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Challenge: It's Back to School: Share Your Advice

Sleep in, throw water balloons, eat ice cream: The ultimate back-to-school to-do list

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Some of my friends' children are already in school, their bright and shiny faces posing with memorable first-day-of-school signs. I have seen the posts from parents who are excited for school to start so they can get back on track. As a working mom, I get it. There's no question that it's easier to get things done when the kids are on a predictable schedule (with bus service!).

Here, we have a few days left of summer, and the air feels ... well, it's hot, of course, because it's Texas. And underneath the heat that will stretch on to October, the swirling atmosphere of pencils, papers, and books is picking up energy.


I don't feel ready for it to sweep us into fall.

We have not bought a new backpack – last year's works just fine. We haven't gone to the mall for clothes shopping; he has plenty of clothes that fit (for now). We have done no school shopping, which is thanks in part to the fact that my son's school offers back-to-school supply packets for all of the kids to pre-purchase. It's brilliant, actually, so thanks to whomever came up with this idea.


I admit, it's easy for me to be casual about the return to school with an only child. We just returned from our annual stay with my family in my hometown in Indiana, where we spent hours on the road, driving across the Midwest. We landed at beaches in Michigan where my son could dig a hole up to his waist in the sand, we ate ice cream at every stop, and enjoyed priceless, quality time with my parents, my sister and her family, and friends from as far back as kindergarten. We're still unpacking, honestly. My heart is still there, immersed in memories.

It's impossible to keep the new school from starting, or for time to stop marching on, faster and faster and faster as I watch my son grow. It was a startling awakening this morning when I dropped a vase on the kitchen floor and stepped into my son’s flip-flops to protect my feet from broken glass; they fit me.


In some ways, maybe it feels to me that if I embrace the next chapter, I'm hastening it to my door. And I don't want to speed the year along any more than it does.

Instead of early bedtimes and cursive practice or math facts, I'm opting to squeeze every last moment from this amazing summer. You don't have to tell me that at almost 9, we are at the halfway point for our summers with our son at home. For a few more years, perhaps, he'll want to still play with us, snuggle with us, and spend time with us above everyone else.

You'll find us at the local ice cream shop down the street. Or maybe we’re jumping in the lake. Walking to the park. Sleeping in, when we can. Throwing water balloons.

And when Wednesday arrives, I’ll paste a smile on my face and brace myself for the beginning of the next hill of this roller coaster. We’ll take pictures and commemorate the kickoff of another sprint through the school year. He’ll be excited to see his friends, maybe a little nervous, and as he walks away from me and into his classroom, I’ll probably be thinking about how much I loved this summer, and pray for another one just like it next year.

"Oh, when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life."

- Singer Bryan Adams, "Summer of '69"


Kristin Shaw is a writer based in Austin, Texas. For more of her writing, you can find her at for her essays and for stories about positive, uplifting stories within the automotive industry. Her essay and video "I can still pick him up, so I do" has been seen by millions of viewers on the TODAY Parents platform.

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