School Days


Despite the summer temperatures, my brain whispers “Fall”. Why? Because it’s September and back to school time. I still get those pre school butterflies as memories of sweaters, new shoes and backpacks find themselves occupying my mind. My grandson (a.k.a. the Grand Prince) began his third year at our neighborhood elementary school last week. I believe we were both ready for him to begin, having crammed in vacations, educational day trips, play dates, numerous barbecues with family and friends, a few birthday parties, pool parties and a smattering of lazy, couch potato days, the latter of which was deemed a necessity by moi simply to take a breath; all between mid June and August 31st. Whew! No wonder we were starving for a little structure and schedules!

Returning to school takes some preparation, even for the ‘seasoned’ parent and child. There will be new clothes, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes to buy. Perhaps finishing up that last book on the summer reading list and reorganizing the child’s desk to reflect the transition from ‘catch all’ to workspace. This is also a good time to sort through your child’s summer or fall clothes and deliver the no-way-this-fits-pile to your local consignment shop.

School supplies must fit into your budget as well. Teachers will usually send home a welcome letter to their students with a list of needed supplies as well as any donations much needed and appreciated for the classroom. For your older children, it’s best to wait until school begins to accommodate the requirements of more than one teacher. The Marilyn Manson or High School Musical three ring binder your child just had to have would be frowned upon when a plain white one was required.

Those lazy days of summer when sleeping past the alarm wasn’t a worry is now a very big deal. We all relax our schedules over the summer break and getting back on track for the fall transition can be a bit of a struggle. I always begin a good week to ten days before the official start of school by regulating bedtime. As with any new routine it’s not always well received, however, simply talking about the need for rest and the exciting new year ahead prepares children and allows them the ‘buy in’. I give the Grand Prince a little wiggle room with bedtime (“okay bud, you choose. 7:45? or 8:00?) I know, it’s a no brainer and he’s only 7 and can tell time but the key is HE gets to choose instead of me or the Spouse dictating a time.

The same goes for setting the morning alarm. Give yourself and your child the time you need in the mornings for breakfast, personal hygiene routines, dressing etc.
It’s crucial if, like me, you’re simply not a morning person or you can’t form a complete sentence without three cups of coffee under your belt. The Grand Prince takes his shower the night prior, decides on the day’s attire, gets his backpack ready with paperwork and snacks and hung on the newel post while I set a place for breakfast. The less you have to squeeze into your morning, the smoother it goes for everyone.

And on that first day of school, provided your child’s not horrified at the idea of being seen with you as their friends look on, you can get a hug, a smile and a “see you after school!” as they exit the car and into the world of academia, happy and ready to meet the day.

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Me Time

beach timeOne of the things I and most parents put aside is ‘me’ time. There’s always an excuse as to why we can’t read a book, go for a walk, exercise, take a night out, (a whole weekend!? forget it!) or simply pamper ourselves in whatever ways help us to relax. Yes we all know we should schedule time for ourselves; we all watch Oprah and Dr. Phil who herald the importance of taking care of ourselves first, make YOU a priority they say, but it’s the other shoulds that never cease whispering in our ear that keep us too busy.
Should clean that closet.
Should finish that yard work.
Should visit Aunt Sheila.
Should get the dog to the vet.
Should catch up on those emails!
We should ourselves into biting off way too much of the proverbial chore pie and usually end up cranky, irritable and tired; hungry for an hour of …nothing. And unfortunately our children and significant others sometimes bare the brunt of our good intentions.

With the shift into the Fall routine in our house, I claim Sunday afternoons. The morning is spent first with a later rise than usual, followed by time with the Grand Prince and a special breakfast of some sort. Fried dough brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. My doctor doesn’t read this blog so I toss cholesterol concerns to the wind. Next, we sort out the Sunday paper. Comics to the GP. Front page and sports to the Spouse and I begin with the North Weekly section. As the pre game hour of Sunday football begins around noon, my darling of a husband takes to the kitchen and simmers, roasts, bakes and stews the most delectable comfort foods to be enjoyed for supper that evening; all done in between quarters and during half time of the game. He cooks and cusses at Brady (always out of earshot of course) and does the male bonding thing of football fundamentals with the GP.

Meanwhile, I blissfully write, read, nap, email, play Rise of Atlantis (my current computer game obsession. Hey, I’m on Journey 7!) listen to music or whatever strikes my fancy. Now many would argue this isn’t real me time, however I beg to differ. Yes, I could go out for a walk, or a bike ride, or shopping, or visit a friend, or get a pedicure and on occasion I do some of those things. But if me time becomes stressful due to the very definition of it, then it’s no longer ME time. See? Makes perfect sense.
I’ve learned not to overextend me time into a frenetic foray of events that only serves to exhaust me more and leave me feeling like I should relax.

The Grand Prince is learning this important lesson too. When I asked him recently about signing up for fall soccer, rationalizing we could fit it in on Saturdays since karate and tennis were after school activities, he paused and looked at me very thoughtfully and said, “Nan, I have enough things to go to all ready. I’m gonna skip soccer this year.”

Out of the mouths of babes.