I wouldn’t say this directly to my kids because they might take it the wrong way. But here’s the truth: Back-to-school time makes me happy.
It’s not because the kids will spend more time away from the house. I actually love our relaxed summer schedule, if you can even call it that. There have been plenty of days the kids didn’t change out of their pajamas until two in the afternoon. They’d watch movies, play board games or float around in the pool with friends. The hustle and bustle of the school year can be intense, so I like to see them get a break from the busyness.
The reason I secretly look forward to this time of year has everything to do with the shopping – school supplies, in particular.
My inner nerd loves the smell of a fresh package of No. 2 pencils. There’s something so satisfying about an unblemished spiral notebook and its pristine white pages. A brand new box of 24 perfectly sharpened crayons gives me 24 reasons to feel good. Don’t even get me started on the joys of a new backpack, a fresh cube of Post-it notes and decorative folders. Polka dots, stripes, solids, patterns. I’ll take one of each, please.
Although the kids enjoy choosing new things for the fall semester, they hate how early the back-to-school advertisements invade their serene summer bliss. By mid-July, Walmart already had a few aisles of school supplies, and the ads were everywhere we turned.
Nothing puts a bummer on your summer quite like the constant reminder it’s about to end.
“It’s still summer!” My 12-year-old defiantly shouted toward the looming back-to-school signage. “It’s not time yet!”
Poor kid. Put yourselves in his back-to-school shoes. What if, every Friday night, we grown-ups saw an ad on television reminding us that Monday morning work is right around the corner. No one wants to hear the clock ticking down on our precious free time.
Because this is our last week of summer break, I’m trying to ease the kids’ upcoming transition. While I can’t necessarily convince them that school is going to be a non-stop fun-fest, I can make them more willing to leave the house.
Here’s how I do it: I slowly increase the number of chores I need them to do around here. I don’t announce it, mind you. I just tell the kids I’m swamped with writing deadlines and need extra help to get things done.
“Jack, please go change the load of laundry and hang up the shirts in the dryer before they wrinkle!”
“Adam, my car is so dirty. Please go Windex the windows, wipe down the interior and clean the floor mats.”
“Kate, the litter box needs to be cleaned again. Better get to it!”
By the time Monday morning rolls around, the kids might not be thrilled about going back to school but it definitely sounds better than laundry and litter boxes. All they needed was a little perspective.
You’re welcome, kids. I’m so happy I could help.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.