Aren’t those just the three most beautiful words ever?
As a mom who raised four children, and sent them off to various classrooms each September, feelings are mixed.
It’s a milestone, more so than birthdays even, as one marks the progress of her babies…. preschool, Grade 1, middle school, high school and eventually university.
That last one is a killer, not so much for the expense but because someone who grew up in what feels like 10 minutes is going away, and will come home different at Thanksgiving.
I have screwed up the beginning of school in so many different ways, spread across offspring and years, it feels right to give advice on what not to do.
First, don’t spend a lot of money.
Back to school has evolved into a commercial event rivalling Valentine’s Day, putting unreasonable strain on many parents.
Forty-plus years ago, when I was a student, our school board in Ontario did not allow kids to bring their own supplies.
Paper, pencils, pens, notebooks, erasers, glue and so on were all paid for, and we toted them back and forth in an Adidas gym bag. (Gym bag not provided.) Also there was no bus and the walk to school was uphill both ways.
When my kids were in elementary school we were required to send a box of Kleenex during the first week, so that everyone could blow their nose.
I always contributed rolls of toilet paper, cause it was what we used at home.
Our back-to-school shopping always started at the bottom of the toy closet, where the spawn had deposited their backpacks on the last day in June. They still contained just about everything that was on the school list, and once you scraped off a bit of mould and sprayed some disinfectant it was all good to go.
Don’t feel any obligation to buy your child a new wardrobe for a different school year.
Whatever they were wearing in August is going to be fine in September, unless they have abnormal growth patterns.
And then there are school lunches.
The key to managing these is to put all cheese strings, granola bars and pudding cups in a locked cupboard and hold the only key.
Trust me, it reduces at-home stress.
If the school lunch is a stretch for the family income, your local food bank can help and there is no shame in that. You are feeding your child.
Also, be as involved as you are able in school culture.
Attend Parent Advisory Committee meetings, and don’t be shy about communicating with your child’s teacher, or the school principal. (Ha. I’ve worn a path to the latter’s office.)
Help your kids with their homework. But not too much.
Finally. Don’t blink.
The days of being able to stick finger paintings, essays and tests to the fridge door go faster than you think.