Tag: going back to school

School started this past week here in Austin. It always feels so abrupt, that transition from summer to school. For three months there are basically no bedtimes, lots of cousins, time with Grandma, swimming, canoeing, lazy afternoons reading and napping and lounging about, and morning after morning spent sleeping in.

Then BAM! School starts back with lunches and homework and early mornings and strict bedtimes and lots of things that just have to be done, right away or at least on a pretty tight schedule. Not that it’s bad, just that it’s different. and by different I mean kind of bad in that it hits us with  a real wallop. ESPECIALLY if we are not prepared.

Which this year, I gotta say, even with 4 kids getting out the door to 3 different schools, we all felt pretty prepared. We had figured out bus schedules and school supplies and lunch boxes and wake up times. We had found scissors and binders and mechanical pencils from last year.  And had even thrown the backpacks in the washer for a fresh clean start to this brand new academic season.

And the other thing I did? I took myown advice from my very own book and I set my alarm for 10 minute earlier than I had set it last year.  I also vowed to myself that I would not hit the snooze. And that I would wake the kids up a few minutes earlier too. Because really, though it SEEMS like the snooze will give me what I want, and though I am not naturally a  morning person, not by any stretch of the imagination, unless I can snooze for another hour, it doesn’t do anything but prolong the agony.

But this ten minutes of extra awake time? It gives me the world. It gives me time to put my coffee on and get dressed and even take a few sips of that coffee paired with a nice deep breath. It gives us all space  – around getting that signature we forgot  last night or finding that shoe that’s got to be around here somewhere or changing the stained shirt or just sitting for a minute while someone picks at the typewriter, without me freaking out that WE NEED TO KEEP IT MOVING OR WE”RE GONNA BE LATE!!!

It’s rather amazing really, the chilled-out-ness that the extra 10 minutes is giving us all. Not to exaggerate or over-emphasize,  but truly? With this extra 10 minutes in the morning, we’re  happier, easier, and surely healthier too, because that feeling of panic that comes from  rushing, whether we feel it in our heads or our bellies or  in our throats as we’re yelling to get a move on, that feeling cannot be good for us.

I know we’re only in week one of school, and I have been known to wane on resolutions in the past, but I think this one’s a keeper. And  I am going on record here as saying that that extra ten minutes is a total game changer at our house. Not that we’re all walking out the door singing Kumbaya or anything, but we might. We just might.

My children love it when I sing.



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The author’s first day of kindergarten. c. 1970

Here we go. The big kick off. For the kids it is the end of  lazy days and sleeping in and endless time with friends and elongated road trips and boredom and movies galore and midnight bedtimes (or later) and long stretches of time to read and draw and having it be possible to be invited over to someone’s house at 8:00 at night and the answer being yes, we can go.

It’s back to school time and it crescendo’ed today with Meet the Teacher day and school supplies delivered and classrooms found and the new playground unveiled. The monthly bus pass has been purchased for the oldest. The trumpet was found on Craigslist for the next. The desired teacher was gotten for the third and the new playground was enough to convince the youngest that everything would be okay.

This year is a biggie for us. We’ll have three different schools and schedules. And growing kids who don’t necessarily need our help  but might sometimes want it anyway.

It’s going to take some real good communication and intentions and calendar checks and coordinating and did I say communication? to keep it all cool, calm, collected and connected.

So here, in no particular order are eleven things I’m going to try to do this year to make sure we all get what we need from the world and from each other too…

1. Stay present to the ones I’m with.  This is a biggie. Love the one I’m with. Phone down, tasks paused, eyes on the prize and in this case, the prize being the person who is standing in front of me.

2. Stay present to the task at hand. Driving? Drive. Cooking? Cook. Writing? Write. Socializing? Socialize. Playing? Play. You get the point.

3. Screen-free times. In the house for the whole family, we will have set hours that are screen-free. I’m thinking 5-7 should work. With a 6:00 exemption for homework reasons. No phones, tv, computer, etc. Screen-free.  We did it last year and it was really great. We got off that bandwagon this summer though.

4. Electronics-free alone time. Walk. Meditation. Swim. Read. Etc. Be alone. Truly alone. Not alone but with virtual friends. Not alone but talking on the phone. Alone. Truly alone. With my own thoughts and ideas. Everyday at least.

5. Listen more. Fix less. My tendency has been to rush in with answers. My goal with my growing children is to listen more and let them work most of it out through talking it out. And I’ll be more likely to sense the real need as opposed to just the words that are stated.

6. Ask before I do offer advice. Not just to my kids but to people in general. Before I offer advice I’ll ask if it’s wanted. “Want my input?” It’s a simple question that will take some practice to make a part of my day-to-day.

7. Pre-planned playdates. Sure there will be after school playdates but they will be planned ahead of time. The on-the-fly playdates tweak me and tweak the balance of the household. Exceptions only in emergencies. With this will also be minimized sleep-overs. Sleep-overs tweak the kids and tweak the family more. The next day we usually all pay. Planned ahead and minimized.

8. Dates with my husband. These should be easier to come by this year. Daytime dates are fun. (editor’s note: this one’s no longer valid but I left it in to remind me to connect with him regularly. We are not a couple but we are still parents of these kids of ours.)

9. Alone time once a month with each child. This is sometimes tricky to accomplish but I think setting it up ahead of time will be the key. On the calendar it goes. It doesn’t need to be huge – just intentional. A walk, a trip to the grocery store for a light shop, a croissant at the bakery, a visit to the playground.

10. One night out each week with friends. A designated night. Each week. And if friends can’t make it, then on my own. Just to collect my adult thoughts, share ideas, get inspired and have some fun.

11. Be thoughtful about my commitments. I have a lot of good ideas for things to do in the community. But I can’t do them all. Instead this year I plan on handing out those good ideas freely to anyone who is looking for one. And sometimes even just floating them out there to the universe for people to grab who didn’t even know they were looking for a good idea.

It’s funny when my kids were little and playing with friends I would always tell them, “I’m not base!!” as they tagged me furiously in attempts to be safe from “it”. But really now I am base.  Especially now.




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