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The Ultimate Guide to Surviving the First Day of Preschool

1. Get their clothes from the closest dumpster.

Published on: August 14, 2017

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I'm not a zombie who has come back from the dead to relay this message (and go after your brains), so you can trust me when I tell you that I have the end-all, be-all practical guide for surviving the first day of preschool. I've done this before and lived to tell the tale.

Three times. With three separate kids.

One who I had to pry from my leg with the combined strength of six powerlifters, one who told me in a falsely positive voice how much fun he was going to have and one who basically flipped me the bird on his way into the classroom.

It can be done, moms, dads and other concerned parties. It can be. But not without these tips.

  1. Buy cheap clothes. Or, even better, get them for free from your best friend, your neighborhood discount retailer or the local trash dump. Why? All of the cute outfits you've carefully purchased, sorted and ironed will never be the same after the first day of preschool. You thought a diaper explosion was a disaster? You've never seen a preschooler with a half-melted granola bar and an agenda.
  2. Get a semi-generic backpack. So, your preschooler is into Paw Patrol is she? Not by mid-November. By then, she'll be into Elena of Avalor. Or Peppa Pig. Or Def Leppard. And the refusals to carry the backpack will be both ear-splitting and melodramatic. But – and this is key – the backpack can't be too generic. No stripes or plaid, for heaven's sake. They're not enrolling in Harvard Law. Something along the lines of cupcakes or dinosaurs. Or, with any luck, rocket ships like the rest of the class so when the bags can get all mixed up, you can find out what little Timmy's parents think a healthy lunch looks like.
  3. Try out all lunch foods at home. Speaking of lunch ... unless you'd like your preschooler to come home every day with a full lunch bag and a raging case of the hangrys, don't try anything cute and out of the ordinary. No, the fake peanut butter doesn't taste any better when you carve the sandwich into the shape of an orangutan. That reeks of desperation, and those little vultures can smell it from a mile away. If peanut butter is on the "do not pack" list, then just buy a thermos and stick last night's dinner in it. One more day won't hurt.
  4. Make a parental friend. When your other kid is projectile vomiting and you're due at the preschool in 10 minutes, nothing says MIRACULOUS like another parent offering to bring your preschooler home for you. In fact, don't just chat them up on the first day; get a buddy. You know, someone you can text to find out what miscellaneous forms you were supposed to turn in, when the next scheduled day off is and who is responsible for spreading the lice (because we're all pretty sure it was Hailey).
  5. Sign up to volunteer the first day. Sure, it's great to volunteer in your child's classroom. Who doesn't love an assortment of children tapping your shoulder while you glue cotton balls onto construction paper? But there may be something more suitable for your special talents available, too. Often, the preschool teacher will leave out a list of volunteer opportunities on the first day, but if you don't move fast all of the ones you actually want to have (cutting out stars while binge-watching Ozark on Netflix from the relative safety of your own living room) will be snatched up, and you'll be left chaperoning that rainy, mid-April trip to Pioneer Village.
  6. And last, but certainly not least, invest in a brown paper bag. No, not for the handmade puppets, of which you will receive at least a baker's dozen in the upcoming year. This one's for you. Because when you walk your impossibly tiny child up those impossibly large steps and hand them off to this teacher with the impossibly small chairs in their classroom, you're probably going to need a brown paper bag in which to breathe. It's gut-wrenching. It really is. You were just rocking these infants to sleep, singing the silly song about the monkeys, and suddenly, they are standing before you with big eyes and a wobbly smile, and your hands are crammed into your pockets so you don't snatch them out of there and run.

So my final tip to you is simple: just let your preschooler go. You got this. Squeeze the life out of them with your hugs and kisses, ugly cry to your car, breathe in the paper bag and get back to business.

Because although you'll survive the first day of preschool (Remember? I'm not a zombie), the upcoming year is going to hit you where it counts, and that first holiday show where you'll be asked to hand-make your child's Rudolph costume may just do you in.

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