I love Back to School season. For me and many moms of school aged or even preschool kids, it is my Happy New Year. This is when I make my real resolutions to get my schedule in order, my house in order, my eating and meal planning cleaned up. I exercise regularly and pay more attention to my spiritual growth. I make plans to spend time with friends, and work on my professional development even if I am not being paid for my services. My kids also are ready to get back to school, sports, friends, and even a bit of learning while I take care of the mundane parts of running our household, work on projects that bring me joy, and take some time for myself. The best part of the day is still when they come home and tell me everything that happened while they were away.
This year, we were especially ready for Back to School. I mean that was a really, really long Spring Break. Our school worked hard since March on a plan and safe procedures for in-person learning. We had been following appropriate precautions so that our children would be safe and healthy at school, but not all families had done the same so after the first half day of orientation, our upper school switched to two weeks of distance learning. The hope is that the students can return to in-person learning after Labor Day. The biggest lesson learned since the beginning of the pandemic is how to quickly pivot.
Although we are disappointed, we have continued with our Back to School traditions with changes for the current times. We shopped for school supplies for ourselves, and plenty to donate to others. Only this year, we did it online. We packed up necessary supplies in their backpacks for school: folder, notebooks, paper, pens, laptops, phone chargers, as well as hand sanitizer, a ziplock bag of extra masks and one of disinfecting wipes. Uniforms were ordered and washed and hung up. For now, they only must wear the tops so we will save on wear and tear on the bottoms and their tennis shoes. We planned our “school” lunches, and family dinners since these will all be at home … oh, how I miss their school cafeteria.
The night before the first day, we shared a special family meal, and I made us all breakfast before the first classes began. On the half days, we took pictures in front of the same tree in the front yard that we have taken our First Day of School pictures since kindergarten. We forgot our “First Day of Junior Year” signs, and they weren’t in uniform so we are going to have retakes because over the years, we’ve also learned to be flexible.
In the past, I would have been so unhappy that it did not all work out perfectly, but now I know it is the memories, not the photos, that are important.
Regardless of the challenges, this year’s Back to School will still be my Happy New Year. I resolve to continue to have a positive outlook. I will greet each additional day that my children are home in distance learning as another opportunity for me to model gratitude, patience, grace and resiliency during this uneasy time. My children will see me taking time for my physical and mental well being as I exercise, eat food that fuels my body, read books for fun, read my Bible, reduce my media consumption, play, and rest. I also resolve to focus more on their well being this school year than their achievement. I have been guilty in the past of focusing on fixing my kids so much that I fail at times to thoroughly enjoy them. To that end, we will return to eating our meals at our dining table after we got into a terrible habit of eating watching television together. We will have more family games of cards and movies by the pool. Of course, I also plan to clean out piles of junk. I have scheduled doctor’s appointments – yes I’m in perimenopause and that’s just grand, and finally an optometrist appointment – hello, trifocals. We also have a long-awaited upgrade to our main living space that I cannot wait to share with you all.
The Back to School may not be what we planned for, wished for, or prayed for, but it’s the one we have, and it’s up to us to choose to make it the best Back to School we can for our children and for ourselves.
Linda Kennedy M.S. – TLC’s Dallas Fort Worth area Associate, is the mother of 16 year old twins, Shane and Savannah, and wife of 25 years to Shane, a physician. A former high school and college level science teacher with a masters in Biology, Linda is a busy stay at home mom and community volunteer. After nearly ten years of marriage, Linda and Shane welcomed their twins following IVF and a high risk pregnancy that ended on bedrest and an early delivery at 31 weeks and long NICU stay. A long time member of FWMoM, Linda has served in many capacities including as Programs director and President, where she developed a program and curriculum for expectant moms of multiples and parenting infants and toddlers. This came out of her own experience, and what she learned from the other moms in the FWMoM community. Her favorite thing to tell expectant parents is find your multiples parents group, to help you figure out how to care for multiple babies at once because you are going to be too tired at first to figure it all out. She continues to be an active supporter of moms of multiples finding their own parenting style, becoming confident making choices for their children that bring joy and wellbeing to themselves and their family. You can reach Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our Dallas Fort Worth services.