Looking back on how we prepared the girls for school

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Hi! I'm Sandy (although lots of people call me 'Auntie') and my husband works offshore in oil/gas. We've been together for 30years, many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time we've raised two daughters (both now at uni) and moved more than 19 times! I wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.

Happy New Year to everyone out there! 

Ours was pretty low key. After the man of the house was called back to work for a few days, we headed off to the neighbours' for a spit of roast lamb and pork. All going well until there was a power cut. There were bodies running around trying to figure out how we turn the meat by hand. Then within the blink of an eye, three generators appeared from different households. What a prepared lot! Makes my survival kit of a lantern, candles and a few tins look pathetic.  All turned out well and the meat (even though delayed) was wonderful.

So with the start of the year comes the return for children back to the routines of school and preschool.

I remember back when the youngest was not so keen on kindergarten one day. Through the first gate and she latched on for life! I managed to work her fingers free. Onto the second gate, same again. Just inside the door and there was a set of lockers. Oh no, she clung to these like the Klingon on the Starboard bow. By then my heart had sunk and I was in tears. Was it supposed to be this hard? Wasn’t kindergarten supposed to be a fun place? One of the teachers grabbed her, kicking and punching. I walked out of there with my heart in my throat. Sat in the car and cried.

By the time I got home the phone was ringing and it was the kindergarten teacher ringing to say she was fine and had settled. When I questioned her later that day she couldn’t figure out what I was on about. This got me to thinking about how we coped with school days.

We went to the school and had a look around. Then did the parent/child pre-visits. I asked the school what was expected of her. No point in teaching them Newtons law when it is not required. We made sure that we had all equipment for the start of school, including stationery and uniforms. The back pack and lunchbox. One important thing we had to deal with was medication. Checked with the school on their policy and left some medication with clear and concise  instructions. We did a trial with the uniform about a week before, just to make sure there everything fitted and was suitably named.

Before the first day I contacted a parent of a child who was already at school. They met us at the gate and the young child took us off. My oldest child was a little shy and reserved, but soon settled and I returned home. I was a little shell shocked and quiet for the day, eagerly awaiting her return that night.

When it came to the second one going off to school it was different situation. She ran off without even looking back. There was excitement on my behalf. Ah, life with no children at home.

So here are my tips for easing the kids into school:

  • Help with their confidence, by ensuring they can dress themselves and are toilet trained
  • Make them aware of how they will get to school. Make sure there is a routine to this and that you are on time. My youngest used to get very stressed if we were late
  • Be prepared. Have all the equipment they need. Get them used to getting their clothes ready the night before, and into the habit of emptying  their bag at night and putting the lunchbox out for washing. Nothing worse than discovering a squashed banana after a long weekend!
  • Involve them in the lunch preparation. Make it interesting and fun.

Most of all, enjoy this time with them. Let them know how much school has to offer - the friendships formed can last a life time.

More from Auntie Sandy:

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