It’s that time of year again! You know the one I mean…the time of year when you can’t take two steps into a store before you are bombarded with backpacks, lunchboxes, and crayons galore. When the commercials flaunt ecstatic kids and parents frolicking through aisles filling shopping carts with more school supplies than could possibly be needed in a year. When your fridge becomes plastered in schedules and lists and reminders. When the thought of back to school makes you excited one day and sad the next…and you’re not even quite sure why.
How do moms and dads experience all these crazy back to school emotions and where do they come from?
Elation. Let’s be serious. The idea of getting to pee alone is amazing at this point in the summer. And getting to drink coffee while it is hot? Sweet. I think we’re all a bit excited to get a little “me” time back. We’re also excited for the kids. They’re going to learn, grow, and make new friends. It’s exciting to see them experience new firsts and develop even more of their personalities.
Sadness. Another summer in the books. Where did it go? Why is it that those winter months drag on and on, and yet the summer seems to be gone in a blink of an eye? And then there’s the Mommy Guilt. Did I do enough with them? Did I make memories for them? Despite all of the summer fun, the first day always seems to sneak up on us and, frankly, it can be a pretty depressing feeling.
Dread. Schedules and lunches and homework. OH MY. After a summer of less-hectic schedules, the idea of getting back into a routine can be daunting. Running here, there, and everywhere is exhausting for both us and the kiddos. And the lunches. Oh, the lunches. They may only take a few minutes to prepare, but many a lunch-making mom will agree–they are the bane of our existence. And then there’s the homework…enough said.
As moms, we might relate to one of these emotions– or all of them–on any given day. And tomorrow, we might feel the exact opposite. But what about that kids? My guess is they are dealing with the exact same emotions–maybe even the same ones at the same time.
How are kids experiencing these back to school emotions?
Elation. Some kids are crazy excited for the first day of school. They love the thrill of a new backpack and lunch box. Choosing a first day of school outfit is thrilling (and, as the case may be, all-consuming!). They can’t wait to see their friends and excitedly organize their school supplies for the first day. These kids WANT homework (crazy, I know). They just generally can’t wait to be back at it.
Sadness. Some kids are sad about going back. Sad that the summer is over. Sad to leave Mom, Dad, and/or siblings at home. Sad that the freedom that is summer is coming to an end. There may be tears (lots, sometimes) and temper tantrums. There may be sleepless nights and early mornings. Why? Because these kiddos are genuinely mourning their summer break being over.
Dread. Still other kids dread the first day. They aren’t ready (or willing) to get back on a schedule.
The idea of getting up early, getting dressed, and getting out the door is too much for them to handle. The thought of school work (let alone homework) darn near sends them over the edge. The anxiety of a new teacher/new procedures/new classmates is so overwhelming it actually hurts.
How do we handle all of these back to school emotions?
Who is right in with their back to school emotions? All us moms and all of these kids.
As we see the back to school commercials and are smacked in the face with back to school products everywhere from the mall to the grocery store, it is important for us to remember that we are all handling the upcoming change in very different ways.
In my house, I have kiddos who approach the year with very different outlooks. And my own perspective on the return to school changes with the wind. What I’ve learned is to go with those emotions. For the kiddo who’s excited–rejoice with him (even if you are crying on the inside!). For the child who is sad–listen and offer suggestions to help her get excited. For the one who’s dreading school–again, listen. Encourage.
For all kids–give hugs and help them feel supported and loved to be ready for the school year.