It’s back to school time! Thank the fucking lord. Let’s pour a glass of wine and reflect on a job well done for getting our kids back to school.
Transitioning Back to School
In my town kids go to summer camp. This is what I did when I was a kid as well. As an adult, I realize this experience is not universal.
Summer camp is a magical place. The only requirement is to have fun. There’s swimming, sports, arts and crafts, popsicles, lanyards and cool older kids.
As wonderful as it is for the kids, it’s even better for parents. Your kid gets on the bus early in the morning and doesn’t come home until the very late afternoon. There are no homework or class projects to worry about. Waking up your kid is easy. No dragging anyone out of bed.
When camp ends everyone is sad. The kids are sad because they’ve just had the summer of their lives. The parents are sad because there is usually about a week or two before school starts.
The down time between camp and school is necessary but annoying. The kids definitely need to detox from camp. It’s time to recharge, but they have no patience for “having nothing to do” before school starts.
My daughters tend to be especially moody during this period. They are coming down from the high of camp, missing their friends and their days filled with fun. Everyone is adjusting. Back to school means more structure and new schedules.
There is mounting anxiety about the start of a new school year and the pain of school supply shopping. What starts out as a fun trip to Target, quickly amounts to everyone leaving the store tense and broke.
Every year I allow myself to be the punching bag for their emotions and their calming force. It’s a mom’s job. I take the first few days of school off from work to spend time with them and get them prepared. No matter how emotionally and physically draining this is for all of us, I know it’s important that I’m there.
This year was especially brutal. We are starting second grade and kindergarten. Mia is now fully conscious she is in elementary school and this status brings a lot of responsibility. She was very emotional the night before school started and there were lots of tears. I let her cry it out. A good cry always helps.
Lana needs to start kindergarten. She could use some discipline. Her nerves manifested into two raging temper tantrums. I sent her to her room where she tore some shit up and screamed. I bet it felt great.
This year, I was fully present and engaged for my days with them. I put my out of office on at work and had a “no social media” policy for the daytime.
It was hard.
It was actually pretty easy to disengage from the work. I thought I would have a harder time avoiding social media. Not being tied to my phone was liberating.
What was difficult was being 100% devoted to every little effing thing my kids did, said, or wanted to do. During the day, I follow my own schedule. This week I was definitely on theirs.
Working is hard. It’s taxing to my brain and usually, when I come home I’m physically tired, but more than anything, my mental energy is zapped.
This was not the case with my kids. I was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day. Granted I was also full-time parenting them during a particularly tumultuous time as explained above. But the energy exerted to being in the moment with them was intense.
I did feel rewarded from my work as a mom the last few days. I feel good that I got them off on the right foot for the new school year. It makes me feel like a good mom for making the effort even if the days were a roller coaster ride of emotions.
I could see how staying home with my kids full time would make our lives easier. We’d eat dinner at a normal time. We’d go to bed at a better time. We’d be more organized. As a result, life probably wouldn’t feel so scattered and chaotic.
However, this is not my reality and for one week a year, I’ll pretend I stay at home. This is part of the equation for trying to have it all.
I’m sure when I’m older and they are grown, I’ll reflect on back to school time as fun and special. For now, I’ll be glad next week when we all are back to our regularly scheduled programming.