When my son started Kindergarten, I was concerned about doing it all perfectly. I wanted to make sure he had trendy clothes, a cool backpack, and creative lunches every single day. I was very nervous about drop-offs and meeting his teacher and I was concerned that I’d never get to know the parents of his classmates since drop-off and pick-up were so structured. I wanted him to enjoy the experience and I felt so much pressure to make it magical for him.

What I learned over the course of the year is that, while our first introduction to the public school system can be intimidating, it really isn’t as scary as it seems.

My son didn’t feel pressured to dress a certain way. He continued to wear the same gym shorts and tall socks he has preferred his whole life. He happily wore his favorite character shirt every week. Most of the time his outfits didn’t match and were more eclectic than I would have preferred but he was happy and confident all year. What he wore mattered so little in the grand scheme of things.

He did not care if he ate the same thing for lunch every day. In fact, he preferred it. I always included protein, a fruit or veggie, some carbs, and a treat to ensure his lunch was well-balanced. Beyond that, it didn’t matter if his sandwich was cut into the cutest shape or if his snacks were themed in a relevant way. By the end of the year, his fancy bento box was discarded in favor of a container that fit his sandwich better and he looked forward to the little picture notes I’d slip in there more than the food.

I was so nervous about my son making friends that I did not know. I tried to pass my phone number to the parents of his classmates (just in case they wanted to get to know me), but ultimately my son made friends all on his own. I got to know a few parents while waiting in pick-up lines and at events like art shows or volunteer days but really, it didn’t have much impact on how much fun my son had with his classmates or who he enjoyed eating lunch with.

I kept up with school events through the emails they sent, the school’s Facebook page, and school-mom Facebook groups. I enjoyed volunteering and attending events when I could, but I explained to my son if I wasn’t able to and he always understood. Despite all my nerves and feeling out of control, once we found our rhythm, it felt natural. I felt in the loop just enough to not worry, and also trusted that my son was having fun and being well taken care of through his first year of school.

So if this is your first time sending your biggest little one off to school, take a deep breath, Mama. You’re going to find your way and your child will continue to be themselves as long as you continue to remind them how awesome they are.

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