The first day of school, September 5, is circled on my calendar in big red marker, as it is every year. You’d think, after 10 years of doing this, I’d have the start of the school year down pat, but it’s always the same thing, every. Single. Year.
Before we even flip the calendar to September, that month’s squares are filled with activities. The back-to-school potluck dinners? They’re on there. The meet-the-teachers nights? Marked in big blue letters. The first baseball practice of the season? Starred, with a baseball sticker thrown on there for extra measure. Even the Fall festival, which doesn’t take place until October, is marked in big letters.
The school supplies are purchased, divvied between the kids, packed, and ready to go weeks in advance (thanks to Target and Staples for having their back-to-school sales in the middle of the Summer!). And the new lunch boxes and water bottles are even sanitized and waiting to be placed in the shiny new backpacks.
So what’s missing from all of my start of the school year prep? Me.
Regardless of how prepared I make my kids, I always underestimate how much of my time the start of the school year demands. I forget that homework on the first night of school is actually for me, and it usually entails several hours of filling out forms, writing checks for classroom supplies, and trying to find a recent printed photo of my child (which every year has me running to the drugstore photo center). With two kids in two different schools, there are two curriculum nights to attend, which means high-tailing it out of work early on two different days in order to make it to the schools in time to meet the teachers. There are two start-of-year PTA meetings to attend — always scheduled for immediately after drop-off — to learn about the schools’ priorities for the year. And the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, I value the flexibility in my job that allows me to attend these events, but I’m always shocked by just how much running around the start of the school year entails. After the long, lazy days that close out Summer, the school year kicks off full throttle, and I always forget to figure that into our schedules. Without fail, but the end of the first week of school, I’m begging everyone for a quiet afternoon at home where we can all just relax for a bit.
So this year I’m approaching things a bit differently. I’m looking at the September calendar and I’m blocking off some time for us to reconvene as a family and just relax. Sure, it’s odd to actually schedule downtime when I’m overwhelmed by how robust the calendar is already, but if we stick to our schedule, I know we will feel some relief, and I can already taste its sweetness.