Dear Moms sending children back to school,
Sending children back to school with delight
For some of you, sending children back to school is a joyous day. It’s the day you get your house back, your quiet, your peace. You happily put your children on the bus and waved a happy goodbye, or you drove them to school with a happy “Have a great day!” as you dropped them off and sped away. I get it. Some years I was just like you. August couldn’t get here fast enough because we all needed the routine and the peace it brought. Here are three back to school tips to keep your happiness going.
- Take a moment after school to ask about your child’s day and listen if they want to tell you.
- Set aside time to process school information. Pay fees. Fill out paperwork and make sure your child is up to date on immunizations.
- Plan a special dinner to celebrate your child’s first day of school (and silently, your first day of freedom)
Sending children back to school when you’re not ready
For others, today ends a happy summer, and you’re sad to see it go. You wish you had one more day, one more week to squeeze more fun out of summer. You’re not quite ready for routines and practices and homework, but you’ll buckle down and get it done because that’s what moms do. I’ve been there, and I know those memories will carry you to the next break.
- Resist the urge to tell your child how you feel. Instead, focus on what a happy summer you had and how you can make this school year fun as well.
- If you’re not ready for routines, getting fees paid and paperwork filled out feels like a chore, but the sooner you take care of that, the better. Reward yourself and your family with a special treat when you finish like a family movie, game night or trip to the ice cream stand.
- Want to keep those memories alive? Look at photos you took. Re-create a favorite meal or a favorite moment from summer and keep the joy alive.
Sending children back to school with extra needs
Some of you have children with extra needs. I know how scary it is to send your baby into the unknown. You pray more for this child to have a kind, understanding teacher to protect them from bullies and that they might make a friend for the first time. You pray you can keep your mama bear claws in check because everyone is following the IEP, 504 or health plan. You pray that maybe you can have a year that looks normal. I’ve been there too, and I pray for all of this for you too.
- I know you will be the first mom to have your paperwork filled out. It’s almost become part of your DNA to make sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed. You deserve a treat for that whether it’s a moment of family time, a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine. It all counts.
- Send an email to your child’s teacher(s). Introduce yourself and your child. Give enough information to make it easier for your child and the teacher(s) but not enough for them to think they know all about your child. Give them a chance to create a bond of their own, and you may be delighted by the outcome.
- Connect with other moms with children with extra needs. Your children’s needs may be different, but you’ll definitely have stories to tell and support to give that no other parents will understand.
Sending children back to school for the last time
Then there are the moms who are experiencing their lasts; last child to kindergarten, last year at a favorite school, last year of high school. I’ve been there too. It’s scary and exciting to see your babies grow, wondering if you’ve prepared them for this next big step. The truth is, we all do our best, and most of us could have done a little more, but we’re human, and our kids love us anyway, most of the time.
- Whether it’s kindergarten or college, those lasts stay with you. Maybe you are rejoicing. Maybe you are grieving the life you leave behind. Take a moment to enjoy what you can to make this a special moment for you and your child.
- Make a plan. The moms who enjoy the process most are the ones who have a plan to enjoy their new situation. Celebrate what was and what is coming. When my last child started kindergarten, I scheduled lunches with other kindergarten moms. As my youngest leaves for college, I have several fun business opportunities I am following. Do something that makes you happy.
- Forgive yourself. You probably forgot to teach them something or wish you did something better as a parent. Let it go. You cannot change the past, but you can decide to make the future better. Do that and life will be better for everyone.
When you’re sending kids onto college
As my own nest empties in the next week, I’m reminded of the quote that the days are long, but the years fly by. As I move my youngest son to college this month, those words feel truer than ever. On our way to his new, temporary home, we’ll drive by the hospital where he spent his first five weeks of life after I spent 8 weeks there waiting for his birth. I will wonder, as I did with both of his brothers, if I’ve prepared him for adult life. I’ll pray every day that wherever I faltered he will rise to the occasion, and he will forgive me and understand how hard I tried.
A salute to all moms
Whether you’re happy, sad, frightened or something else, I wish you the best year possible, and I salute you all. As I end my daily mothering duties, I turn my attention to helping other mothers be the best they can me, not to be like me, but to be the best version of mom for them. For some that means staying at home. For others that means part or full-time work. The faces and stories of great moms are endless, and nothing makes me happier than to see families thrive. I wrote about that in my book Everyday heroes of Motherhood to encourage moms everywhere. Click here to purchase your copy from Amazon.
Join other parents in the journey to be better
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