How in the world did we get to this point so fast? Raley starts kindergarten in 4 short days and I am in disbelief. We’ve never had this short of a summer before (we’re used to starting back to preschool after Labor Day) and it has seemed to fly by. Last year I shared how my friend Morgan did a Countdown to Kindergarten for her daughter Paisley during the months leading up to school, and I thought this was a wonderful idea. Early in the summer I had Raley tell me several things that she wanted to do this summer before kindergarten started, and we made a list. We tried to mark off everything on her list, plus a few extras! Keep reading to see what was on her list + how I’m feeling about this huge milestone that’s about to go down.
Raley’s Countdown to Kindergarten
Swim with friends
We spent a ton of time swimming this summer, but the highlights of our days in the pool were the days when she got to swim with friends, whether it be at her mermaid pool party, at a friend’s pool, or when cousins were in town.
See all the summer movies
There were a ton of good family movies coming out this summer and we actually made it to all of them! Of the four newly released movies (Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Secret Life of Pets 2, and The Lion King), I think Aladdin was our favorite.
Go shopping for school clothes and shoes
Raley has developed a love for shopping and watching her try on every pair of shoes at Shoe Carnival, then walk around in them was pretty comical. I wanted to get her some good tennis shoes that won’t tear up easily and will hopefully last a while. She landed on these adorable Nike’s, and I love them (look at that pose, btw!)
Play in the splash pad
Playing in the splash pad is such simple fun for kids! We love the splash pad at Bridge Street.
Go to Let’s Play
One of their favorites, which I’ve been avoiding all summer because it gets so busy! We went one weekday morning as soon as it opened and it actually wasn’t too crowded!
Have a “Mommy and Raley Day”
I’ve mentioned it before, but I greatly enjoy spending time with my girls one-on-one because they are for some reason calmer and better behaved when they have 100% of my attention. I put Mommy and Raley Day at the top of my must do list for this summer, because I wasn’t going to let her go off to kindergarten without some special mommy time. This time is good for her and me and days that I will always cherish. She wanted to get our nails done, eat pizza at Stevie B’s and play games, go shopping, and go to Bridge Street for ice cream and to ride the carousel. (we actually got to have 2 Mommy-Raley days this week because David took some time with just Audrey this morning! :-))
Eat ice cream and ride the carousel
One of her favorite combos when we’re at Bridge Street. We’ve been incorporating these two things into our Bridge Street visits for years now! We had to make this one happen on Mommy and Raley day.
Go to the “trampoline place”
The girls ask me all the time to “go to the trampoline place,” but I’m not going to lie, it’s not my favorite thing to do. It’s kind of expensive and it just wears me out! We decided one Saturday to split up and let David have some “Daddy and Raley time” too, since he doesn’t get that one-on-one time with her much, and they decided to go to Altitude Trampoline Park and then to Steak and Shake. They always have a blast together when they go there! Plus, Daddy-Raley time meant I got some time with Audrey, which was great too!
Have a sleepover
Ever since we’ve moved into our new house and set up the bunk beds upstairs in the play room, Raley has been dying to have friends over for a sleepover. I wasn’t sure if they were old enough for that yet, but last week we had some close friends over to watch the Bachelorette finale, and we decided to let our “big girls” have a sleepover that night. They both slept on the top bunk together, then they got up in the morning and played for a while until her mom picked her up. Such big girls!
Get a haircut
That long Rapunzel hair needed a little trim before school started!
Go to “the beautiful garden”
My girls love visiting the botanical garden (“the beautiful garden” as they call it) and thankfully we got to go several times this summer!
Go to the water park
Last, but not least! We’ve been waiting patiently all summer for a chance to visit Point Mallard Water Park, and we finally got to go this week! We always have a blast when we go. We try hard to just go with the flow and do whatever the girls want to do. We even decided to let them have extra play time this time because it had been such a great day and we weren’t quite ready to go yet (plus it was already past nap time so we knew that was out). Raley wouldn’t jump off the diving board this time, but Audrey did. She looked so tiny up there, but she swims like a little fish!
How is Momma feeling about Kindergarten?
Up until about a week ago, every time I would think of school starting, I would get very physically anxious. Like on the verge of a panic attack kind of anxious (and I’m not an anxious person). I’d get a huge lump in my throat, I’d feel nauseated, I could feel my heart start to race and get a little short of breath, and I’d have to fight back tears every time. Up until that point (the last full week in July), we had been very very busy. I was either working or had something on the calendar pretty much every day. I had not caught up on sleep from VBS and other activities. I felt exhausted and like time was slipping away.
Then last Friday there was some sort of turn around. The girls and I stayed home all day. I got the house clean in the morning (which for some reason lifts a huge weight off), then we just hung out the rest of the day. They took turns putting on a “dance recital” for me to Disney music. We played together and had a family movie night after dinner, complete with popcorn trays and candy. It was just what the doctor ordered. I only had one more work day left on Monday, then I was off for two weeks until after school starts. Knowing that I had the next week and a half to spend with my girls took away a good chunk of my anxiety. I could actually think about and talk about school without feeling like I was going to throw up or burst into tears.
I felt good until yesterday when teacher assignments came out and now it’s starting to feel all too real!! The tears are starting to come back, but I can say that the anxiety is not as bad as it was before. I know that day is going to be hard. I just keep thinking that I’m going to feel a little bit empty after dropping her off and having all day without her.
Raley has always been MY girl. She and I have always had that special bond, that’s different than what I have with Audrey (don’t get me wrong, I love both my kids equally, our bonds are just very different). I don’t know if it’s a first child thing or if it’s just her personality, but she and I seem to mesh in a lot of ways, even though she is SO different than I am. She is so tender-hearted and so sweet. I feel like she is still so little to go to kindergarten even though she is so smart, and very ready academically.
We have tried so hard to teach her to be brave and to stand up for herself. We have also tried to instill kindness in her. I don’t want her to get walked all over by other kids because she is so meek and tender-hearted, but I also want her to be kind to everyone. That’s such a hard concept for a 5 year old to understand, but maybe it will sink in eventually (I have to remind myself to be patient and constant like an orange tree).
The short answer to the question “how is momma feeling about kindergarten” is that I’m not handling it super great, but prayers will get me through. I’ve prayed for strength and I’ve prayed for peace and comfort. I’ve prayed for Raley as she enters this big new world. That she’ll understand what’s going on around her. That she won’t give in to peer pressure. That she won’t get lost in that big school. That she’ll know what to do if she’s in a situation she’s uncomfortable with. That she’ll have the courage to and stand up for herself or her friends. That she’ll be brave to try new things. That she will always be kind to others and never let a hateful word come out of her mouth. That she will be welcoming when people feel alone. That she will gain confidence in herself and her abilities. That she will make sweet new friends. And as much as I don’t want her to grow up, I pray that she will mature this year and the things we’ve been teaching her all this time will start to sink in and make sense, and that she will start to become the sweet, confident, brave big girl that I know she can be.
Raley Bug, I love you more than your little heart can fathom. You are going to rock Kindergarten! I am excited to see your little mind grow and learn this year. Always remember to have courage and be kind, my sweet girl. <3
Do you have children in school/starting school? How do you feel about them starting kindergarten? Do you have any of these same feelings?