Can We Just Take a Moment to Acknowledge How Hard Back-to-School Can Be for Parents?
Some Parents LOVE Back-to-School!
So a few years back, a woman's back-to-school Facebook post went viral. She was lounging in a pool with a drink looking so happy and her three children looked so sad. Nydailynews.com reported, "[Alabama mom Jena Willingham ] the mother of three told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer having an empty house for the first time in years inspired her fun photo shoot."
The photo was never relatable to me.
This Parent Does Not Love Back-to-School
Back-to-school isn't a party at my house. Next to the holidays, it's the most stressful time of the year. As a full-time working mom, when my daughter started Kindergarten, there was no "getting my house back" for a blissful seven hours a day. It was just fourteen extra layers of stuff to do from reading logs to lunch money to that most dreaded task of all... getting to the bus on time.
Summer is a lot more laid back. I can drop her off and pick her up from day camp when I want. No playing "beat the bus." Or if I'm working at home and she wants to stay home with me, she can! Bedtimes aren't as enforced and I am not expected to remember to sign behavior charts and reading logs and permission slips on Thursday nights. Aw Lawd, I'm so bad at remembering this!
August also means the return of sports. Hey, so fun fact: my daughter's feet grow at an alarming rate. Guess who always forgets to check to make sure the brand new shoes she got three months prior still fit? Guess...
YES! It's me. And spoiler, they NEVER FIT! Her feet grew 1.5 sizes in three months. THREE MONTHS, PEOPLE!
And what back-to-school sesh would be complete without a few bank-account-breaking shopping trips for school supplies, clothes, and shoes only to hear on the fifth day of school, "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!"
So, I've done a lot of thought purging (aka complaining) in the past few moments. So, let's take a moment to appreciate that it's hard. Really really freaking hard for (some) parents to send their kids back to school. But let's also take a moment to realize that it's hard for a lot of us. My friend Vanessa Herr posted to her FB page this morning "5 days down, 175 to go" with a bunch of crying emojis. Same girl, same. But surely there are some things we can do to make this go a little smoother.
So, let's take a few moments of my workday to get my personal life straightened out, shall we?
HOW CAN WE MAKE BACK-TO-SCHOOL EASIER FOR PARENTS AND KIDS?
First and foremost, my kid needs sleep. I can guarantee 99% of her issues stem from being tired. Part of the reason is that she's not used to being "on" all day long. School is mentally and emotionally taxing for children. So, here's a good chart to go off of. Currently, my daughter is getting 10 hours but in talking to her, I found out she's waking up at night and having a hard time going back to sleep. She's tired! If you think your child isn't getting enough sleep, get them on a sleep schedule, use aids like noise machines (alexa works great), essential oils, and talk to their doctor about supplements like melatonin or stress relief supplements for kids. Oh, and guess what parents - you need rest too.
So, full disclosure... my daughter forgot to take her ADHD meds this morning. Had I been prepared and kept one in the car for just such an occasion or sent some in for the nurse to administer, I wouldn't be wondering all day if her missed medication is making it impossible for her to focus. I can also add a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bottled water in our prep bag because well, there has been more than one instance of us leaving the house and her confessing that she forgot to brush her teeth. Gross. And we are definitely avoiding the morning "I have nothing to wear meltdown" by having her pick out clothes, shoes, socks, and jewelry the night before. The ziplock bag hack worked wonders when she was little.
And let's not forget about me... my lack of preparation for myself has led to meltdowns too. I know I need to get my breakfast and lunch ready the night before and put all my things in one spot. It's essential for a smooth morning cuz if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
A CLEAN SPACE
So, her room is a mess. A big crazy mess. She is required to pick it up once a week but it just goes right back to mess. I avoid going in unless someone is prodding me with a cattle rod or the cat gets lost and I have to go on a rescue mission. This mess is problematic in morning routines. She can't find socks. She can't find shoes. She gets flustered. She and I both lose it. I'll be doing the deep clean this weekend.
A VISIBLE SCHEDULE
With all the craziness of sports schedules and homework that's due, I am considering moving to a family calendar that I can hang on the wall. Right now, my husband and I share a phone calendar but it's not fair to her to be at the age that she can understand what needs to happen but have no tangible way to see it. Now, fun part... let's go shopping on the clock, shall we?
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
One of the things I've found is that I always take off Cyber Monday and spend my whole day shopping for Christmas gifts. I also schedule in a vacation day to wrap gifts and finish shopping. Is this a waste of two vacation days? NO! It makes my life a LOT easier. So, why am I not doing this with back-to-school? I need a prep day and I need a reset day. On Friday, you might just see me poolside with a drink in my hand, taking selfies...