The kiddos have been back in school for a week, maybe two or three, and so far you are killing it mom-wise. You’ve got your act totally together, and all systems are running smooth as buttah! You are a ‘night before packing, clothes laying out, shoes by the door, on time, dinner planning, lunch prepping, hot breakfast cooking, reading 20 minutes before bed every night’ school mom ninja right now. You are up before dawn, skipping through the house like Mary Poppins on Red Bull. What you are now achieving before 7AM would make a West Point cadet shiver. You have set up homework stations, backpack stations, and sports equipment stations. If you are homeschooling, your curriculum calendar is a color coded, expertly sequentialized, portfolio freaking masterpiece of educational pedagogy perfection. Rejoice moms! It is early fall and our organizational badass cups runneth over!
Unfortunately, somewhere, somehow, and sometime soon it is gonna go to pot. Total crap. Our once highly functioning school systems will collapse quicker than a sleep derived new mom after two glasses of wine.
This hit me yesterday when I was packing my little guy’s lunches. They were food magazine cover worthy, nutritionally balanced, damn pieces of Bento art. Why then, somewhere around late April, am I scouring through cupboards looking for anything that resembles food and begrudgingly stuffing it into lunch boxes? How do school routines go from happy to hellacious?
Stuff happens. Life happens. And then we hit the wall hard, collectively falling off the high achieving school mom wagon. Here are the four reasons we become slacker moms:
1. After school activities, and sports practices. Right now, you are in the honeymoon period of the school year. All of the fun, with none of the work. Sports leagues may not have started, your kids may not have had any homework, and after school clubs and activities have yet to take over your calendar. But when they do, watch out, because your lazy afternoons and family dinners together are out the window. Bedtimes get later, patience grows thinner, and well meaning efforts to prepare for the following school day are all but lost when you find yourself passed out on the couch at 9:15. We’ve all read that kids should not become over-scheduled, that they should enjoy free play every afternoon, and we should all strive to live more simple daily lives. I hear ya, and in a non-competitive dream world that would work. But here’s the thing, I have teenagers, and I have seen college applications, scholarship applications, and honor society applications. Guess what they all have in common? About three blank pages to write about all the teams you are a captain of, all the clubs you are the president of, all the hobbies you are an elite talent at, and all the non-profits you are the chairman of. And all this by roughly age 16. I would love to tell the colleges my sons are applying to that they are boys of great character, and everyday they helped their mom make dinner, do laundry, care for a home and younger siblings. Unfortunately, that’s not really gonna cut it. So for now we run around every afternoon like maniacs, playing this and that, attending meetings for this and that, volunteering here and there… and on and on and on. And our once perfectly planned out days turn very sour.
2. The Holidays. Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when our already tight schedules are invaded with cookie swaps, company Christmas parties, and obligatory family celebrations, we lose some school zest. Honest to goodness holiday fatigue sets in, and digs its teeth into our school routines. Kids start forgetting things, dinners get skipped, we accidentally sleep in, and we can’t catch our breath or catch up with our days. How is it the busiest time of year ends up being in, well, the busiest time of year? When we finally come out at the other end in early January, and jump back into the school year, we feel behind before we even start. That school alarm clock chirping has long since lost its turn on.
3. Sick kids. The only thing more detrimental to a great school routine than a sick kid, is two sick kids. Then another, and another, and then a sick parent. In early winter when cold and flu season slaps everyone in the face, and for weeks at a time at least one family member in the house is wearing their pajamas 24/7, school days and daily routines take a beating. We spend the short dark days of the new year shuffling around and barely hanging on to any type of school routine. We may even start to be thinking of warmer days and that most craved week of the year…..
4. Spring Break. Ahhhh…seven days, and a magical slice of sunshine landing at just the right time. After cold months and weeks and weeks without a single school day off, we finally catch a breather. And we get just a tiny but sweet taste of the outdoors, of staying up late and getting up even later, and of resting our minds and bodies. Which makes the period of time between spring break and the end of the school year the roughest time of all. We are treading water those last two months. We are no longer organized and ready for school mornings, we are never prepared for the evenings, and we are just begging for all of it to be OVER already because we are done!
Remember just a few months ago chanting ‘BRING ON SUMMER?” Yeah, me too. Then a few weeks ago we were all whining, “Is it time for them to go back to school yet?” Yep, I was. For now, this first month of fall, I still have my act together. Shoes are lined up at the door, and backpacks are organized nicely. Homework hasn’t been missed, and I’m still signing forms and slips happily and on time. I know what sports practice day it is, and I have all the proper equipment ready, and the pantry and fridge are well stocked.
I give myself to around early February before it all goes bad, and I inevitably send a kid to school with breath mints for lunch, the wrong uniform on, a very overdue permission slip, and late homework. Then we will have cereal for dinner, and I will totally forget to pick up a kid from a sports practice, we will all be wearing dirty clothes, we will have lost one backpack, three lunch boxes, four school books, and a set of golf clubs. (Seriously, how do you misplace golf clubs? ) At some point I will lose my purse, my phone, my sanity, and my patience. Finally, there will be that school morning, where by the time we get to drop off, everyone in the car will be crying, including me.
How many days until summer?
Related post: The Extra-Curricular Crackdown