Can we get real for a second? This back to school stuff is hard, for all of us. Yes, there is so much excitement, and it feels great to get into a new routine. But the reality is, this time of year can be hard ( for kids and mommas alike). New routines, new expectations, new friends. It can be a lot for any adult, let alone child.
In the past few weeks I’ve seen a lot of online articles sharing tips and tricks for going back to school and making things “easier” or “smoother” for our kiddos, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been a little confused. Has there really been an easier way to start the school year, and I’ve just missed it all these years? Was making lunches the night before, and changing bed time routines really all I needed to do? Wow, wish I would have known?!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these articles have the best of intentions, mean well, and do offer some good practical advice. But for a lot of us, this time of year can be a little more complicated than just changing bedtime routines.
So I wanted to share with any of you mommas out there who’s household may be feeling a little “off” these days, what we’re working on in our home. What “back to school” advice I’m not just sharing, but more importantly am taking myself this year.
Lower your expectations, and then lower them again
This time of the years IS going to be hectic, and it IS going to be hard, for us and our kids. It just is. There’s nothing any of us can do to change that. So first and foremost, I’m swimming upstream this year, and instead am giving in to the fact that most of this is out of my control, and it’s just going to be a little bit of a bumpy ride for a few days, weeks, or maybe even months.
I’m starting the year off by lowering my expectations. We’re going to run late, and it’s ok. Kids are going to have meltdowns, it’s to be expected. Forms are going to be missed, or turned in late, or just left in the bottom of back-packs, and it’s all ok.
The battle is so much harder though we when we expect those things NOT to happen. So I’m going in with realistic expectations (and then cutting those expectations in half again). You just never know, maybe this will be the year that things go smoother than planned.
You don’t have to know it all.
I was talking with Sloan earlier about the start of the school year and he said he was nervous about going because he didn’t “know everything”. I quietly smiled, laughed to myself, and then reminded him that no one does, and that school is where you go TO learn.
The more I thought about it though, I realized that I often feel the same way as Sloan. So often I go into new experiences feeling as though I should already “know it all”. I should already know how the new fall schedule will look or feel. I should know how my kids are going to react or respond to these new situations. I should already know the best way to get it all done.
When, in reality, this is my time to learn as well. So much of this is still so new and unknown, for all of us.
So maybe when I was sitting there talking with Sloan that afternoon what I should have said, was, “me and you both, little guy. We don’t know it all….and that’s quite alright.”
Sleep on it
JonPaul started a new job here in Chicago and one of the things his new work culture believes is that if you have a tough problem to solve, go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. How great is that? But how often do I do that, never.
I was thinking about this with the kids and I this fall and I love this idea for us. There are so many times late in the evening I’ll still be going through folders, and back-packs and sending e-mails thinking, “if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done”. But in reality, the stuff that matters always gets done. And the stuff that doesn’t, probably didn’t matter anyway.
So often I look at things as urgent, and I know I influence the kids with this same behavior. We live in a “do it now” kind of world. But I promise you, it’s ok to sleep on things. It’s ok to turn off the light, close your eyes and just let it go.
It’s ok to make mistakes
Sloan came home from school on his first day so excited to share with me all about a book he read, “It’s ok to make mistakes”. As we were sitting there chatting, Frankie spilled his milk and little Sloan smiled and replied, “it’s ok Frankie, it’s just a mistake, mom can clean it up. It’s ok to make mistakes”.
I immediately scooped that little boy up, looked right into those sweet little eyes and asked him how he got so smart.
Mistakes are NOT something I’m very good at being ok with (but let’s be honest, I make ALL the time). They can be fixed. They can be cleaned up.
I think sometimes as the mom of this household I try to run such a tight ship, that I forget to teach my kids that it’s ok to make mistakes. That it’s ok to not be perfect at school. To fail, to not do well on a test, or not be a good friend, to not be organized, or remember your homework.
This is how we learn. Through these mistakes. It’s how I have learned over the years, and how my kids need to learn. We learn by messing up…both the big things and the small things.
Have a little faith
This is a hard one for me. As I sit and look at our fall calendar, all color coded with four different kids activities to juggle, I almost immediately have a panic attack. How will they get there? How will I manage it? It always feels like a jigsaw puzzle. But every year, they do. Kids make it to games, and practices, and even back home. No one has yet to be left at a soccer field (well, at least for not too long).
My work this year isn’t in trying to solve my jigsaw puzzle, but instead have faith that it will all work itself out, because it always does.
So much time and energy could be saved if I had more faith this year, in the big things and the small things. Worrying about how the kids are doing with friends, will they make the team, who will they sit next to at lunch, are they happy…. and on it goes.
Maybe the start of this school year is the perfect time to have a little more faith; in my jigsaw puzzle, my kids, and especially myself.
Regardless of how your school is starting off, for you or your kids, I hope that this just helps remind us all that no matter how seasoned we are as mother’s, these types of transitions are challenging. And that maybe this year we can make it a little easier on ourselves by giving each other, and especially ourselves, a little more patience, love and grace.
Wishing you and your little ones a healthy and joyful year ahead.