Son holding his mom's hand

Balancing Back to School

For my family, back to school means back to chaos and crazy schedules. Gone are the days when the kids sleep in and I don’t have to pack lunches or play chauffer. The words “back to school” invoke a dichotomy of emotion for me. On one hand, it’s nice to have a set schedule and for my son to be at school most of the day. On the other hand, it means that we have more to fit into our days with sports, committees, fundraisers and events. I work full time with two kids, a deployed husband and a ranch with 50 or so animals. We live in a very small ranching community where everyone knows everyone… and their mother’s sister’s boy with the yellow tractor up the road. Because it is such a small community, everyone knows who does and doesn’t attend functions or help out with things, so the pressure is high.

I am definitely not a super mom who is involved in every aspect of my kids’ lives. I know some of them, and I envy their commitment, but that’s simply not attainable for me. When my husband isn’t deployed, I am the primary source of income for our family. My career is very important to me and I work a lot. As a result, I have very little spare time. Here are a few tips I’ve found that provide the most impact when it comes to my kids’ activities:

  1. Befriend the super mom. We always have one in the group who is involved in everything and loves to do it. I usually offer to help in small ways, but don’t take on a large chunk of the responsibility. For example, if we are having a bake sale and I can’t devote hours to being there, I can spare 20 minutes to make brownies from a box and give them to her.
  2. Ask your child what is important. We often get a schedule of school events for the upcoming month that contains awards ceremonies, concerts, lunches, etc. I ask my son about each event and if he is participating. The less he knows about the topic, the less involved he is likely to be. Sometimes I have to skip the smaller things in order to hit the bigger things.
  3. Enlist help. My family is wonderful and very involved in each other’s lives. I can always count on them to help out – whether it’s bringing snacks to the T-ball team or helping to decorate for a class party.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say no. Truthfully, I say no more often than I say yes. Sometimes I am able to do a little something to help out, and sometimes I have to flat out say that I can’t help at all. Mom guilt is real, but at the end of the day, I have to pick and choose to participate in things based on what’s best for the greater good.

My kids won’t remember that I didn’t go on every field trip, and they certainly won’t remember how many cookies I sold at the bake sale. But they will remember that I tried to be there as often as I could, and if nothing else, I always encouraged them to participate.

Lee-Anne Castro
Written By Lee-Anne Castro
Army National Guard Spouse

Lee-Anne is an Army National Guard spouse of 13 years. She works full time, has two kids and thinks she is much funnier than she really is.

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