How To Prepare for Your Child’s First Day of Kindergarten

How To Prepare for Your Child’s First Day of Kindergarten

Up until around their 5th birthday, kids spend every waking moment with a caregiver nearby, often at home.  Their world is small and secure, just as they like it. Then comes school— which is exciting for many kids but may also seem scary. Spending that much time away from their parents and house seems inconceivable.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your child’s first day of kindergarten:

Walk Through the School, Meet Their Teacher

One of the scariest parts about school is that it happens in a place other than home. While kids with older siblings may have some exposure to school, only children and first-born kids may each benefit from visiting their school before they begin the year, perhaps during an orientation. Walking the hallways and having their parent nearby to reassure them will help them feel more comfortable with the whole process.

An even better tip is to meet their teacher. These introductions stave off any of your child’s worries that their teacher is some larger-than-life, scary person. Though tours and teacher meetings may not be possible due to the current pandemic, make sure to take full advantage if they are available. If they aren’t available, try to arrange a video meeting instead.

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Talk About What It’ll Be Like

You should also engage in conversations before and after this in-person walkthrough. Kids need to process their emotions, and they need a trusted guardian to help them do so. Be sensitive about questions and prepare to listen to their concerns, even if they seem insignificant. If your child feels in control of the conversation, they’ll likely start to grow more comfortable with the thought of heading off to school.

Given the unique circumstances this year, make sure to leave extra space for conversation about Coronavirus. These conversations allow you to calm your child’s fears a bit while reinforcing the need for them to take preventative measures such as wearing their mask and staying six feet away from other students.

Buy and Organize Their School Supplies Together

Our last piece of advice on preparing for your child’s first day of kindergarten is to buy and assemble their school supplies together. This step also affords your child control over the process. If they get a few school items they enjoy, such as a Star Wars-themed lunch box, they’ll be more likely to look forward to starting school.

As you shop, create a plan for color-coding the folders, art supplies, and other items they’ll use every day. This is wise because color has huge benefits on learning, memory, and organization. The school will seem more fun when they have a colorful system to keep their things in order so they can focus more on learning.

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3 Healthy School-Day Breakfast Ideas for Kids

3 Healthy School-Day Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Do you have a hard time coming up with healthy breakfast ideas for the kids before they head off to school?

School mornings can be fairly hectic if you’re a parent. However, even though getting your kids on their way to school is time-consuming and challenging, the odds are good you’d still like to provide them with nutritious meals.

The odds are also good you don’t know how you’ll find the time every morning to achieve that goal. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to check out the best meal delivery service for kids. In addition to that option, check out these recipes. They offer nutrients your kids need, they taste great, and you don’t need to spend your entire morning prepping them.

Here are easy and healthy school-day breakfast ideas for kids to start the school day off on the right foot.

Breakfast Parfait

Breakfast parfait made from Greek yogurt and granola topped with fresh berries.

Sure, parfait may not be the first meal that comes to every parent’s mind when they think of kid-friendly breakfasts, but making this option appeal to your children is easier than you might think.

All you have to do is grab a clear plastic cup and fill the bottom of it with honey. Use your judgment to determine how much honey you should use. While you don’t want your kids to consume too much sugar, the sweetness can help you sneak in more healthful ingredients.

One of them is yogurt. Greek yogurt offers a range of health benefits. These include supporting bone health, providing your children with much-needed protein, boosting their gut health, and much more. Add a few spoonfuls to the cup, making sure the honey is thoroughly covered.

You’ll add fruit next. Options to consider include raspberries, blueberries, or banana slices. Finally, top the whole concoction with your child’s favorite cereal.  This is a healthy breakfast idea that your kids will love. 

Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches

An egg, ham, and cheese breakfast sandwich will keep you full until lunch.

True, making your own breakfast sandwiches during busy school mornings might not seem like the smartest idea, but this recipe is still worth considering because you can make these sandwiches ahead of time and freeze them. If you have a little bit of spare time on the weekend, set it aside to prep these for the week ahead.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray and crack an egg into each muffin mold. Gently pierce the yolk of each. Bake the eggs for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they have set, then gently slide them out of the molds. Next, slice English muffins (one for each egg) and add a slice of cheese (your preference), three slices of ham, and an egg. 

Wrap these in plastic and freeze them. When you’re ready to heat one, remove it from the plastic, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave on 50% power for about one minute. Then, flip the sandwich over to the other side, and microwave again on full power for another minute.

Breakfast Casserole

Make a breakfast casserole in a slow cooker and wake up to a delicious breakfast.

Sometimes, the best breakfast ideas for kids begin in the slow cooker the night before. 

This recipe is worth keeping in mind for two reasons. One, you can make it ahead of time in a slow cooker, so you don’t have to rush to whip up a meal in the morning. Two, it can yield very big servings, making it a perfect option if you have a lot of mouths to feed.

Spray your slow cooker (this recipe is for a 6-quart slow cooker) with non-stick spray. Add half a 30 oz. bag of hash browns. Then, add a half-pound layer of browned and drained breakfast sausage. Next, add a four oz. layer of cheddar cheese and a four-oz. layer of mozzarella cheese. Then, repeat the entire process, starting with the hash browns and using the same measurements. Finally, whisk together 12 eggs, half a cup of milk, and salt and pepper to your liking, drizzling the mixture over the contents of the slow cooker. Cook on low for eight hours and wake up to a breakfast your family will love.

Again, if you’re a parent, busy mornings don’t need to prevent you from feeding your family well. These simple recipes prove it!

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4 Smart Tips To Teach Kids Healthy Eating Habits (From A Busy Mom, RN)

4 Smart Tips To Teach Kids Healthy Eating Habits (From A Busy Mom, RN)

We must teach our kids a foundation for healthy eating habits. Unfourtuanelty, this can be challenging for busy nurse moms, who often struggle to eat properly, exercise regularly, or get enough sleep as it is due to our crazy working-mom lifestyles.

So, how do we help our families adopt healthier eating choices when it seems like life is always getting in the way? Here are a few fun suggestions that have worked for my own family.  I hope they help you too!

Involve children in the meal planning process

4 Smart Tips To Teach Kids Healthy Eating Habits

Teach your kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the meal-planing process.

Kids love to feel like they are a part of things, and they are more likely to want to eat healthy foods if they are included in the food preparation experience. Grant your children some say in which foods you bring into the house.

For example, if I plan to purchase grapes at the store, I will ask my son which color he wants.  When we go to the grocery store together, I let him help me select the produce items that he thinks are the most appealing. Search recipes together for inspiration, so you all can be excited about the meals you will have that week.

I personally love Pinterest and use it as my primary means of saving and organizing recipes. Each child can be allowed to make one or two “special requests” for either a specific food they would like to have or a particular meal they want to eat.

Sometimes it is not realistic to prepare a family meal every single night.  Here is a solution for that:  make double batches when you cook to ensure that you have extra nutritious food that can easily be reheated as leftovers later in the week. When I worked 12-hour day shifts, I would often make a tray of lasagna, enchiladas, or casserole on my days off.  That way, my husband could easily prepare healthy dinners for the family in my absence.

By preparing meals ahead of time, we eliminated the temptation to pick up fast food on the way home when we were exhausted and starving.  

Encourage children to help out in the kitchen

Teaching kids healthy eating habits

Teaching kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the kitchen.

Even young children can make handy kitchen porters. They can help mix, measure, and stir years before they are old enough to be trusted near a hot stove or sharp instruments.

My son picked out a set of miniature set of kitchen tools (a small spatula, whisk, and tongs) for himself, and it makes him feel extra special when he assists me in the kitchen. You may have to do a little extra clean up at the end, but be patient and praise your culinary apprentices for helping! Fond memories and a love of cooking will be ingrained for life.

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Forget the “clean plate club”

empty plate

Teach kids healthy eating habits – don’t encourage them to clean their plates if they are full.

Children are very good at self-regulating their food intake. Telling kids they must finish their food, even if they insist that they are not hungry, can cause them to tune out their innate cues of fullness and may set them up to become chronic overeaters later in life.

Lead by example

Kids are always observing, and you need to practice what you preach.  The nutrition standards you set for them as a parent will go further than anything you say. However, don’t always expect perfection of yourself. Parenting is hard, and some days just getting the kids fed is an accomplishment.

Holiday get-togethers, family dinners, and parties with cake and candy are perfectly fine in moderation.   The point is that if you eat a variety of wholesome foods each day, your children will develop an appreciation for fresh, healthy eating as well.

Additional Information to help teach children healthy eating habits

The American Academy at Pediatrics has an archive of articles with evidence-based advice on healthy eating for children that you can find hereConsult with your children’s pediatrician or primary care provider if you have questions regarding your children’s specific dietary needs.

Cyra-Lea Drummond is a registered nurse with 15 years experience in telemetry, cardiac ICU, cardiac rehab, and home health. She currently lives near Louisville, KY, and enjoys spending her free time playing outside with her husband, son, and their dog Daisy.Content goes here

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7 Essential Items Your Nanny Needs From You

7 Essential Items Your Nanny Needs From You

(This post contains affiliate links.   For more information, please see our disclosure policy.)

Going back to work after maternity leave comes to an end can be a daunting, emotional experience.  Just when you have gotten used to spending day after day bonding with your baby and developing a routine – just like that – you have to go back to work.  Much of the time, many moms aren’t even getting close to a decent night’s sleep, and what they do get is usually fragmented and interrupted at best.

It is hard to trust another person to come into your home and take care of your precious baby.  After all, you know how to care for your child best, where the diapers are,  when they need to eat, what to feed them, where and what time they sleep, and what their favorite snuggle blanket is.  Going back to work is hard, but leaving your baby in the hands of others is so much harder.

The only thing you can do it prepare the best that you can (and remember, it’s probably way harder for you then it is for them!).

Here is the list of essential items your nanny needs from you:

1.  Nasal Aspirator

Moms know that nasal aspirators are a great tool to unplug the baby’s tiny nasal passages.  And nanny’s need to have one available so they too can unplug stuffy noses when mom isn’t there.    Because the infant’s nasal passages are so small, having a stuffy nose affects their ability to breathe, eat, and sleep, which makes the nasal aspirator an especially critical need for the nanny.

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2.  First Aid Kit

Having a First Aid Kit available for the nanny is a no-brainer.  Because you just never know if or when an accident might occur.  Also, let your child’s caregiver know that it is 100% OK for them to call 911 if there is any concern for your child’s safety.    It is always better to be safe than sorry.

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3.  Baby Thermometer

Despite what many caregivers think, you cannot measure a baby’s temperature by feeling their forehead or skin.  You need a digital thermometer to accurately measure a bay’s temperature to know whether or not they have a fever.   An easy thermometer like this one makes it simple for the nanny or caregiver to assess the baby’s temperature correctly.

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4.  Diaper Bag

Initially, I didn’t realize that our nanny depended on having a diaper bag as much as I did!  But it makes perfect sense as they need all of the items inside to take care of our child when we were not there:  diapers, diaper cream, wipes, extra clothes, sunscreen, set of spare keys, baby toys, etc.

Our nanny used our diaper bag when we were not there and took it where ever she went with the baby – for a walk or to the park.  This is the exact diaper bag that we have been using for years, and it is still in perfect condition, even considering how much wear-and-tear we put on it.

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5.  List Of Important Numbers

This is peace of mind at your caregiver’s fingertips.  Make sure your child’s caregiver has important numbers they might need in an emergency so they can notify your doctor, pediatrician, or veterinarian in seconds. 

This card includes areas to write your police, fire, doctor, pediatrician, pharmacy, utility companies, your address & phone numbers, emergency contact names, and phone numbers, and an area to write other relevant information.

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6.  Bottle Schedule/Sleep Schedule/Poop Schedule

Who knew that establishing a good eat, sleep, and poop schedule could be so important?  Since your child’s caregiver probably doesn’t spend as much time with your baby as you do, they need a guideline for what your baby does on a routine basis.

Also, it is written documentation for you as well, so you know what happened with your baby when you get back home.  We used this exact baby journal for the first ten months of both of our children’s lives, and it was so helpful!

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7.  Hidden Key Access

If you have a secret key outside of your house, then it would be wise to show your nanny where it is!  We didn’t show out nanny exactly where we hid our spare outside – and on the one single occasion that she locked the keys inside-  she was unable to find (resulting in my husband having to leave work and let her in).  One thing I have learned is that it is important to have at least one backup plan in place.  And that includes having a spare key that our nanny has access to.

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Are there anything other essential items that you would add to this list?  Please leave a comment below!

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diaper bag with essential items for the nanny

Important Emergency Information To Leave With Your Nanny Or Sitter

Important Emergency Information To Leave With Your Nanny Or Sitter

I remember leaving our  10-week-old daughter with a nanny for the first time.  My husband and I were finally going for our first adult evening since becoming parents.   To say I was anxious would be a massive understatement.  I think I texted our nanny at least three times before we even got to dinner!
When we arrived home, our little Zoe was snuggled up and sleeping soundly.  I don’t think she even knew we were gone.
A few months later, I went back to work as an Emergency Room Nurse, two days a week.  I know that may not seem like much, but my shifts at the hospital are about 13 hours a day.  And that is a long time for a mom to be away from her baby!
So, in the spirit of being overly prepared, I made this comprehensive list of important information to leave with the nanny or sitter, including emergency contact information in case something unexpected happens.  It’s displayed right on our refrigerator so you can’t miss it. I wanted to make sure our nanny has easy access to any vital information that she could need in case of an emergency.
Thankfully she has never needed it.  But you never really know when a disaster or other emergency can strike so it is always best to prepare in advance.
nanny with children

Important emergency contact information to leave with your nanny or sitter

General information:

  • Names of all family members (include pets in the house)
  • Names of neighbors, and their children
  • Your address
  • A list of your child’s allergies

Specific contact information:

  • Your cell phone number
  • Information about where you will be while you are out
  • The name and phone number of someone else to contact in case of emergency (if you can’t be reached)
  • Local phone numbers for police, fire, poison control, and emergency services
    • Note – make sure your caregiver knows that it is OK for them to call 911 if they are concerned in any way for your child’s safety.  Always better safe than sorry!

Medical information:

  • A photocopy of your child’s health insurance card
  • The name, address, and phone numbers for your child’s pediatrician
  • The name, address, and phone number of a nearby hospital
  • Information about any medication your child takes (including dosage)

Other Information:

  • A list of the house rules (what kids can or can’t eat, bedtimes, anything that is not allowed, etc.)
  • Homework information, if necessary, to help school-age children
  • Show them where to find the first aid kit, flashlights, fire extinguisher, and any other emergency preparedness items

Do you have your child’s important information ready for your nanny or sitter? Now would be a great time to gather this information and put in in a handy spot in case of an emergency.

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Maternity Leave For Nurses:  How To Financially Prepare

Maternity Leave For Nurses: How To Financially Prepare

(This post about saving money for maternity leave as a nurse may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

As a new mother, it is your legal right to take maternity leave.

Maternity leave is so essential for a new mother for many reasons:

Unfortunately, many women in the US only get six weeks of maternity leave (8 weeks if you have a c-section).  And if you are a per diem employee like me, none of that time off is paid.  For that reason, I worked right up until my 9th month of pregnancy while working as an emergency room nurse at a level 1 trauma center (thank God for pregnancy compression stockings!).

Nurses work extremely hard to care for patients like they would care for a family member, yet when they have a baby of their own, they often have very little time to bond with their flesh and blood.  Add the financial strain into the mix and it can become very stressful and overwhelming.  So what is a nurse who is also a brand new mom to do?

Well, I have half-glass full mentality.  So for the sake of finding solutions to this conundrum that so many women find themselves in, I compiled a list of ways for mothers to plan financially far in advance of baby’s arrival.  You must take care of yourself first!

Pregnant nurse at work

The average paid maternity leave in the USA is only six weeks for a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a c-section.  And if you are a per diem RN then chances are that you will not be paid at all while you are on maternity leave.

Saving for maternity leave is crucial for moms so they can spend more time baby bonding and less time worrying about money!

Unpaid maternity leave for nurses: you need to save up in advance!

After my daughter was born in 2015, I went back to work as a per diem nurse (higher hourly rate and more flexibility, but no benefits – including disability or paid maternity leave).   Therefore, eighteen months later when I went on maternity leave with my second baby, I had a completely unpaid maternity leave.  It made the whole situation much more stressful for me.  Thankfully I planned well in advance to minimize the financial burden.

Here is how I managed to save up an additional 20K for my second maternity leave:

#1.  Open a new savings account dedicated to maternity leave.

One of the easiest ways to save money is to pay yourself first. When you set up direct deposit for each paycheck, you make saving much easier. That way, you don’t even see the money hitting your checking account. Liquid cash is good, so you can use it when you need it.

Suzie Orman (one of my all-time favorite financial gurus) says that you want to have as much money saved up for as many months as you plan to take off, as well as an eight-month emergency plan. You never know when an emergency can strike, for example, a medical emergency, a job loss, or worse. The faster you can start saving into an account dedicated to maternity leave, the more prepared you will be when it comes.

#2.  Make a budget and stick to it.

I prefer more of a no-budget budget strategy. I decide how much I want to save each paycheck and immediately transfer it into an online savings account as soon as payday comes.

I am aware of everything I purchase and review it each month by using a program called Mint to track my expenses. If you aren’t using this, you should be. Since I have started using Mint I have watched my savings rate take off farther than ever. It is incredible how much you can save when you know exactly where your money is going!

I’m always surprised by how many people I talk to who have no idea what they spend in a month. Needless to say, this is a poor strategy for preparing for an unpaid maternity leave. You’ve got to have a plan.

#3.  Make more money now or take on extra work.

If you are currently pregnant or even just thinking about it, now is a good time to take on extra hours at work. Especially if you can get overtime pay.

As a nurse, anything over 40 hours of work a week is considered overtime at my hospital.  I don’t work overtime anymore now that I have small children, but I did it during my pregnancies just to add a little more to my savings.

Also, some holidays pay time-and-a-half rates. Therefore, I have been known to pick up shifts on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but my family handles it by celebrating these holidays on the day before or the day after the actual holiday. When children are young, they don’t know what day it is anyway, so this strategy has worked particularly well. It adds up quite a bit when you are saving to be out for a few months.

Maternity leave savings plan for nurses

Nurse maternity leave: how to save up in advance

#4.  Cut all recurring expenses that you aren’t using or don’t need.

Look at your monthly expenses and see if there is anywhere that you can reasonably cut. Are you using the 100$ a month gym membership? Or does it make more sense to take daily walks and do online yoga classes at home?

My husband and I talk about money often and try to be responsible about our spending. Saving money is all about establishing priorities and having set goals. This has kept us in good financial health and kept us on the same page with our spending habits.

#5.  Look at the easy ways to cut back.

Families dropping from a dual income to a single income usually need to trim expenses somewhere. Make a list of everything you are spending money on, and be honest with yourself about what is an actual need. Here are a few ideas to throw on the table:

  • Nix the coffee cart habit = save $4 a day
  • Pack your lunches = save $12 a day
  • Cancel the cable you are barely using anyway = save $80 a month
  • Cook your meals at home instead of ordering take out = potentially $100’s in savings per month (if you eat out a lot)
  • Go on a 3-6 month spending freeze on things that are not an actual “need” =  $$$

Do you see my point here? There is A LOT of money to be saved if you just pay more attention to what you are spending money on.

I do consider myself somewhat of an expert on “trimming the fat” on my own spending habits since paying off a large amount of student loan debt in a short amount of time.  Saving money for maternity leave as a nurse was a very similar experience.

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#6.  Don’t fall for the baby registry trap.

There are so many items that I was told I had to have for baby #1. Many of them are “nice to have items” that I barely even used (I’m looking at you grocery cart baby cover I only used three times!). Many of these supposed “must-have items” from my baby registry are currently being stored away in my garage and will, at best, find a new home in our local Goodwill.

I remember looking through Pinterest at lists of “must-haves” for the new mom. They are long and mostly unnecessary. Stay away from those lists!

For example, I was told that I “needed” the newborn insert for our stroller. But for the first few months I was using her car seat in her stroller. By the time I went to use the insert, she has already grown out of it.   Same went for the ergo baby newborn insert- I didn’t even need it until she was too big to fit in it anyway.

If you need something, then go ahead and get it. These are just my thoughts as a second-time mom with a lot of baby registry regret. Except for a double stroller and a crib, I can’t think of any other BIG items I will need for our new baby.

#7.  Consider the extra expenses that come with a new baby.

There will be some extra expenses after the baby is born. Some of the big ones for us are diapers, wipes, food, and additional childcare.  None of these things are cheap, so it’s good to be prepared for the expenses in advance.

You could always decide to go the cloth diaper route. I know people who have done this and it does save quite a bit of money. That, however, was not in our savings plan. Some things of convenience are worth the money, and that was one for us.

Other significant expenses include childcare enrichment classes (MyGym, recreation classes, music classes, etc.) if that is something you are interested in.

Childcare is our single biggest expense besides housing.  In fact, if I didn’t have a higher hourly rate that I get from being a per diem nurse, it might not even make financial sense for me to work as an RN.   We have a nanny that comes every Monday and Wednesday, so those are the days that I work at the hospital (plus one day on the weekend when my husband is home to watch the kids).  If you have family that can help on days you work, that would be a huge financial saving.

I have read that the average baby costs their parents $300,000 from the time they are born until the time they turn 18. And that doesn’t even include a college education! I don’t know about you, but that makes me think about how we budget our money. (We have college funds set up for both of our kids, which started the day they were born, but we are still going to encourage them to achieve scholarships!)

#8.  Think about the big picture.

Having a baby is one of the most amazing human experiences I have ever had. I love being a Mom. However, it can also be stressful at times, even with the most thoughtful preparation.

At the end of the day you can only do the best you can. Saving for unpaid maternity leave is just one of the things I did to try and ease the financial loss that comes with having a baby.  It is wise to try and eliminate as much stress as you can so you can joyfully relish in the awesomeness that comes with having a new baby.

Now, if only I could invent a healthy way to live on increments of 2 hours of sleep or less, I would be golden!  Best wishes to you and your growing family.

Are there any other tips on saving money for maternity leave as a nurse you would add to this list?  Leave a comment!

P.S.  HEY, NURSES!  Remember to sign up to receive your FREE E-BOOK “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care”  in the sign-up box below! (scroll down)

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