vary Their Lunches

Giphy

Oh sure, by all means, do this. Just don’t expect them to get consistently eaten. My daughter has been bringing hummus and pretzels every day for the last three years of school. It’s all she wants and it’s all she eats. She is happy eating a variety of foods for dinner, or at restaurants, but when it comes to her school lunch, she wants it the way she wants and it makes my life so much easier knowing what I’m packing her every day (for the rest of her school-life, I guess).

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}