Summer is winding down and many of us are gearing up for back to school.
Whether you spent the summer preparing your firstborn (and yourself — sniff sniff) for kindergarten or visiting colleges with your incoming senior, it’s impossible to escape the anticipation. But in many households (mine included) it’s hard to tell who is more excited — the kids or the parents.
Has anyone else been counting down the days until school starts?
Yes, we love our kids and yes, we love summer. The smell of sunscreen, the sand between our toes, tan lines, boating on the lake. Summer ales.
But let’s face it. It’s time.
If you’re feeling a little burnt out on summer, I guarantee you’re not alone. For every parent that cries when it’s over I’m pretty sure there are two more crying tears of joy. So we’re here to remind you — you’re not alone. In fact … it’s perfectly okay if you:
1. Were full of good intentions, but not so great with the follow through
Many of us started the summer with the best of intentions. Summer reading lists, math worksheets, library trips — it all sounded so great.
But then, well … we get it. I think the last entry in my daughter’s summer writing journal is June 9th. Oops. I’ll do better next year.
2. Started strong, then petered out
For the first month of the summer you planned special outings for your staycation. Museums, state parks, the zoo. You made forts. You searched Pinterest for crafts to do with your kids — then actually did them. Popsicle stick birdhouses? Check.
You limited screen time. You heard, “watch me!” 267 times as your kid cannonballed in to the community pool. You sprayed sunscreen on tiny bodies 412 times (until you read a study that the spray kind is bad for kids, and you felt bad and vowed never to buy that kind anymore — but not before finishing the bottle first because that stuff’s expensive!).
It was fun and full of great memories, but now into August the novelty is long gone, and if you work from home your productivity has greatly decreased. The kids are either bored or fighting and you’re begging them to just “be quiet and watch TV!”
3. Didn’t get around to all the back-to-school shopping you planned
You know what? You don’t actually need to do that shopping for at least another month. Maybe two. We’re in Austin, where it’s still 90+ degrees when kids start school. They have no use for those trendy long sleeves shirts and jeans yet.
A few new things are fun and help build excitement for back to school, but there’s no need to stress or go crazy. They went to school in something last May, and there’s a good chance whatever that was still fits. In reality as long as they meet the dress code and have those required athletic shoes for P.E. they’ll be fine.
Wait a month and it’ll all be on sale. That’ll give them time to see what their friends are wearing anyway — because of course that’s what they’ll really want.
4. Got the wrong brand of a school supply item
Uh oh. You realized too late that you missed the deadline to pre-order the school supplies package through your kid’s school, so now you’re facing the daunting task of finding them all yourself. If this is your first supply shopping I have two words for you: good luck.
This mission is like a scavenger hunt that is nearly impossible to win. The brands and colors are very specific — don’t even think about getting generic tissue when it calls for Kleenex brand!
Problem is, Target is inevitably out of whatever item you need. So you pop on over to Walmart. No luck. You try H-E-B. Out of stock. Same story at Walgreens. You would order online, but naturally you procrastinated and you need it tomorrow.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. You get the generic brand of dry erase markers and hope no one notices or calls your kid out on the first day of school. Listen, it happens. You tried your best. We won’t tell.
5. Planned a back-to-school celebration. For the adults.
I’ve heard of parents waving goodbye to the kids on the bus and breaking out the mimosas right away. Or a lunch date for the parents, sans kids (what a concept!). It’s okay to be mixed — a little sad that your kids are another year older, but also thrilled to have a teeny bit of sanity back.
So whether you feel happy or sad about the end of summer — or perhaps a little bit of both — the important thing is to tell your kids how much you love them, give them that all important breakfast and send them off with as much confidence as you can muster.
And of course, give a huge thank you to all the teachers out there! We can’t thank them enough for all they do.
Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on August 22, 2014.