Deep Breath

Okay, it’s ON. Back-to-school time is ON. There are forms and letters and lists and apparently a Singapore math workbook that I thought was optional and I learned yesterday is not.

You can feel it ramping up—the silly, slow, lazy, days of summer are over and it’s time for business. We start next week, but every day when I scroll through Instagram there are a few more first-day-of-school photos from friends around the country.

The feeling–the pressure–is in the air. We had a playdate this morning with two of my best friends. All three of us are working moms of little ones—one is librarian at an elementary school and the other is a dean at a university.

The kids ran in the sprinkler and splashed in the pool. We—the moms—were quieter than usual, a little stuck in our heads, scrolling through the massive amount of things to be done before school starts.

We chatted and played with the kids, but every time we picked up our phones to check what time it was or take a quick picture, we peeked at our emails, and then we were gone, absorbed in schedules and plans and meeting agendas, back-to-school to do lists and things to buy and organize and manage.

I’m going to tell you right now: this is not the part of parenting where I shine. I’m really good at car-dancing to Macklemore and snuggling and going to the beach. I’m not fantastic at all the lists and routines and workbooks and forms.

I’m going to tell you right now we’re going to miss some things along the way. Well, frankly, we already missed the Singapore math workbook thing. Yikes.

But we’ll be all right. Deep breath, moms and dads.

Let’s not let the pressure we feel to do it all perfectly stand in the way our ability to be present. Let’s do our level best to get everything done and every form signed. But through it all—and this is the most important part—let’s work hard to stay loving and soft-hearted and silly with these little people that are at the center of the whole back-to-school swirl.

Let’s get the right scissors and new shoes, but let’s stop in the costume aisle along the way and put on hats and sing some silly songs. Let’s create space to laugh and play and tell stories even if we still haven’t located the all-important summer reading chart (true story).

If you feel a little daunted by the logistics of back-to-school, just know that you’re not alone. We’ll be all right, forms or not, lists completed or not. Deep breath, moms and dads. We’ll be fine.

15 thoughts on “Deep Breath

  1. As a teacher I can say we get equally overwhelmed. Also, we hate sending all those papers home and going through them when they cone back. All we want to do is love on the kids and get to the good stuff! Great parents aren’t the ones who sign every form; they are the ones who read with their kids at night and let their kids know that school is important, but being a good person is even better!

  2. I’m so glad you cardance. It’s so freeing! I cardance, too…and my teenage children wilt a little each time “Brickhouse” comes on the radio.

    Also, you looked super-fabulous at the Summit.

  3. I feel your pain with the Singapore math. My soon-to-be 2nd grader is working on some as I type this. Not sure what’s worse that or the massive packet of Chinese handwriting that was sent home over the summer that we waited until now to get started on. I want to let my kids play and be free this last week before school–it’s hard to switch gears. You’re definitely not alone! This was a fret reminder to me.

  4. Aw, you’ll get it all together, but summer is the BEST time (I’m a teacher and this is my last day of summer! Weep! Weep!)
    I hope your kids have sweet and smart teachers and a fantastic year!

  5. Thank you for this reminder Shauna. My kids started school today and I’m definitely feeling the back to school anxiety and pressure. I’m having insecurities about not being cut out for this and trying to muster the strength to get out of the long, lazy, relaxing days of summer mode and back into business mode. Thank you for your encouragement and reminder to keep being fun, silly and most of all present. It is really good to know other mothers feel the same way.

  6. I go back to work tomorrow(I’m a teachers aid) and I am not ready either!

    It’s a brand new job and I am nervous as nervous can be! The paperwork, the first impressions, not being late, getting to know my child and her parents, etc. It’s all piling up so quick and I don’t feel ready at all.

    Thanks for the reminder that we are all crazed now, and to stay in the moment. Lord knows I’m going to try my best!

  7. Let me tell you that as a teacher (high school) I feel the pressure big time. It isn’t just a parent thing, though I have no doubt that parenting a child in school can be overwhelming and crazy. For me, the hard thing is that I am asked to do more and more at my school. I’m held accountable for things I truly have limited, if any, control over, and it all gets a bit nuts. It can feel crushing. If you feel like you have a hard time keeping up, managing it all, balancing a hectic schedule with the need for play and rest, you’re in good company (or perhaps, I’m in good company.) :-). I have some strategies I’m going to work at to keep myself sane – like taking walks on the trail near our home, reading books I enjoy, and working out. And then, of course, the larger goal of transitioning from one career to the next. But all that to say – school can be nuts, whether you are a parent or a teacher (or both). Simplicity is highly underrated in our current system. I’m not a elementary school teacher, so my advice won’t be as relevant perhaps as elementary teachers. But I hope that my kids that I teach have someone that has read to them, has helped them to develop a sense of curiosity about life, people, learning, culture, and many other things. If a parent can do that, then I think a child is going to do well in high school. So math books aside, curiosity, reading, learning to love learning – those are the attributes (among a few others) that are essential and worth contemplating and acting on. (And hooray for unsolicited advice… as if parents needed more to think about before school approaches. )

  8. I’m over that part my kids are in college so the only list I have is the one to write a check to the Bursar ‘s office. Have fun getting ready for school.

  9. I can’t tell you how much I needed to come across this post tonight. I’m excited to let myself breathe – and concentrate on loving my kids. I’m in both boats, sending my oldest off to public school for the first time tomorrow, and continuing to homeschool my younger two sons. I get to be parent and teacher :) Thank you so much for your inspiring post – I’m going to go give my kids an extra kiss!

  10. So can relate to this — I find this time of year … Bittersweet :). I am as nervous as my kids I think getting everything in order and hoping all goes smoothly. Wishing you a peaceful start.

  11. Confession: There were days when I wished I had had tucked a self-inking stamp of my signature into each child’s stocking for Christmas. They could have kept it in their lockers for the times I forgot to sign the myriad of permission slips and weekly planners.

    We made it though. Our youngest of 5 starts her Senior year after Labor Day. We missed some signatures along the way….I think some of the kids forged our signatures a few times….but we also had the garage where everyone could find a costume for Spirit week and the big table where lots of kids did homework and ate tons of food. They played basketball in our backyard and gathered after football games for pizza. In the end we had more than 5 school pictures on the wall in our hallway because extra kids wanted to hang their pictures there too.

    So glad you are keeping it all in perspective!!! Love this post – Happy Happy school days to you and Henry!

  12. And we were off to the races today trying to get it as perfect as our big teacher hearts could manage for our sweeties. I had a melt down in my bathroom because it is the last getting ready for the first day of school I’ll ever have…retirement. I love the newness of fall. Now it is 4pm and I got home to a now quiet house, missing my own kids and their excitement. How am I relaxing…pulled Bread and Wine to re-read and decide what recipes I will make, and what stories I might read to my bookgroup next week. Thank you for your words Shauna. xo

  13. I just wanted to say thank you for your blogs. I find them so refreshing and am so inspired by your honesty. I am not a mother, but can relate to the idea of feeling “cut out” for some things but not other things. I think that as women, we face such pressure to be perfect in all areas of our life. Thank you for your honesty, and keep the blogs coming!

  14. Shauna, this is just what I needed to read right at this very moment. Thank you so much for putting into words the cloudy veil that drapes over me come fall. Really good at making pancakes at 10 a.m. on a Monday, less good at getting out the door, all glossy and ready to rock, at 7:30 a.m. every. single. day. Breathing deep with you, girl. Thanks for this!

  15. Ha! Have already missed the “early” turn in (oooooops, that was mandatory) for school pictures and missed the spirit wear order deadline. We are ok. We are all good here. We will pay a few extra dollars per picture; however breathing in and out and we are getting everything done! Love this post!

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