Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Charge to my Fellow Kinder-parents (and the rest of the grades too!)

You guys. If your social media feed is anything like mine, it's been BLOWING UP with first day of school pictures this week. It is that time of year again and for sure there is much pandemonium in all the land.

For many of you, it's your FIRST time sending a child off to elementary school and the thought totally terrifies you. For others of us, this isn't your first time through the back-to-school rodeo, but it never hurts to take a moment and recall what all this week entails. No matter how much we try to prepare ourselves for the days ahead, we are bound to experience a myriad of unwelcome emotions. So I have a charge for you. (And for me because I need it just as much as the rest of you!)

First off, LET GO OF THE GUILT. I'm positive there is something you are feeling guilty about right. It could be that you feel you didn't spend enough time with you sweet child over the summer. Or it could be guilt over your choice of schooling - should you have done private school? Will your child be ok in the real world? Or, as in my case, you may suddenly be overcome and paralyzed by the thought that maybe you should have kept your baby at home for just one more year. Well, I'm here to tell you, ALL THESE FEELINGS ARE NORMAL. And you are going to question every last stinking decision for the next while. Especially after your child comes home from school an absolute and utter mess EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR LIKE 3 MONTHS STRAIGHT (and trust me, they will). Yes, you will definitely begin to question whether you made a wrong choice. I mean, who wouldn't. So expect it, embrace it and do your best to resist feelings of guilt.

So when you are feeling super second-guessy, what I want you to remember is that NO DECISION IS EVER PERMANENT. This mantra has gotten me through many-a-tough weeks. I know when we first enrolled our eldest in public school, I was petrified I'd made the "wrong" choice. Then someone reminded me I was allowed to change my mind and then suddenly I was able to breathe again. Ultimately I didn't change my mind and still believe public school is the right choice for us, but just knowing that I could change my mind should the need arise gave me such sweet relief that I could relax again. So when things get rocky, take comfort in knowing that if they don't smooth out on their own, you can make a change. But quite often I've found that if I keep forging ahead, the problem irons itself out all on it's own.

Next I would encourage you to BE STRONG IN YOUR SCHOOLING DECISION. Whether you chose to homeschool or to send your kid to public or private school, hold fast to the fact that you came to this decision for a reason and resist the always-present urge to compare. My husband has to remind me of why we chose the schooling route we did all the time. Something will set me (or the kids) off, and suddenly I will find myself totally taken down by insecurities, so much so that I can't for the life of me remember why I made the schooling choice that I did in the first place. If you think it would help, write down your reasons (or just tell your husband and closest friends so they can talk you back down from the edge when you find yourself perched on a ledge).

In our case, we chose to send our kids to public school. By writing this, I am by no means trying to say that public school is the "right" decision for everyone - just that it's the right thing for us, right now. We all have different and individual needs and desires and values for our families. We felt strongly that, for our family, we were called to be "in the world but not of the world" and that we didn't want to overly-shield our kids from the realities of this world we live in. Granted, I have many-a-moment when I suddenly want to take it all back and put my kids back in my little protective bubble, but I know ultimately that would be doing them a disservice. Instead of shying away from the scary, I'm committed to face it head on and teach my kids to stand their ground and shine bright when the going gets tough. So whatever schooling decision you make, be confident in it's right-ness for you and refrain from passing judgement on others for theirs.

On the days when you just feel scared or worried, CLING TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S PRESENCE. He is with you and He is with your child. He goes before them and He cares for them infinity more than you do. Hopefully that assurance will help remind you that He's got their back.

Ok so now I have to switch gears and talk a little bit about the SHEER CRAZY that will be your child in the after-school hours for the first few weeks - (months !!!!! in our case). You thought the witching hour was bad with your toddler.... I'm not even kidding. There will be days when you are sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that they must be literally torturing your child at school based on the behavior they will exhibit at home. Be warned! They might not have a single nice word for you. Not a Single. Word. They might speak in only whine. And LOUDLY. They will be angry that you didn't arrange them a playdate or that you had the audacity to ask them to put their shoes on the shelf or simply to dump out the curdled milk they left fermenting in their thermos since Friday. There might be some door slamming and there will definitely be eye rollage when you ask them to do their homework. It will not be pretty folks, no it certainly won't.

BUT it does get better. You will find the need to CREATE SYSTEMS THAT WORK FOR YOU. It's OK to expect your kids to hang up their backpacks and coats on the hooks you created, even if they give you the utmost attitude. Develop your before and after school routines and discuss them together with you kids at a family meeting. Make sure they know what you expect from them and stick to it, even despite the 'tude.

I have found that the first few weeks of school offer me ample opportunity to EXTEND GRACE to my kids. By no means am I giving the green light allow disrespectful behavior, but it does really help ME respond better to them when I recognize they are just doggone tired from focusing all day long. When I keep this at the forefront of my memory, it's easier for my to respond to them with care and grace (versus the alternative of me yelling at them to get their stinking acts together!)

I don't know that I can emphasize this next one enough: HAVE A SNACK READY for them the minute they come in the door. Or better yet, meet them at the playground after school with something to refuel. This will help rejuvenate their fried little brain cells AND help you survive the long walk home (which of course is always uphill...) I find giving my kids a snack immediately then allows enough time for them to get hungry again for dinner. If I delay snack time at all, inevitably they will come to the kitchen around 4:45 PM "STARVING" and granting their wish most certainly spoils dinner.

Another trick I've learned that works really well for my daughter is to SIT HER DOWN AND READ TO HER right when we get home from school. I found it works especially well to do this while she is eating her a snack. Reading to her helps keep her seated for long enough to actually eat enough to get her blood sugar back where it needs to be to stave off the whining (which God knows I need!) I'm pretty sure discovering this trick midway through last year saved both of our lives! She struggles with transitions and doing something mellow helps her change gears so much. Plus it provides a fun opportunity to squeeze in some chapter books that her younger siblings never seem to have patience for at bedtime!

Y'all, Godspeed this week! My prayers are with you as you take on the school year. We're in this thing together and WE CAN DO THIS!


  1. Thanks for your insights, Kels! Such an encouragement!

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