3 min read

Are you ready?

Musings as we head back to school after a pandemic.
Are you ready?

Heck no! Not at all!

Surrounded by my kids

I was chatting with another mom today, and she asked me if I was ready for the beginning of the school year. My response? “Heck no!”

She laughed, but I think she could empathize.

The last week of summer vacation has snuck up on me this year. Last year with the pandemic, we didn’t have to do a whole lot of planning. We knew the kids would be starting the school year from home, and since we weren’t going out in public, we didn’t need the usual back-to-school wardrobe and school supplies. Being a former teacher and having four children, there is a pretty good chance I have all the school supplies we need.

When the kids were younger, I scheduled a day towards the end of summer to go out and buy new school shoes, a couple of new outfits, and pick up the few school supplies we needed like lunchboxes, pencils, pencil cases, and a binder.

This year, I blinked, and the calendar showed me that we have back-to-school orientation and a meet and greet with the elementary schools this week! To say I am overwhelmed and anxious is an understatement.

I double-checked with the kids, and their shoes still fit when I had to buy shoes last spring. I have scheduled family pictures, and those outfits will easily be the kids' first day of school outfits. My oldest daughter and I swung by Target and picked up school supplies. Both the big kids said they do not need much because we all figure that they will do most of their work on their school-distributed chrome books.

But still, I feel that back-to-school anxiety creeping up. Not only do we have to factor in the usual back-to-school melee, but also masking rules, making sure everyone has their own mini bottle of hand sanitizer and FOUR kids at FOUR different schools!

Last year we had four in four, but it was way more manageable because everyone was learning from home. Last spring, we had a little taste of what it would be like when they went back to school in person every other week. But this year, it’s on! Like full on! Everybody is at school at the same time. 5am to 9am will be a whirlwind of activity as we make lunches, eat breakfast, and each kid makes their way to the bus stop in the morning.

Three of my kids wake up easily. But I have one night owl who is just not a morning person at all. So he slows us all down. But we’ll make it work. But added to our usual chaos will be all the different after-school activities. I can easily say no, but after a year in a pandemic and constantly saying no, I have a more challenging time doing it now, because I'm afraid we will have to lock it all done come October. So I want to say yes to all the things. Do you feel like that? Just me? Okay.

But something that the pandemic taught me? Pivot! Be flexible! And know what matters. For me, it’s family. So I am soaking up this last week before the school year starts. We’re going to the pool, scheduling pool dates, watching late-night television with the big kids.

I joke I must have been a border collie in a former life. I like having all my people where I can see them. I really enjoy having my kids home, but I also know how important it is for them to have socialization, a sense of routine, to move around, and be active.

It will be okay, and things will work out. They always do. So as I sit in my minivan working while my son is at cross country practice, I reflect on this last week before the kids start back at school. I’m going to take a deep breath and keep moving forward.

How are you doing with the back-to-school grind? Have you started yet? Are you looking forward to a year of set routines? What does the coming year look like for you?