For the first time in many years, I do not have anyone at my house starting school however I can still remember all the things I used to resolve to do that made the beginning of the school year easier to face:
- Make 1 extra lunch every day – for you! How many parents work to prepare the tastiest, most appealing, healthy lunches? Does this work? After a summer of rushing out the door with nothing more than an apple or cheese, pull together 1 or 2 extra lunches so that you and your partner have something good to eat at midday. It will be a healthier option than anything you can pick up in the cafeteria at work or a fast food place and you will save a lot of cash.
- Drive people! Everywhere! This is the best way to catch up with your child about what is happening. Pick someone up right after school and the story of the entire day will be out of their mouths before they even think about what they’re saying. Something that often shuts down any conversation with a parent is the look of horror as they tell you who is selling drugs or drinking at school. That horrified look is not apparent as you drive because you are busy staring ahead at the road. Perfect!
- Text! Don’t phone! If you’re expecting to hear from someone when they need a lift or with details of after school activities, you’ll get much better responses from a text that can be treated discreetly than from the dreaded “Phone call from your Mom”. It’s possible that every parent knows this already but that’s not the impression I get in my office from the grimaces that appear when a cell phone rings.
- Get your own homework project. Most of us realize that it’s very effective to spend homework time with your young children to be both an encouragement and a resource, but how do you stick to that plan when you have so much to do? My solution is to get your own project, handwork, your journal, a novel you’ve been meaning to read and work on that project during homework time. You’ll accomplish something you never thought possible to complete, like knitting a pair of mittens or rereading Crime and Punishment. You can see that built into this suggestion is the possibility that you can provide additional support by reading, or rereading, what your child is reading. You can also become a bit of a pain with this so you’ll have to tread carefully with the latter half of this suggestion.
- Consider a family night or an open house with one night per month. At one point, for several years, there was one night at our house for which anyone’s friends could be invited for dinner. This included my friends as well. The meal was nothing fancy and could be easily extended for additional unexpected guests, or one extra teenage person. In general the best kind of food for a group that includes teenagers is lots of food.
Having been both bookish and the Teacher’s Pet when young, I look forward to the beginning of school. This morning, I will be eager to hear how my patients and their families are managing. I will remember coming home with a new speller – a book no one even knows about anymore – and covering my textbooks, another relic of a bygone time. Today, with summer hanging heavily in the air, I will begin a new year for, in fact, I have never given up the habit of understanding September to be the beginning of the year.