As a teacher, August seems like a perpetual Sunday.
If you are like me and often face the “Sunday Scaries,” then you should know what I am talking about. August is like a countdown back to schedules, to packing lunches, fighting over getting homework done, running from activity to activity, and of course all of this means back to school. My 8-year-old has already lamented about going back to school several times since July! But I totally get where he is coming from, not just as a teacher going back to school myself, but as a busy, working mom preparing for all that September brings.
So to prepare for the looming back to school season, I have compiled a 5 step process to get ready.
Step One: Sit back and enjoy the time. By looking at August as a constant Sunday night before work, I am already putting a damper on an entire month! A month of beach time, pool parties, BBQs, and taking it slow and spending time with family and friends. So I am going to start by reframing my last month of summer for myself and my boys and having us enjoy every day in August that we have left. I am going to try not to think of the looming schedule craziness that will begin by the month’s end, and just enjoy the time we do have left this summer.
Next time my son asks me how many days are left until school starts, I am just going to tell him to think about all of the fun stuff he still wants to do while the weather is warm and the days are long. I am going to have him create an August bucket list of the things he wants to accomplish before he goes back to school. Hopefully, this will keep my son’s attention on having fun rather than stressing over the summer’s end.
Step Two: Set yourself up for success with a calendar. This Fall I will have both of my boys at the same elementary school and after-school program. Which in some ways is a dream. However, with my younger son starting kindergarten, it just means more scheduled outside of school activities. To keep these activities and my mind straight, especially as I go back to work too, I am going to buy a large calendar to keep in our kitchen. I have always been a supporter of lists and keeping organized, so why not get my kids and husband on board as well? This calendar will be a reminder to everyone in the house of what activities they have coming up that month, including sports, birthday parties, family events, etc. This will also hopefully eliminate the 7:00 a.m. text from my husband asking whether or not to pack my son’s swim stuff for practice or where the kids are going after school.
Step Three: Do your back-to-school shopping early. I have always hated walking into a store in June and seeing the dreaded back-to-school section. It was bad enough that stores started displaying Halloween decorations in August and now back to school seems to start the day school ends in June! As a true opponent to shopping for back to school too early, I am going to change my ways a little this year and rather than looking at back to school shopping as a bad thing, I will take my time and enjoy it. This will also allow for my kids to get excited, instead of stressing at the last minute and not getting the lunchbox they wanted or the new sneakers they were pining over. So far this summer, I have bought both my sons new lunch boxes, backpacks, and water bottles for the upcoming school year. These supplies will be kept away until the school year starts and are not allowed to be used this summer. This anticipation adds to the excitement of back to school, rather than the horror!
Step Four: Get back into the swing of things slowly. July can and always will be the free-for-all month. It’s the summer month when kids go to bed past 10:00 p.m., eat junk food for breakfast, and all your parenting rules from the school year go out the window. August should be used as a way to slowly transition your kids, and yourself, back into the schedule and rigor of the school year. For me, I am going to start first with eating better and conditioning myself into a healthier schedule with workouts and getting to bed earlier. This regiment will help my mind and body get ready for the Fall and will also motivate me to get more stuff done before the school year begins.
For my kids, I will start by slowly having them get to bed earlier. I will not announce this to them but will start implementing more reading time at night and getting into the nighttime routine earlier than we have been in the last few weeks. This will not only help them transition back to an earlier bedtime but will help wind them down after a long day of play and fun.
Step Five: Stop and smell the roses. My husband always makes fun of me when I complain about going back to work after having the summer off. He often reminds me that in many careers, people don’t have the luxury of having two solid months free. I do get where he is coming from and am trying to learn to just enjoy the time I have off and not stress so much about going back to work. Summer is a great time to unwind and reset for the upcoming school year, but there is also a lot of good that comes along with going back to school and work. Being in a routine always makes me more productive. I cook more meals at home, pack my lunches and save a ton of money. I always joke that being home in the summer makes me fat and broke!
Going back to school shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing for my kids as well. I don’t want them to get a negative attitude towards school. I want to remind them that at school they get to see their friends, learn new things, play with new materials and experience more. Hopefully, if I don’t sweat the idea of going back to school, my kids won’t either.