I love the beginning of things.
I love the thinking and planning and dreaming of how great everything will be. For me, the return to school is the ultimate beginning, it marks the renewal of the hopes and dreams I have for my kids and for me.
This year will be different at my house since three of my four kids will be away at law school and college and college which means…I have one left at home. My 13-year-old daughter gets to be the complete focus of all my motherly hopes, dreams, and attention. She is nervous about all of this attention, but I think we can manage. I’ve got some great resolutions all ready to go.
Don’t over commit
Right now in my glow of summer rejuvenation, I believe all things can be accomplished. I also know how much it means for my daughter to be able to relax and do nothing. To keep us from over committing, I have to picture my February self – exhausted, irritated, and hanging on for Spring Break. February self knows where to draw the line. August self is too rested and ambitious for my own good.
One back to school resolution I know I struggle with is listening – the kind of listening that doesn’t leap to a solution or a judgment. I find that difficult. When my kids tell me things, I start thinking about what they should be learning from the experience. I don’t want to let a teachable moment or a life lesson to go by unused.
Not surprisingly, my daughter hates that. She has always been a sharer, but lately, I’ve seen her clam up and quit talking when I’ve gone into lecture mode, and I really, really want to break myself of that habit this school year. It’s going to be difficult. She’s 13, and social media, and hormones…it’s going to be difficult. But, I want to succeed. I want to be the kind of mom listener that encourages sharing. I know it will be important for her to have me be a safe place to land in these upcoming years.
Keep homework in perspective
I learned this summer that 8th grade is not too early for worries about college admissions to strike, and if it’s striking in the summer, I know the school year will be worse. My daughter goes to an awesome independent school (full disclosure: I work there!) that offers an excellent education and opens opportunities to attend and excel at our nation's best colleges, but with that comes driven, high-achieving classmates. That kind of emotionally charged environment can be a bit much for a bright 13-year-old who wants to make her parents happy.
We love Gilmore Girls, and our short hand for someone who is going too crazy about academics is “Paris”. If someone’s going “all Paris”, that means they’ve lost perspective…of course Paris did go to Yale and then Harvard Medical School…
With three kids away at school, dinner time will be lonelier, but it still matters. It matters for all the reasons the experts give, but also because it’s fun. My daughter tells good stories – and now she can tell them without being interrupted.
Time management and organization
I hate being a nag, but I also hate watching my daughter forget basically everything. So, we are trying checklists this year for basically everything… I’ll let you all know how that works out! To begin, The Weekend Checklist does work for us.
Good luck to you all with your back to school resolutions. I’d love to know what you all have resolved to do to make this a wonderful school year. Please share in the comments!
Maureen Paschal is a freelance writer, a teacher-librarian, and a mom of four almost grown kids. She blogs at Raising The Capable Student where her goal is helping parents to keep family life a priority and school success in perspective. Her work has been featured in On Parenting from the Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Perfection Pending, and Today Parents.