Adjusting to back-to-school: Is it harder on the kids or the parents?

He says:

I have always loved back-to-school time. The excitement of seeing friends again; the smell of new school supplies; the thrill of getting new school clothes! It was great. Of course, it was a drag to have summer come to an end but by the end of summer, my friends and I were getting bored and were ready for a change of pace.

Back when I was a kid, we didn’t have the electronics kids do today so we spent our long days of summer running around from early morning until it got dark, exploring and having loads of fun (and sometimes getting into loads of trouble). Good times. These days, as we all know, the lure of things revolving around screens are so powerful and seductive, you have to convince kids to get off the couch and get outside and get moving. Sad times.

Despite our daily efforts to offer opportunities that get our kids out and moving, they still prefer to “hang” in front of a screen. So back-to-school time for me means a forced hiatus from that kind of sedate life to, well, another sedate life at a school desk, looking at, yes, a computer screen. But at least their brains are getting used in a much better way! It’s a shift toward something more intelligent and intellectual, which I welcome whole-heartedly.

She says:

I agree with Thomas’ points completely. However, back-to-school time is also a mixed bag of pleasures and stresses. Summer break means a break from a variety of hassles. The kids and I get a 10-week break from driving each other crazy over bed-time and wake-time, over getting homework done and remembering to show me all papers that need to be seen and signed. Life takes on a calmer pace. A little too calm.

As Thomas said, summer is also filled with having to convince the kids to get up before noon, for heaven’s sake and to turn the TV off and do something creative or physically active.

And as the one who has been the bad guy getting them up at a reasonable time, doing everything in my power to get them away from screens and out into the world, I am thrilled to have the kids go back to school.  I love the structure that school time provides to the family. There is a defined reason to get up in the morning, on time and to bed on time at night (although the kids always push that, no matter how tired they are). Our days have order to them which, as any professional organizer will tell you, brings order to your head and to your life, in general.

The new school year is full of high hopes for the kids and for us. My kids have all said they want this to be the year they remain organized, keep up with every assignment, remember to give me papers that need to be signed and want to avoid letting friend-drama distract them. Music to my ears, I tell you!

And we, as parents, have vowed to make sure we have a healthy, brain-fueling after school snack ready because they are famished when they get home, that we WILL be checking homework and signing off on their planners (this isn’t something the kids want us to do, mind you, but it must be done), and that we will make sure the house is quiet during homework time (which means Mom and Dad don’t get TV screen time).

As with every year, we start out with great intentions and absolute resolve to do things right this year to make it the best school year ever. Do we all faulter within, oh, a week? Yes. But we will keep trying to get back on track and do our best. And then, oh, about March, we’ll find ourselves longing for a break from all that structure so that we can have the freedom and ease of summer again.

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