Back to School

Ugh. I am so sorry. That is a terrible title for anything. Overused. Though accurate.

It is always surprising to me how quickly we adjust back to the school schedule and how soon we lose that full but flexible feeling of summer. It’s not necessarily a smooth transition, but within a week or so, we all look at each other and say, “Where did summer go??” It is a tribute to our ability to adjust to new situations, so we should be glad of it. But every year, there are things I want to hold on to from summer…things I don’t want to lose in the shuffle of adjusting to “regular” schedules again. These are the things that I hope will not only help me feel grounded as a person and a parent, but will set the example for my kids of how to do the same.

  1. Sleep well and practice the military’s mantra “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.” (It’s worth reading this short piece, because parents need their rest to make good decisions just as much as soldiers do.) I’m surely not the only person who wakes up at 3:00 am and starts to ruminate on whatever worries arise. And the prime worry during the school year is, “Are they OKAY? Have I covered all our bases? Do I need to encourage her more? Let him relax more? Sign her up for Russian Math? Sign him up for Singapore Math? Sign her up for ANY math?? Get him involved in more sports? Fewer sports? Crap, what about art. And music. Is it too early for debate club?” Three o’clock in the middle of the night is not the time to worry about these things. Neither is three o’clock in the afternoon. There is NO good time to let these worries worry you (me.) The kids are alright. If he needs help with something or needs more or less of something, IT WILL BE CLEAR. Your (my) job is to be well rested and pay attention so we don’t miss the clear messages for the unneccesary worries.
  2. Take everybody’s stories with a grain of salt. This includes anything you hear on social media from friends about parenting, schools, etc. as well as the chit chat over coffee.  This includes all the books and articles that tell you how to parent. (Yes, this blog included.) I’m thinking particularly of other people’s judgments of teachers, but this applies to anything someone else tells you about how they parent or what choices they have made for themselves and their kids. But the teacher thing is particularly important… hold off judgement on the teacher.  It’s only the first weeks of school. Take other’s people’s opinions and judgments with a grain of salt. Even your own child’s. Wait and see. Listen and observe. Not only do those people sharing their judgments speak from a completely different experience than you may have, but they also might simply need to get something off their chest. Nothing wrong with that. Let them. Don’t let their situation set the tone for yours.
  3. Keep playing. It’s easy to get serious now that school and work and schedules are in full swing again. The kids are young. Enjoy them. Play outdoor games while you can. Play indoor games. Play board games. Play clean up the house games. Play drawing and painting games. Play cook dinner games. Play together even just a little bit. Choose play over worry. And if you find yourself worrying about not playing enough, laugh at yourself and refer back to #1 on the list.

There we go. Easy peasy, right? Right. Have a great school year!

(Mathematically…this may not have seemed like a mathy post, but how you set the tone in your home and with your parenting affects what the kids take to and from school. Math is a subject that we have been told is VERY IMPORTANT at school, and therefore it is something to worry about. We worry whether our kids are getting enough support if they are struggling. We worry whether our kids are getting enough challenge if they are excelling. We worry if we should do what that other parent is doing for their child. Don’t worry about these things. Be well rested and grounded so you can observe your own children well and respond to their particular situation when needed.)


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