In the 25th of our series, our mom of three kids--Emily, Grant, and Lynn--prepares for a new school year. When she turns to the Internet for tips on making things easier, she finds the advice unrealistic and decides to offer some alternative suggestions.
As glad as I am to get the kids back to the routine of school, there is also a price to pay for that.
Several prices actually. Do I dare add up how much money I’ve spent on school supplies, backpacks, shoes (indoor and outdoor of course), lunch kits, clothes--multiplied by three of course. Then there’s the fun job of labelling all the supplies with each child’s name.
The first day of school should be interesting. All the primary grades and intermediate grades are grouped together in pods for the first week before they are assigned to their classrooms. Something to do with enrolment figures and class sizes.
What it actually amounts to though, is a whole lot of confusion for my kids, especially for Lynn and Grant. They don’t handle changes and transitions well when they’re overwhelmed with noise and lots of people. Typically, Lynn will shut down, while Grant will get more and more agitated until he’s bouncing off the walls. I’ll try to explain to them what will happen and, hopefully, that will help a bit.
I decided to do some research on the internet to find some helpful tips to make the transition easier. Here’s what I found:
Internet tip #1: "Pare down your to-do list. You want the first week of school to be fun, not frantic.” How can I pare it down any more? There’s way too much to get done. As for “fun not frantic” - some of us thrive on frantic - or at least that’s how it seems.
My tip #1: Accept that it’s okay to show up to school without makeup, and wearing the stained yoga pants you wore the day before.
Internet tip #2: “Serve healthy, easy to prepare dinners. How is that possible? ‘Healthy and easy to prepare' do not go together--at least not in my world.
My tip #2: Stock up on Kraft Dinner, mini carrots, cheese strings, bagged salad, and prepackaged snacks. Once you get in the habit of buying packaged food, the guilt you feel about not making things from scratch goes away... eventually.
Internet tip #3: "Make sleep a priority." Yeah, I’ll make sleep a priority--right after I finish cutting up all those healthy foods for my easy to prepare dinners.
My tip #3: Stock up on the largest bottles of Melatonin you can find. If your pediatrician says it’s okay to give to the kids, use it! Because if your kids don’t get to sleep at a reasonable time, neither will you. A sleep-deprived mommy is not a fun mommy to be around (Except of course for when other mom’s are around then we switch to our nice-mom personality).
Internet tip #4: "Celebrate going back to school with a party. Invite neighborhood pals and friends from school to join in the fun." I’ll get right on that one.
My tip #4: Convince the neighbor who lives at least three houses away from you to invite the neighborhood to a back to school party.
Internet tip #5: "Help your child set goals for the new school year and beyond." Goals? My kids can’t seem to think about what happened the last time they cut all their Barbie’s hair off, not to mention planning any further ahead than the next 15 minutes.
My tip #5: Using short sentences with very few words, remind your kids that they will soon be travelling on a school bus that will take them to a magical place where nice ladies help them to read and do crafts while Mommy has a few precious minutes to herself.
Internet tip #6: "Have your child write a colourful letter introducing him or her to the new teacher." Yeah right. The last thing I need is for my kids to be labeled “suck ups.” They have enough labels as it is.
My tip #6: Have the following conversation with his or her teacher: “Hi I’m Grant’s mom. Perhaps you’ve heard about us from other staff? If you haven’t had a chance to read Grant’s file yet, you may want to take a few minutes to read through some of his challenges and strengths. Then perhaps I can give you some tips on what works well with him. It will make your life so much easier.”
Internet tip #7: "Avoid yelling if your child resists getting up from bed, brushing his teeth, or getting dressed, and expect an occasional meltdown." Occasional! What planet are you living on?
My tip #7: Expect at least one daily meltdown—from yourself and your kids. Kids who don’t do well with change or transition are going to fight it big time. And unless you’ve followed tip #3 diligently, it will be way worse. And hey, we’re all human and, yes, we yell at our children sometimes. It’s not the end of the world, especially if you apologize afterwards.
So, I guess I’m about as prepared as I can be for the back to school challenges. Now all I have to worry about all the after school activities!