Kids starting prep this year? Here’s how to survive the stress.

Do you know that fleeting moment of ‘feeling on top of your routine when it comes to childcare? As working mum for a very short moment, I felt like I had it all figured around the third term of Kinder – that is until we attended the first information session for prep late last year.

Suddenly there is a morning drop off at a time when you are supposed to be in the office already. Now there is a 3 pm pick up, every day – you know that parallel universe that exists that you miss out on? Yes, that’s the one.

The most significant pain point for working mamas is the juggle of both work, school drop-offs and pickups. Below are some practical tips for working mamas (and dads) with prep kids to help ease the stress of juggling work and your child’s first weeks and months at school.

1. Ask for a flexible work arrangement

If your employer is okay with you having to work shorter hours on some days so you can drop off and pick up your child, then that would be a perfect way to manage your time. Or work from home so you save the travel time to work and can handle the pick-up hours that way. Your partner should try to do the same – if possible.

2. Make friends with fellow mamas at school

If you can wing it; you may want to take a few days off/ or hours each day from work so you can take your time getting to know fellow working mamas and make real connections. Trust me; it will be worth it if you still have no networks among other parents. You will usually find a fellow mama who either lives right across the street from your house or around the block.

Try and create a win-win scenario – and negotiate a pickup and drop off schedule. By now you will know which of your child’s friends from childcare and kinder friends are joining the same prep class or at least school.

3. Connect via social media

You will naturally gravitate to each other once prep starts, so find a group of mamas online who can relate to what you’re going through and can give tips on how to make it work. Making friends with the mamas in your child’s class will also help you get included in an exclusive group chat for working mamas – if you can’t find one, create one yourself.

As mentioned earlier, you can share pick-ups or drop-offs once you can make friends with parents at the class. If you can find a holiday program in your area, you can also send your child with a friend on days that you won’t be able to pick him or her early.

4. Get support

If you are not lucky enough to have relatives helping you out, hosting an Au Pair might be a great alternative. What is an Au Pair? Au Pairs are young people, who come to Australia to experience the Aussie culture and improve their language skills while living with a family as a family member in exchange for free board and food plus some pocket money.

Au Pairs can help you with all things childcare for 20-35 hours per week. That’s your school drop off and pick up sorted! All you need is a spare furnished bedroom and the willingness to share your home with a ‘new family member’ and genuinely include them in your family as you would let’s say your husband’s niece.

The little things they do to help a working mama like you are a huge time saver, potentially money saver and your mental load can go down tremendously. They can help you with packing lunches, drop-offs and pickups from school/childcare, prepare snacks for kids after school, help with homework, cook simple dinners, get the kids to bed, and even help with child-related housework (i.e. kids laundry).

On top of that, you’ll feel much better when you know you have another adult in the house helping to look after your little ones. And if you have a toddler at home as well – an Au Pair is even better as you could save a few days on the ever-increasing childcare costs.

These tips might seem a bit tricky, but, once you establish a routine, it gets easier. Find what works for you and your family so you can finally focus on the very first milestones your precious little one is about to take. Being a first-time preppy mama myself, I would love to hear from you and your tips as well!

By Irene Becker, mama of two and founder of®.