Those moms and dads who love the scheduled feel of school, the clanging of the school bell and the smell of textbooks in the air are joyous and euphoric. Those of us who are still wondering where the heck our summer went and WHY exactly we have to wear shoes need to find a friend from the first group. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it might just be what we need as we once again start the wonderful insanity of…THE SCHOOL YEAR!
I welcome with open arms the change in the pace of life that comes with the last ring of the school bell. In stark contrast, I dread the first school bell of the new school year. My summer went by way too fast, but I know for some it may have dragged on, and on and…on. Regardless of how you feel, time waits for no man, woman or child and that first bell WILL ring! For me, I feel like I’m gearing up for a wrestling match and in the back of my mind, I keep hearing “ARE YOU READY TO RUUUUUMBLE?”
No. NO I AM NOT. Past experience however has taught me the rumble is coming and if we as parents don’t get ready, we will be run over and flipped into a “full nelson” (that’s a double shoulder lock in the wrestling world). I could possibly live with a little calamity if it only affected me, but it doesn’t. If I’m not on my A game, at least on the first day of school, I’m not just setting myself up for unnecessary challenges, I’m setting the tone –for better or for worse- for my child.
I’m not talking about the school supply list or school clothes. Yes, those are necessary of course. Naked, paperless children are never a good idea. I’m talking about shifting life back to a school minded schedule. Routines need to tighten up, bed times must be enforced once again and weekly family planning time should be reinstituted if you, like me, stopped planning the minute the school year ended.
An Attitude of Excitement
If you just groaned and thought, “This lady is ridiculous,” well you’re not alone, but please stay with me. Your kids will take their cue from you. There is no stronger teacher or influence in the home than a parent on a child’s outlook and attitude.
If you grumpily look for school supplies, gripe about the passing days of summer and groan at the thought of “Parent Night,” then you shouldn’t be surprised when your kiddos fight you tooth and nail at every turn when it comes to the world of academia.
However, if you highlight the advantages of the year, the season and the activities that come with school, it makes things go a little smoother. This of course is no guarantee. School can be hard, frustrating and difficult. So why make it worse before it even gets going?
Now here is a little secret. I. Don’t. Like. School. I don’t. I just don’t. I have multiple children in multiple schools and that means I have that many more opportunities to forget a lunch or a field trip permission slip, miss a program or not sign the homework folder (for three weeks straight). I have the opportunity to REALLY win worst mother of the year award. I no longer even pretend to consider being a room mother. Oh. My. Gosh. Can you imagine? I would not only be providing therapy fodder for my children, but all the other kids in their class as well!
So if you are attitude challenged and dreading the school year, you are going to have to do what I do.
I’m not even kidding a little bit. I fake it. My own angst shouldn’t cause the kids to start school off dreading the alarm clock at 0500 in the morning. So this is how I fake it. I find things to be genuinely excited about. I am careful I don’t whine in front of them, and I look for the things I love about this time of year. Polly Anna-ish? Yes, but it works. In fact, it’s amazing that most of the time once I get going, I really begin to not just endure the school year, but I enjoy it and am able to really be present for my kids and what they need.
Keep in mind, you will always find what you look for. If you look for the happy and exciting, you’ll find it. That includes their new teachers too. Find something to like about them and help your children learn to like their teachers too. It will make all the difference in their ability to learn.
Take a few days to get “your ducks in a row.” Clean out closets and make lists of school clothes and other items that need to be replaced. You don’t have to do it all at once. A few new clothing items to start the year off are great. A whole new wardrobe is unnecessary. You just don’t want to get to the end of that first week of school and find out nothing else fits!
Determine now where and how things will go—like where papers go that parents need to see and sign, where homework is done, WHEN homework is done and what the house rules are for the school year. Work out pick up and drop off schedules, practices and evening activities. Make all those decisions before the first day of school.
Our lives are overscheduled with fun, learning, work, family and anything else you can think of. With the school year comes accountability to be, to do and to have. During the summer break, we usually don’t have as many organizations or people we are accountable to. During the school year, we have deadlines and timelines that are driven by school, events and other activities.
As sports, lessons, projects and social events swirl around you, know you are not alone if you want to jump off the merry-go-round! If you’re like me, I’m just trying to remember who eats crunchy peanut butter and who doesn’t! Planning with a purpose once a week with your family will make a huge difference in your ability to not only get where you need to be and with which child, but you just might enjoy it!