Back to School Bliss: A parent's survival guide

My favorite commercial is the one where parents are happily shopping for school supplies, while the song in the background plays, "It's the most wonderful time of the year...." 

Don't get me wrong, I do love having the kids around all summer, and am literally watching them grow up before my eyes, so am thrilled that I'm fortunate to have this opportunity.  However....

To have my house back for a few hours, and not constantly be picking up after someone.  To not have wet towels EVERYWHERE.  To not have an empty fridge two days after filling it.  To not say, "stop fighting" 75 times a day.  To not feel like a cruise director if we haven't done anything in a couple of days.  To not be able to enjoy a treat, or time alone without someone popping around the corner saying, "What are you eating, or what are you doing?".  To be able to confine my bus driving duties between the hours of 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm.  To not trip over 40 pairs of flip flops every time I walk in the door.  THOSE are the parts I'm looking forward to when school starts.


Since I teach at a local University, I go back to school when the kids do.  Not much has changed since I was in school.  I too am having a difficult time getting back into things.  My syllabus is due on Monday, and I haven't even read the book yet.  I really do understand how they feel.  Fear, excitement and dread.

Since this is my 11th back to school, and I have kids in four different schools this year, I consider myself a bit of an expert, and there are a few things over the years that I have learned (but don't always practice):

Volunteer in school more - your kids will get better class placements.  This is just my personal theory, but I've definitely noticed a correlation in teacher and peer placement.  Those years I volunteered endless hours, my kids were thrilled with their teachers.  This past year, I didn't have time to volunteer very often.  Needless to say it wasn't exactly pleasant around here when our teachers were sent in the mail (schools will deny this, but I really believe it).

Do doctor, dentist, opthamologist, orthodontist visits way before right now  I'm currently in a scramble to get all those forms done and filled out or MY CHILD WILL NOT BE LET INTO SCHOOL!

Order the school supply kits  I have such a hard time writing that school supply kit check in March.  They want to place the order then so you get your stuff the first day of school.  All I think about are the 25 for $1 glue stick sales that start in July.  So I think I'm going to save ALL that money and get the supplies myself.  I end up torturing myself with an endless treasure hunt.

Think about lunches now  My kids think they live in a health food store around here and claim they need more junk food in their diet, so I'm always trying to be creative with their school lunches.  I found a good back to school menu ideas at

Have someone else take your teenager back to school clothes shopping  You won't have to say, "It's too short or I don't think you're allowed to wear that in school" and you won't have to endure countless eye rolls.

Take their picture getting on the bus on first day  They make for great memories and it completely mortifies the older ones.

Give a little present to the bus driver  That way when you're running late, they tend to pause that extra second to make sure you're not going to the bus stop that morning.

Recognize the teacher for good things  If a teacher goes out of their way for your child, recognize it in e-mail and copy the principle.  When I had my fifth baby, my daughter's 1st, 3rd and 5th grade teachers got together and came to my house bringing presents and dinner for my family.  I will never forget that act of kindness and I let their boss know how special and thoughtful they were.

Good Luck with the school year, and try not to cry... or show your excitement 


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