Back to School Blues

My house over the summer was full of lazy days by the pool and relaxing vacations at the beach. I had children going to bed whenever they got tired or whenever they passed out from a sugar rush on the couch. They liked sleeping in as late as they wanted. They had friends over to play video games all afternoon in the basement, with a fridge full of high-fructose, corn syrupy soda. There were lots of sleepovers and little to no schedule. Cereal for dinner and ice cream for breakfast became a norm.

Labor Day Weekend by the Pool 

On the flip side, I did notice that about 8 weeks into our 10 week break, anarchy began to reign. My children got a little sassier, a little more argumentative, and they forgot that I was still the authority figure in the house. They really weren't getting told what to do during the day from anyone besides me. And honestly, I was just as tired from a busy year as everyone else and going lax on the schedule was a wonderful break.

My house had turned into a sort of "Lord of the Flies" scenario. The kids began to make up their own rules by governing themselves and were considering how to overthrow the one person who was trying to maintain some semblance of authority and control. It was time for them to go back to school but I was not looking forward to getting back to the business of real life.

I've got the back to school blues just as bad as my kids. And although they were making me a little crazy, I've replaced that insanity for a different kind.

1. Homework folders - God Bless Us All! I hate homework, I hate homework folders and I don't understand why I have to remember to sign his homework folder every single day when obviously his homework is done.

T - Did you sign my homework folder?
Me - No, why do I need to sign your homework folder. I saw you doing your homework.
T - Because my teacher says you have to sign my folder everyday with your name.
Me - But if you're homework is finished and in your folder then why do I have to sign it? Isn't the proof that you did your homework uhhmm in the fact that you did your homework?
T - I don't know Mom just sign the stupid thing.

2. Volunteer Forms - From PTA to the booster club, classroom helpers, testing proctors, and teacher appreciation lunches. My kids in both preschool and big school need volunteers all the time. I can't think of anything I would like to do less than sit in a classroom for 3 hours at a time and watch some kids take a standardized test. Do people actually volunteer to do this? Why? I'll tell you why, because they are better people than me. 

I do help volunteer with some things but it's usually a shortened project that I can do once or twice a year and move on. I help at the preschool more than at the big kid school simply because I knew them first, they are a smaller school, and they don't have as many volunteers. My oldest asks me, "Mom why don't you come and help in my classroom every week like blah-blah's mom?" I reply, "Because I am at home working for no pay taking care of your younger siblings." "Oh, yeah. I'll tell my teacher that."

3. After-school sports - This one is my fault because I voluntarily signed them up for sports. I don't have to sign them up to do anything extra and I know this, but the kid really wanted to play football and he really enjoys being on the team. I don't have some pipe dream that he's going pro at age 22. He just enjoys being a part of the team mostly because he likes to hit people, he looks cool at the pep rally, and he feels pretty swag when he gets to wear his game jersey to school the day before game day. 

Football has been a much bigger commitment than other sports programs so the days that he has football practice he has less than three hours from the time he gets home from school until practice. So he eats like 3,0000 calories because he is a boy who is always hungry and he obviously doesn't eat enough at school (more on that later). Meanwhile, Homework Tyrant Mom stands over him to please finish his homework before practice. As soon as dad walks in the door one of us has to decide who is going to take him to practice to spend 2 or more hours at the field. Of course he is starving after practice because he just burnt off all the calories he consumed before we left the house. So we grab a second dinner on the way home, he goes straight to the shower, and to bed. In the summer we ban organized sports, therefore, we have no practice. The rest of the year, not so much. 

4. School Night Bedtime - This is probably one of the things I most despise about a new school year. It's why I live for Friday and Saturday nights. In the summer I typically don't worry too much about when my kids get in bed because they can sleep as late as they want the next day. I mean they only need to get up so they can spend the rest of the day swimming, playing in the neighborhood, or binging on YouTube channels. 

But the Sunday night before school started I could feel the dread in the pit of my stomach. For the next 180 school days I have to make them get in bed at least by 9 pm so they don't turn into the Walking Dead the next day. I don't like being the Bedtime Tyrant anymore than the Homework Tyrant. I still cannot figure out why it takes them 96 minutes to take a shower, put on their pajamas, brush their teeth and get in bed. And 4 out of 5 nights they forgot that I asked them to brush their teeth. I. Can. Not. Deal. You people have been brushing your teeth before bed every single night of your life. How can you not remember? 

5. Lunches - Because I obviously have raised one of the pickiest eaters on the planet Earth (I blame his father for this one) and he can only handle eating a balanced, hot, school lunch 3 out of 25 days per month. I say, "Look they're having cheese pizza tomorrow at school." He replies, "I don't like the school pizza because it's square and not round and it gives me a headache." 

I pack a lot of lunches at home and I never have the right food to make it look like I'm packing a remotely healthy lunch. I try my best to give him a carb, a protein, a dairy, and a fruit everyday. A few years ago I would make the nicest little sandwiches cut into the shapes of dinosaurs or an X-wing fighter. They would come back home picked over and virtually uneaten. So would the cute turkey rollups with toothpicks, and the fruits and vegetables arranged to look like a zoo animal. I'm telling you, I've tried. So these days his lunchbox ends up with a sleeve of Ritz, some grapes, yogurt, and a snack cake. Don't judge. I've tried to have him and his dad pack his own lunch. It was awesome. He ended up with a couple bags of chips, chocolate pudding, leftover cotton candy from the fair, and a Dr. Pepper. I've taken back over lunch duties. 

The times that I insist he eat lunch at school because I have nothing to pack for him, he eats a popsicle from the cafeteria. I really despise having to pack lunches. I'll keep worrying about lunches for him until he finishes elementary school, but then he's on his own in middle school and if he's hungry enough, he'll learn to try new food. Thankfully #2 and #3 are more balanced eaters and will save me the headache of trying to figure out what the world to put in the lunchbox. Save your Bento Box, gluten-free, carb-free, additive-free Pinterest lunches. It ain't happening here. 

We're rolling into Labor Day this weekend and we're enjoying the last little respite of summer vacay before we have to tackle school again next week. It's a slow process, it takes months for us to re-adjust, but soon enough the new norm is here and they've fallen back into school day (and night) patterns. I figure we'll be good to go around Christmas. Just in time for a long holiday break! 

First Day Back to School 


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