Creating a Confident First-Day-of-School Experience

From curious eyes open for a fresh new day to tired eyes closed dreaming away.

The sun peeks in the window, eyes open for a brand new day and every child has expectations, butterflies, excitement and emotions about the day. Think of it as your first day on the job. Your child is ready for what the world presents today. They are prepared and equipped to handle this new experience from the years, moments and hours learning and watching everyday life unfold.

I want to start the day off right and help my child balance their mix of emotions. I have to remember to forget my expectations of the day. It’s those times I’m challenged most, when I have expectations and they go differently. My mind-set will be “go with the flow.”

This is my agenda to prepare for the first day of school. As a laid-back free spirit, I need to prepare myself for a routine. If I can make our morning flow smoother by being prepared, I’m all in. These ideas don’t cost much, just a little extra creativity and prep time.

1.Celebrate with a back-to-school dinner the night before.

Prepare your child’s favorite meal. Make sure they have everything set and ready for the morning. Talk about the summer adventures, the upcoming school year and spend quality time as a family to remind your child how much they are loved. I’m making my kids cards to tell them how proud we are of them. End dinner with root beer floats and a “cheers!” to the new year. I believe it started with a milk shake, but my son loves to “cheers” his drink.

2. Breakfast from the heart & for the brain: homemade breakfast cookies and fresh smoothies.

This weekend, I’m going to make breakfast cookies for the week. It’s quick for the morning, contains the right stuff for a great start and it contains the word “cookie.” There are many breakfast cookie recipes, but I liked this one. It’s filled with bananas, peanut butter, rolled oats, honey, whole-wheat flour and raisins or craisins for a power-packed healthy start. You can get creative and add bran, flax seed or your own special ingredients.

Now add a fruit smoothie filled with berries for antioxidants and brain-boosting power. Check out these great kid-approved smoothie ideas. The smoothie will require giving up an extra half hour of sleep to stay on schedule, but prep the night before. It will be worth it, and the kids will love putting fresh fruit in the blender and destroying it! My kids love fruit and they love drinks. So why not fill them up on a substantial, healthy drink. Experiment with your own fruit, yogurt, milk and juice to find your child’s perfect concoction.

3. Pack a healthy lunch and think outside the brown bag.

I would love any suggestions, as my son is not a fan of sandwiches, wraps or bread. Get creative and realistic. In kindergarten my son was more about socializing than eating. I tried to balance lunches with a protein, carb, dairy, fruit, veggie and snack, although some days were “I need to go grocery shopping” lunches. Some ideas for filling the bag: Beef or venison sticks, ham or turkey slices, trail mix, nuts, peanut butter for dipping crackers, pretzels or apples, edamame, fruit, yogurt, cheese, carrot sticks, snap peas or any veggies your kids like. Check out Rachel Ray’s lunch recipes, I love the lunch box “FUN”-due!

4. It’s the little things. Put a note and special treat in their lunch.

Here are some cute ideas to get you started:

  1. Smarties: Have a great day smarty pants.
  2. Tootsie Roll: Happy 1st day TOOTSIE, hope it’s fun because that’s how you ROLL.
  3. Lollipop (preferably the small ones) sweet and sour pops, or a ring pop: We’re proud of you—mom and pop’
  4. Laffy Taffy: Miss my class clown. Have a great day!
  5. Swedish fish or goldfish: You are o-fish-ally a 1st grader! This is also a fun snack to bring to your child’s classroom on the first day.
  6. Hershey Kisses & Hugs (Perfect for easy reading): I love (heart) u! Xoxo
  7. Mounds bar: Have mounds of fun today!
  8. Big League Chew: You’re in the big leagues now!
  9. Pop Rocks: You rock! Have a great day.
  10. Any kind of Cookie: You are one smart cookie!

5. Don’t bombard them with questions (although it’s the first thing I want to do!)

When your child gets home, remember they’re probably tired. Instead of asking about their day, tell them about your day. Ask them if they would like a snack to unwind and relax. Once they’re relaxed and you’re chatting about your day, I bet they’ll start spilling a few highlights of the day. I love it when my kids ask out of the blue “How was your day Mom?” A sure sign they’re getting big (and care!)

Good luck to all you parents out there. Remember you’re doing great and most importantly your kids know you love them. And in the midst of your busy, day-to-day responsibilities and this thing we call life, sits a moment. Grab the moment and see what you get.

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