Louise Mallett is no stranger to jitters on the first day of school.
The mother-of-three has previously shipped off her 10- and 7-year-olds with minimal issues. For her first two, she was probably more nervous than her children!
But when it was time for her baby Max’s first day, the pair had a harder time with the transition. While his siblings were off at school, Max had become Louise’s “sidekick,” enjoying his mother’s undivided attention while his other siblings were at school full time.
So with Max’s first day looming, Louise could tell he was nervous and emotional. She told Dearly that when Max is nervous or worried, “the littlest thing will make him angry and he’ll cry.” To soothe her son and help him leave home with a “happy face,” Louise came up with an idea that ended up benefiting the both of them. She shared the concept of a “hug button” on The Motherload, and later shared the post publicly on her Facebook.
She explained to Dearly that she said to Max:
“[L]ook as a mummy I have a special power and you can have it too, what I’ll do is draw a heart on your hand and a heart on my hand, and when you are feeling sad and just need a big hug from mummy you press your heart and I will feel it and I will press mine back and you will feel a great big hug inside from me.”
Louise said that the idea instantly cheered Max up. But when he finished getting ready for school, she noticed his button was rubbing off, so she drew backup buttons on both of their arms. After all she “didn’t want him to avoid washing his hands all day!”
Louise explained that the hug button “charges” by holding hands, so the pair walked hand in hand on the way to school, culminating the walk with a high-five. Max grinned all the way into class.Courtesy of Louise Mallett
Still grinning after the day, Louise was thrilled to see that Max was “physically jumping with excitement.” When she asked if he “felt” her hugs, he cried out:
“Yep I really did! I pushed mine really hard but I didn’t cry!”
They’ve continued their tradition ever since.
Louise admitted to Dearly that the hug button worked just as effectively for her as it did for her son. She said:
“I found myself subconsciously rubbing or pressing my palm where the heart was and even now that I’ve come to terms with him going I always make sure I have the heart on and if it starts to come off I draw it back on!”
As a mother, it is important to Louise to be strong in front of her children because if the kids see you worried, they will be worried. As a result, she tries to foster positive emotions in her children. So rather than saying, “It’s so sad you’re starting school I’m going to miss you,” she says:
“[I]t’s so exciting that you’re starting school, mummy will miss you because mummy loves you lots but you will have so much fun and we still get to have fun after school and at the weekends!”
Editor of The Motherload Alison McGarragh-Murphy said to Dearly, in part that:
Courtesy of The Motherload
“Lots of mums in our lovely supportive community tried hug buttons too, and found that they also helped their child cope better with going to school for the first time. It’s such a sweet, simple way to help your child feel happier and more settled. All you need is a pen, two hands and a lot of love.”
And while Louise may be sad that all her children are off at school while she “sit[s] at home with the dog and [cries],” she told Dearly that she knows they are all “growing into happy confident children.”
Transitioning into school can be difficult, but Alison said that as parents:
“We know what is right for our children and what they need, it’s a mother’s instinct.”