Friday, September 18, 2009

The World of Barely Getting’ By

A few moms have posted about starting the school year and how you go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye. New to the “Kids in School” group, Alex at New England Mamas called it “Beginning of the School Year Fatigue” in a recent post, asking advice from seasoned moms.

I call it “The World of Barely Getting’ By”, and I don’t got much. Like everyone else, I’m hanging on by a thread. The only way I manage my Daily Grind is to make lists of EVERYTHING, clutch my calendar close to my chest, and be the mom that is very awake and productive at 11:42 p.m. – but I can’t function in the mornings anyway, so the late nights are a must.

Working mostly in academic offices my whole adult life means I’ve been living the school year cycle since kindergarten (DON’T start counting the years!!!), so it wasn’t as much of a shock when my kids started school. I can tell you it does take planning and organization to stay ahead of the rolling boulder, the constant pressure many of us feel because, truly, if you don’t sign and return those 27 forms by 9:01 on the second morning of school, you will be marked as The Worst Parent the Teacher Has Ever Experienced.

It doesn’t help that the schools do not ease you into the cycle. You’re slammed on the first day with a mountain of forms, calendars, and requests for info the government doesn’t even know about you! Add into the mix sports, curriculum nights (no kids allowed, of course), fall fairs, and game schedules, and you’re talking bring-you-to-your-knees-make-your-head-spin stress.

My hints? Besides “pack/prepare/do EVERYTHING you can the night before” and “use the Crockpot”, these are a few tried-and-true ones I have come to live by. They may not help, but I’ve never been told they’ve hurt!

The forms? If the schools have any forms in common, fill one out, leaving out the child-specific info like DOB, make copies, then fill in the rest. Saves tons of writing!

When pulling school supplies together, make two folders for each kid: one for corrected schoolwork (in case you’ve got a teacher who can’t remember your kid DID turn in those three major papers), and one for all the forms, handbooks, and other items. Mine get bulky because I don’t clean them out until the end of the year, but they have saved the day on a few occasions!

Carry a calendar, paper or electronic, keep it updated, and write EVERYTHING on it – appointments, birthdays, things to buy, to-do lists. Once a week (I do it Sundays), copy the appointments and important dates to a big family calendar somewhere in your house where those other people who live with you can see it. Don’t get me wrong - they’ll still ask you, but after 10,000 “don’t ask me, look at the calendar” responses, mine look like they’re starting to get it.

Don’t constantly feel like you need to be doing! If you find you’ve got an afternoon where both kids are in school or at practice, make it YOUR time. Take a walk, read a book, or go for a cup of coffee with another mom – do something that recharges your batteries! I didn’t learn this one until recently, and it helps keep things in perspective. Even staying at a practice talking to other moms helps!

Brace yourself - the rest of the year will be like a rollercoaster ride. The ride starts out fast in September with back-to-school, lulls in October, and then picks up speed through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and onto through Christmas and New Year’s. Winter seems to even things out, then it picks up speed in the spring, rushes through May into June when school lets out, and then there’s a month or two to catch your breath before it all starts up again!

Did I mention I hate rollercoasters?

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