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Is it Safe for Kids to go Back to School During a Pandemic?

As we’re all faced with the red wire blue wire decision this upcoming school year, it’s hard to know what to do. It seems like a black and white answer to a black and white question but it’s not. It’s a shit load of gray in an ever-growing unknown during an election year and we’re all quickly becoming political collateral damage. But every parent wants to know, is it safe for kids to go back to school during a pandemic?

My youngest daughter is supposed to be starting back to school, in person, tomorrow. She’s not for several reasons but mostly it’s because 3 of the 4 people in our house are either immunocompromised or have underlying conditions. Unfortunately, if one of us is exposed, we’re all vulnerable. Add that to the fact that PreK-2nd grade is not required to masks and 3rd-8th are only required to wear masks during transitions and the window for exposure is too big for my comfort.

READ ALSO: How to Safely Reenter the World After Coronavirus

We’re all in the same boat. Well, we’re all in a boat. I know that too. We’re all faced with the awful decision to decide whether or not to send our kids to school. Well, maybe not. I thought those were the choices but that’s only in my coronavirus boat.

My girls go to private schools. I’m a work from home mom. The Big Guy has a good job as a global business analyst. The girls are well-adjusted and do well in school. Other than Bella having the immune system of a newborn baby, the kids are healthy and happy. We have choices. I knew that if virtual learning wasn’t offered, the decision was still mine. If they didn’t offer what we needed this year, we could choose to explore other options. I also knew that our schools tend to be more flexible than the public school system is. I’m fully aware that my boat is of privilege.

READ ALSO: What Every Mom Needs to Know about Coronavirus

So when it came to making the decision of what to do with my girls for back to school, the only things that I had to consider were if the reopening plan was safe enough (which it was, at the high school), if our family was healthy enough and if we felt that the coronavirus cases were low enough for us to feel safe sending the girls back into the masked, socially distant, sanitized school system that they attend. I don’t feel comfortable, especially after our pediatrician gave me a scared straight conversation about being diabetic and getting the coronavirus. Add that to the fact that my best friend is an ER doctor who gives me personal Coronavirus briefings and we’ve had about 20 family members contract it, 1 die and 1 currently on a ventilator and I just can’t risk it.

But, what about the single moms and dads? What about the homes where both parents have to work outside of the house? What about the special needs kids? How about the kids who don’t have internet or computers at home? What about the kids who don’t have food at home? Or parents who abuse them? What about the families who have no other options? The families who depend on schools to be open as part of the child’s quality of life? What about the kids who are falling behind?

READ ALSO: Can You Safely Send Kids Back to School During a Pandemic?

What about the teachers? Their families? What about their health and well-being? What about everyone’s mental health? How will being in school masked and feeling like every single other person is a potential threat of contracting CoVid? How are we all expected to bear the weight of carrying it to someone and killing them?

Is it Safe for Kids to go Back to School During a Pandemic?

It’s so hard. Some school districts aren’t even giving families the choice to do virtually. Our school originally only offered it to children with underlying conditions or who had family members with underlying conditions, and anyone who tested positive or exposed to CoVid-19. But last Friday, they offered it to anyone who doesn’t feel safe sending their children into the schools.

I had already opted in and scheduled Teams meetings with my daughters’ teachers so they could “meet” them virtually. The Vice Principal is coordinating a private verification day and book pick up. The classes will be offered synchronously (live-streamed in real-time). My girls will be socially distancing from our home.

READ ALSO: I Miss you Most at 6-Feet Apart

I’ve seen lots of people struggle with whether or not to send their children into the schools. At first, it seems like an easy decision when deciding between our children’s health and exposure to coronavirus. However, it’s much more complicated than that for many. It’s a gentle balance between their mental and their physical health. I get that kids need friends and socialization. My girls would love to see their friends and gain that charge only time spent with girlfriends can bring but with the risk of contracting CoVid and the unknown of the long term effects, I can’t reconcile my mind to do it not when I have a child who is more vulnerable to catching viruses and less capable of fighting them off. For me, they can make up a year of school and they can spend time with their friends virtually and later but once you contract this virus, none of us knows how it’s going to affect us now or in the future.

Is it Safe for Teachers to go Back to School During a Pandemic??

I’ve also seen lots of posts of people saying teachers are essential workers and they need to do their jobs and go back into the classroom and if they don’t want to, let someone else have their jobs. Yet, we pay them less than fast-food restaurant workers. Many of my friends and family members work in education. People who teach are special. They educate, nurture and care for your children 7 hours of the day. They spend money out of pocket and work well beyond school hours. It is done from a place of goodness and righteousness. It’s not for the money. We couldn’t afford to pay them what they’re worth. During a pandemic, do we really expect them to risk their own health and the health of their families for our sake?

Before I had the girls, I worked in education for over a decade. Last August, I went back to the classroom. I worked with 4 and 5-year-olds. I loved them. Truly loved each and every one of them. Every day I went into that classroom, their parents entrusted those tiny humans into our care and our teachers educated them and molded their brains.

Is anyone safe to go back to school during a pandemic?

In our classroom of 3 educators, I got to be the nurturing, mommy type, because that’s who I am. I spent my days walking into the room and feeling like a rock star with 23 little souls chanting my name, like I was Taylor Swift, I held hands and band-aided booboos. Those kids were my joy and watching them grow and learn was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. However, I also got sick 10 times last year. The last virus, my doctor thinks it was coronavirus, was so bad that I gave my notice. Little people coughed and sneezed directly into my mouth 4 times.

I’ve held little hands covered in boogers and had my arm licked from the hand up to the elbow while walking with a 5-year-old, more times than I can count. I soothed them when their hearts were aching for their mama’s on those first days of school. I held their hair when they vomited from the stomach flu and carried them to the nurse when they were feverish. My point is that as much as teachers love what they do, they shouldn’t have to put their own health in jeopardy to do it, definitely not during a pandemic. If your child can’t follow the rules and wear a mask maybe you should ask yourself, is it safe for kids to go back to school during a pandemic? If they can’t or you don’t feel safe, let them learn virtually.

READ ALSO:  The New Normal is Not Normal

So before you judge what any other parent, teacher or child is doing this school year, consider that maybe you don’t know what they’re going through, what they’ve been through or who they’ve lost. Stop expecting your child’s teachers to risk their lives because you don’t believe the pandemic is real. Start wearing your masks and make sure that your children are wearing theirs so we can all get back to living in this new normal safely. The thing is that as long as all of us aren’t doing our part, all of us are in danger and the longer the numbers are going to go up…the longer none of us can get back to safely living our normal lives.

What do you think, is it safe for kids to go back to school during a pandemic?c? Why or why not?

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Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

How did back-to-school come so fast? One day the kids were getting out for the summer and the next day, it was time to go back. Summer was not long enough. The older my girls get the faster the summers seem to go and, to be honest, I’m not loving it. I want to slow down time and hold on for just a little longer.

Disclosure: Amazon sent me the Happy School Year kit but all opinions are my own.

This year, my oldest starts high school, my youngest is right smack dab in middle school and I am going back to preschool. Well, I took a part-time job working with the cutest preschoolers ever. I’d almost forgotten how independent, sassy and hilarious 4-year-olds can be. Back-to-school is hitting me in all the feels everywhere this time.

READ ALSO: The first day of High School was Harder than Expected

For us, back-to-school is like New Year’s Eve. It’s a time for resetting and starting over, especially this year with my oldest being a freshman. It was the perfect opportunity to set some New School Year’s resolutions for all of us.

My oldest girl wants to keep up on her homework, get involved in school spirit and support her teams, stay physically active and get ahead on her reading. I love the way she is finding her way and becoming the fierce, ambitious young lady she wants to be. The girls wear uniforms but they are able to express themselves with their accessories, shoes and bags. Here are some of her favorite Amazon back-to-school finds, Be Brave. Be Bold. Be You. Daily Notebook, Fire HD 10 Tablet and Fujimax camera for taking pictures of all of her new friends to hang in her locker.

Back-to-school with Amazon is easy and convenient.

My youngest loves school and is a social butterfly. She is very into tech and is a bit of a VSCO girl. She’s all about being green, eating healthy and saving the world. But being that she is only 12, she is still very into fun, quirky school supplies. Did someone say  Geddes Scented Donut Shoppe Erasers,   Zebra Cadoozles Mechanical Pencils , ZIPIT Twister Pencil Case,  Wickedly Prime Plantain Chips and S’well Stainless Steel Bottle? She really loves that her  MEE KidJamz 3Child Safe Headphones and   AmazonBasics Everyday School Backpack match and she’s made them her own by adding funky pins.

READ ALSO: Back to School Breaking my Heart

As for me, I haven’t been hanging out with the preschooler set in ages so I’m stocking up on Boogie wipes, Zinc lozenges and Babyganics hand sanitizer in bulk. I’ve been a stay-at-home / work-from-home mom for the past 14-years so hanging with these little cuties a few hours every day is definitely going to boost my immune system. I should probably stock up on Vitamin C and vitamins, as well.

Amazon makes it easy to get all of your back-to-school needs met in one convenient location. We have a busy life and back-to-school is an insanely chaotic time of year for us, so convenience and dependability are very important to us. We know that we can count on amazon to get us what we need as soon as possible and that takes the stress out of back-to-school shopping for me.

Did you use Amazon for your back-to-school shopping this year? If not, why not?

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Disclosure: This back-to-school post was sponsored by Target but my love of all things Target are all my own.

Today, I got the email that our school supply list is ready and waiting. How can it be that it’s almost time for back-to-school already? It’s already time to hit Target with my school supply list in hand and start my annual “crazed mom on a mission” scavenger hunt for just the right supplies.

As a child, back-to-school was a favorite time of year for me. I loved the smell of new folders; the chance to shine my personality through with a new Unicorn Trapper Keeper and, of course, back-to-school clothes shopping was my favorite thing to do.

But as a parent, it’s a little different. Every August, I know it’s time to let go just a little bit more. With each passing new beginning, I am painfully aware that I have one less school year with my child. I’m sad about the letting go but so proud of their achievements so I try to make every back-to-school special.

My daughters see things completely different, they are ecstatic about the chance to see their friends again and, even though they won’t admit it, we all look forward to the return of our routine. The new school year is also a chance to reinvent themselves, as far as style and personality are concerned. There’s just one small problem – my girls wear uniforms. But we never let something like school uniform restrictions stop us from letting our personality shine through.

My girls have to wear school-mandated pants, shorts, polos and skirts or jumpers. There is no wiggle room here. This is an absolute. Even a rogue button or pocket is a violation of dress code and can warrant disciplinary actions, so we stay within the uniform guidelines but when it comes to socks, shoes, belts, jewelry, hair baubles, coats and school supplies, that is where the girls can pick what they want. My girls live for shopping for these pieces.

Lucky for us, Target sells uniform pieces and when it comes to accessorizing and dressing up lockers and school supplies, they’ve got that covered too. Talk about one-stop shopping.

While my oldest is excited about shopping for socks, shoes, belts, jewelry, hair baubles and coats to let her real style shine through. She also can’t wait to find the perfect outfit for the first dress down day of the year because it lets everyone know what her “real” style is and when you wear uniforms every day of the year, this is a really big deal.

My youngest, however, is really excited about the Frozen licensed products available this year. Target has Frozen pencils, composition books, notebooks, folders, backpacks and lunch bags. They also have a great selection of Star Wars, Avengers and Minions products for this year’s back-to-school. If you have to buy school supplies anyways, why not get your favorite characters to make it a little more fun?

A few friendly tips that have helped my family get through back-to-school shopping and actually enjoy it:

Start shopping as soon as the school supply list becomes available if you don’t want to end up frustrated with all the masses that waited until the last minute. Been there, done that. Not doing it again.

Go early in the day so the kids are not tired, cranky or wanting to be someplace else.

Feed everyone before you start shopping. Hangry and shopping do not pair well together.

Go with an open heart and mind and let your child allow their personality to shine through. It might just be socks or a folder to you but to your child, it might mean everything.

Enjoy every second of it because it all goes by too quickly. Take the chance to make it a day of bonding with your children. We make a day of it with our girls.

Target always makes it easy for our family to head back to school. This is why Target is my first choice for shopping for all the things my family needs. This year won’t be any different.

How are you preparing for back-to-school this year?

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new normal, Coronavirus, Covid-19, back to school in pandemic, how to send kids back to school during a pandemic, face masks

Like most parents, I’m overwhelmed trying to decide whether or not to send my girls back to school this fall and I know that I am not alone. August 13th is coming at us like a freight train. I’m not normally a nervous person but the thought of sending my girls back to school has me terrified. The question every parent wants the answer to is how to send kids back to school during a pandemic? Is it even possible to do it safely? Let’s ask the CDC

I’m an optimist but I also have common sense and I do not take chances when it comes to the life and death of my girls. I don’t f*ck around. On March 9, my best friend (who happens to be an ED doctor) called and warned me that quarantine was coming and Coronavirus was much more serious than any of us anticipated. By that Thursday, I had decided to take my girls out of school.new normal, Coronavirus, Covid-19, back to school in pandemic, how to send kids back to school during a pandemic, face masks

READ ALSO: What Every Mom Should Know About Coronavirus

It was an easy decision. My daughters’ health was in jeopardy by an unknown pandemic. My gut told me what to do and I did it. We’re still quarantining because there is still so much about the pandemic that we don’t fully understand. I’ve lost friends and family members, more each day are contracting this virus. With each announcement, I’m more acutely aware of how easily any one of us can fall victim to it, and none of us know how our immune system will react to it. If you’ve given yourself false security by choosing to believe that it’s only other people’s families and friends who die from CoVid-19, you’re wrong. It doesn’t discriminate. Anyone of us can get it.

I felt safe when we were all staying in the house. I know that’s not sustainable for the long-term.

Was it frustrating for the world to come to a screeching halt? Yes, I’m not naturally a person who can stay still.

Is distance learning inconvenient and stressful? Yes.

Do I wish everyone’s lives could go back to normal and we could safely go back to life as we knew it before CoVid? More than anything. We’ve lost months of plans, travels, celebrations and time with people we love that we won’t ever be able to recover.

Do I want my girls to enjoy their 8th grade and sophomore year of school, filled with firsts and lasts and all the childhood goodness in between? 1000x yes but I don’t think it’s possible this year. We’re no safer than we were in March. In truth, it’s even more dangerous now because, people refuse to wear masks and social distance, and those are the only weapons we have to currently protect us.

READ ALSO: Doctor Gave Up Her Kids to Take Care of Coronavirus Patients

I’d like to believe that if everyone was taking responsibility for their own well-being, observing social distancing wearing masks, we could all find our way through this together. It would be easier to trust that people were trying to do the right thing. We could all take peace knowing that we were all working together to protect each other, out of human courtesy and respect for life, regardless of a little personal inconvenience.

The government is urging our schools to open, even threatening to withhold funds. How can they ask parents to send the children we created, birthed and love more than anything else in this world back into schools in the middle of a pandemic? I fully understand that our economy is in danger of collapse because of shutdowns but at what cost are we willing to sacrifice for economic comfort? We can live without a lot of comforts but my children are not an option. No one wants to sacrifice their family for economic recovery.  Nobody should have to. Human life is irreplaceable, no matter your politics. I wouldn’t sacrifice my enemy’s life for my own economic satisfaction.

People are scared of losing their homes, their jobs, and their very way of life because of coronavirus. Requiring that our children go back to the classroom is irresponsible and dangerous. Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump are effectively saying that our children’s lives, the teachers’ lives, and our (the parents’) lives are less important than the DOW Jones. It’s easy to surmise that when an administration lies to a nation and tells us the opposite of common sense and truth, puts our lives in jeopardy, there’s another agenda right beneath the surface and it’s not altruistic and it has nothing to do with our freedoms. It’s about what politics has always been about money and power.

READ ALSO:  I Miss you Most at 6-Feet Apart

You’re probably wondering how to send kids back to school in a pandemic. What our high school is doing has addressed a lot of my concerns. It’s a very comprehensive and well-thought-out plan but even still, I’m not sure that it’s enough to convince me to feel safe enough to send my daughters to school. At the end of the day, my kid is still immune-compromised and I’m diabetic. Whether I want to believe it or not, going into a public place of 1000 or more students (even with a mask and everything intended to be done right) in one building puts their lives in jeopardy because there is a lot of room for human error. When you’re dealing with children, human error is more likely than not.

new normal, Coronavirus, Covid-19, back to school in pandemic, how to send kids back to school during a pandemic, face masks

Here are a few things our school is doing to send kids back to school during a pandemic, I won’t share it all because it’s a 16 page PDF ( I told you that it was comprehensive) but here are a few things:

  1. Masks to be worn in transition (in and out of building, between classes, on way to anywhere).
  2. In class, the desk will be socially distanced, masks are not required (this part gives me pause)
  3. unless asking a teacher for help.
  4. If you are in a class with a teacher who is older or immune-compromised, mask must be worn the entire time. If you cannot do so, due to a medical reason, the student will be transferred to a different classroom.
  5. Anyone who tests positive, must stay home for 10 days and must be fever free for 72 hours. Cannot return to school without a physician’s note and negative tests for coronavirus.
  6. There is a separate CoVid isolation room with plexiglass between beds and its own ventilation system for anyone exhibiting symptoms. Students must be picked up within 30 minutes if sick and going home.
  7. Students who are vulnerable, immune-compromised, have parents who with underlying conditions, have been exposed to CoVid or have tested positive symptomatic or asymptomatic are to participate in virtual learning which will be live-streamed daily by all teachers so kids can “attend” class from home and have live interaction and learning.
  8. Desks and chairs to we sanitized when students enter the room and before they leave.
  9. Hallways will be one way.
  10. 10 minutes between classes to allow for one-way traffic and getting books in a safe manner.
  11. All returned library books will be isolated for 10 days.
  12. The school will be fogged nightly.
  13. Lunch will be socially distanced, utilizing cafeteria and Basketball gym as well as adding a 4th lunch period. Lunches are to be packed from home or plated and delivered by cafeteria workers. Masks must be worn until sat at chosen, assigned (for the year) seat. No more a la cart offerings. Only touchless pay.
  14. Lockers will now be Freshman, sophomore, junior and senior versus whole grades in certain hallways. No sharing of lockers unless you are related and quarantined together, in which case, you will be required to share a locker with your sibling.
  15. Students will be dismissed to lockers in a staggered phase i.e. Freshman and Juniors after the first period, then sophomores and Seniors after the second period, alternating as such for the remainder of the day.
  16. Daily dismissal staggered.

There is so much more. Our plan is very comprehensive. It’s great on paper. I’m just not so sure how it will work in reality.  I hope it works and fully recognize that it’s a little different for our private school than it is for public schools. It’s a privilege that all of our students have laptops and WiFi and that many of our students have at least one parent who stays at home and can readily be available when and if we need to go to virtual learning.

READ ALSO: The New Normal is Not Normal

You’re not alone. None of know how to do this. We’re all in this together. But if you can’t reconcile yourself to which way to choose, if you can, err on the side of caution. We can overcome a pandemic but we can’t bring back the dead. Go with your gut and do what’s best for your family and your child. This is a new territory and there is no absolute right or wrong answer but I think the choice ultimately should be with the parents. No matter what you decide, we’re all in this pandemic together. Stay safe, wash your hands, social distance and PLEASE wear your masks.

Are you or what are your thoughts on how to send kids back to school during a pandemic?

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teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply lists

It’s back-to-school for us already. Boo. Hiss. Sorry, I’ve already started my waking up early training and it’s not going so well. It’s like being hangry but with no sleep.

The girls are officially 2 weeks out from returning back to the classroom, quiet returning to my house and a regimented schedule being back in place. No more late nights giggling and staying up way past their bedtimes making s’mores or catching fireflies, no more long, lazy days lounging by the pool or playing in the sand and surf, no more impromptu road trips and no more after dinner runs for ice cream. It’s a little bit sad, especially since these days, I am acutely aware that our summers together are fading and before I know it, they will be grown and creating summer memories of their own with their children.

But today, before I go fully sentimental and start crying like the moms in the kindergarten corridor on the first day of school, we thrive in chaos. We ride the bikes under the shadows of the big branch of the trees, we feel the sun shine on our faces and we act as silly as we want; laughing at the most nonsensical things that are only funny because of inside jokes we share. Tonight, we stay up too late at the drive-in. We try to sop and soak up every second of summer together goodness.

I’m not in denial. I know what’s coming for us and it’s serious business. It’s the beginning of 5th and 7th grade. It’s first day nerves followed by the relief of seeing familiar faces and falling back into routines. It’s letting go and holding on. It’s watching my little girls’ metamorphosis into smart, funny, quirky adolescents. Being a mother is a lifetime of witnessing a series of miracles small and large. It’s seeing my past in their present.It’s being there to pick them up when they stumble. Mostly, it’s all of us growing and embracing this new phase of childhood and motherhood. It’s hard because it’s so important but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be.

My parenting philosophy has always been the same, spend your time on the things that matter the most. Prioritize like your life depends on it and never lose sight of what’s important. Work smarter, not harder. So, obviously, most days my house looks like a couple hurricanes made a pass through. Dishes often set in my sink awaiting the quiet and stillness of bedtime. The dust bunnies these days are as big as the ones in my backyard and the fingerprints on the hallway mirror are of all sizes because the girls have grown in the past six years. The thing is that I’ve had to learn to let that stuff go because if not, I waste valuable time focusing on the wrong things.

I don’t want my girls to look back in 20 years and remember how grouchy I was about disheveled pillows or unfolded laundry. I want them to look back and remember one feeling, in particular, the “my mom loved the crap out of me” feeling. I want it to come over them slowly from their head to their toes like a heart hug and I want them to smile, knowing they are loved unconditionally and for eternity. Then, I want them to go forth and spread that love to their own families.

This year, when I started my chaotic, “chicken with my head cut off” dance that I do every year (otherwise known as back-to-school shopping, a mix of half rebellion and irritation that obligation has crept into our last remaining summer days together) I reminded myself to work smarter and not harder. Firstly, I didn’t wait until 2 days before school started. I started 3 weeks early. I ordered all of our uniforms online. It was perfect because all of the back-to-school sales have started but the stock is still plentiful and all sizes are available. In fact, they are already here and hung in the closets ready for the first day of school. Unlike the year I waited until the very last minute and had to order plus size for my stick straight child because that was all that was left. It did not work out well for us and I do not recommend it.

Then, I used some gift cards that I had to order backpacks. The girls and I spent a good half-an-hour online looking through all the backpacks and I let them pick whichever ones they wanted. In the past, I limited their options and they were very limited but I feel that at 10 and 12-years-old, they know what they need to meet their backpacking needs at school better than I do. They’ll be here tomorrow.

My least favorite thing about back-to-school is the dreaded school supply list. It’s so large and tedious. The four of us pile in the Enclave, take a deep breath and get our game faces on before venturing into the back-to-school section of Walmart or Target. None of us are happy.

Every year, some or all of us have a breakdown inside the store over something like a decorated folder or stretchy book cover. It’s sensory overload with parents on edge, children on meltdown and everyone annoyed at the entire experience. All of that up and down the aisles back and forth is dizzying. I feel like I need a Dramamine just to get through it.

But then this year, I found out about TeacherLists.com when I was approached to work with them and OMG, what? I wish I knew about this before. So what is TeacherLists.com, you ask? It’s a website that makes convenience for you, its mission. Because they understand how precious these last few days of sucking out the marrow of summer are to all of us.

teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply lists

It’s this simple. Go to TeacherLists.com, put in your zip code, locate your child’s school supply list immediately, click on it and the supply list will be available (if not, don’t worry it will be soon) and it curates the entire list for you. All you need to do is pick which retailer you want to use (there are several to choose from including Amazon, Target, Jet and Walmart) and then check your list, you may want to make some adjustments for style (you know backpacks, folders, and brands) and then you can put it in your cart and either have it delivered to your front door or pick up at the store if more convenient for you. The curated cart will also tell you if any of the products are not available or out of stock so you can plan accordingly.

teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply listsAside from saving yourself the hassle of dealing with the crazy that always exists in the stores at back-to-school and your sanity. You save yourself the aggravation of trying to locate the supply list itself because it is right there on the website. If it hasn’t been uploaded yet, you can receive an alert when the list has been posted. Then you get to spend more laughter-filled moments of ice cream running down your elbows in the sunshine with the little people you love the most instead of wasting that time being annoyed that you can’t find some imaginary brand of watercolor paints that the new teacher added to the list just to keep you on your toes.

If you really do enjoy the whole back-to-school shopping experience (you unicorn, you) you can use TeacherLists.com to print the list off and experience it in real time. I’ll pass. See you on the other side, friend.

teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply lists

Visit TeacherLists.com for a quick and convenient way to shop for your child’s school supplies. Spend that extra time together at the lake, looking at the stars, sitting around a campfire and being present together because these are the series of moments that make up a life well-lived.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by TeacherLists.com and The Motherhood. All opinions about back-to-school shopping are my own.

 

 

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public school, private school, bad parent, good parent, education

Hi, my name is Debi and I am a product of public school. Before you get your panties in a wad about the title, this is in response to a post on Slate called, If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.

Let me start by saying (or admitting, as Slate would have you believe it’s a crime) that I send my children to private school. GASP! I don’t really believe you are a bad person for sending your kid to public school. I believe that as parents we all do the best we can for our kids. If trying our best makes us terrible then we’re all the worst kind of parents.

I didn’t go to private school and neither did my husband. We grew up blue collar. I am one of six kids who had a stay-at-home mom and a father who worked as a forklift driver in a factory. We survived on one blue-collar salary, Tang, public school and all the gluten. We survived. We overcame but I’m not sure any of us thrived in that situation.

Let me put this in further perspective, I was a gifted child in all honors classes and still I was not challenged. I was bored and by the time I was in high school, I was so unchallenged that I hated going to school because it felt like a waste of my time.

I wasn’t thriving because even the best at my public school wasn’t good enough.

When I had children, I knew that if I could afford it, I wanted to send them to private school. More specifically, I wanted to send them to Catholic school because I liked the idea of more challenging academics with constant spiritual nurturing incorporated into their daily routine. Yes, you can do that at home on your own but I like the idea of spirituality and faith being present daily and, perhaps more importantly, how it molds them and the children they spend their days with.

We are not independently wealthy. We are middle class parents who have made the decision that we want to give our children the best opportunity to grow and learn at a young age. In making this decision, we have accepted the fact that we may have to sacrifice other things. Things like extravagant vacations and a larger house. Don’t feel sorry for us, we still travel a couple times a year, our home is in a wonderful neighborhood in the suburbs and there is always plenty to eat. We made the decision to invest in their future but it’s not compromising our present in any way that is too much for us to bear.

The author of the article said that parents who put their children in private school are bad parents because we are doing a disservice to the other children of the world because after all, doesn’t every child deserve a great education? Yes, they do but it is not my place to save the world. It is my responsibility to do for my children. The only way the author’s scenario works is if you take private schools out of the equation entirely. Then, and only then, will all focus shift to bettering the public schools which I wholeheartedly agree needs to be done.

Those who follow her idea of putting our children into public schools with subpar curriculums now to make education better unintentionally make our children martyrs to the cause. I’m not willing to sacrifice my children’s education in hopes that I might be able to make the world a more level playing ground for future generations of hypothetical children. Meanwhile, failing the two I gave birth to. It is not my right to sacrifice their future. It is my duty to protect it.

By this author’s logic, I can argue that if you have the means and you don’t put your child in private school, then you don’t love your child at all. If I am a monster for caring for my children and doing my best to give them every opportunity to excel in this world then so be it because at the end of the day, my only responsibility is to my children.

Raising good humans who are functional, contributing and caring members of society is literally the most important thing a parent will ever do with their life. This is done by being present, be involved and giving them the guidance to achieve their hopes and dreams and that all starts with a good education. The system is failing the public schools, not me.

Are we bad people because we didn’t send our children to public school?

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back-to-school

Back-to-School ; it’s the most wonderful or awful time of year (depending on how old your children are) again.

Back-to-School

  • Purchasing all the items on the school supply list is like a going scavenger hunt for the holy educational grail. It’s exhausting, exasperating and you will most likely not find the last item on the list.
  • Abruptly dragging kids off the beach to go school clothes shopping is like trying to take a carb starved model away from cake.
  • Trying to wake a kid ( who’s been sleeping in all summer) for school is like trying to lose ten pounds on the chocolate shake diet.

Back-to-School Truisms

  • Shopping for school uniforms is about as exciting as watching paint dry, for all parties involved.
  • Walking away from your child on the first day of kindergarten is emotionally harder than 13 hours of transition labor.
  • Lunches, do yourself a favor and invest in a bento box, one of those cooling Packit lunch boxes and make lunch for your kid. What they let pass for a healthy lunch these days are NOT what any Mommy in her right senses would consider “nutritious”. A bread stick, grapes and something fried…does not a healthy lunch make.

  • The first time you leave your child with strangers (school, ballet, daycare) you will cry and feel overwhelming guilt. You are not a bad Mommy. Guilt is the benchmark of a great Mommy.
  • For the younger sibling of a kindergartener, every morning is like sending the kindergartener off to war and every pick up is like the return from the war…safe and victorious.
  • NOT allowing your child to go on a field trip with 47 five year olds, 2 teachers and no chaperones is not only a good idea, it’s pretty much required for safety.

Back-to-School;Back to letting go

  • Watching your child struggle in social situations is like watching them try to learn how to walk for the first time. You stand back, see what happens and then you give them gentle nudges in the right direction,if all else fails, you grab them by the hands and show them how it’s done.
  • In all things concerning your child’s well being, trust your mommy gut. It’s not there just for decoration.
  • The first week of school will be exhausting, overwhelming and frustrating. It won’t be a picnic for the kids either.
  • You will take three trips to seven different stores to find that just right sized pair of uniform pants that fit perfectly and don’t look to “uniformy”, only to find out that they are $200 vintage khaki’s that were worn by Marcia Brady on an episode of the Brady Bunch and you can’t afford them anyways.
  • First day of drop off, you can be sure that some uber Mommy will walk right up to you , call you by your name and talk to you like she’s known you forever while you stand there speechless because your brain is fried from the summer sun and you have NO idea who the hell she is..
  • Seeking absolution from your drop off faux pas, you will feel the need to step up your Mommying game.This can cause you to do something foolish, like volunteer for several different committees. DO not do this.Your guilt will pass but those committees will expect you to show up.
  • Back-to-school is more than checklists, new clothes and a new school year. Back-to-school is letting go and growing up. More often than not, Back-to-School will leave you in a pool of snot and tears.

Back-to-School

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school uniforms, little girls, body image, private school, self-esteem,

Okay, at the risk of sounding like a complete asshole, I want to discuss Education Vouchers. Our state has recently put into place a program that provides education vouchers for many children in the state to give them the financial ability to attend a private school of their choosing. Sounds awesome. Finally, children who were not wealthy could still have access to a private education.

I grew up poor but was always at the top of my class. I worked my ass off because my parents stressed the value of a good education. It was important to our family.Had the voucher program been in place when I was a kid, I could have gone to private school and received a more challenging education than what my public school education could provide.

My girls attend private school because we place value and importance on education. We are by no means wealthy but we made the choice to prioritize our girl’s educations over other things.We made the decision to sacrifice in other areas. We go without some things so the girls can get the best education we can provide for them. Unfortunately, even though we are not wealthy we also don’t qualify for the education voucher but I was still 100% in favor of education vouchers because if it could help one kid who needed it to get to an education they deserved, it was perfect.

Here is the problem, the education voucher was a great idea in theory prompted by people with seemingly good intentions but in fact, it is failing miserably, in my own personal experience. You see when you attend private school, there are usually a battery of entrance requirements; interviews, stipulations, testing. Parental involvement is a must and if it’s parochial, so is involvement in the church. At out school, the staff know al the parents because we volunteer on a regular basis. We see each other several times a week and we are in many ways, a family. But when you attend private school on an education voucher none of that applies. None of it. None.Of.IT!! I don’t think that is fair at all but that’s not here or there because fair is a luxury life doesn’t usually afford us. This is not me being an elitist snob this is me stating facts.

Every morning at drop off, I see kids whose parents took the voucher and forced their kids to attend private school. Some want to be there but others don’t. I don’t begrudge a parent for wanting better for their child but if you are going to go in, go all in and be involved with their kids education more than just dropping them off at school. They are not required to be involved in school activities like the parents of traditional students. At our school, traditionally it is required that the entire family be involved. There are requirements and expectations in place for both parents and students.

We oblige because we want the education for our children and we want to optimize the experience because we are invested ourselves, financially and personally. What bothers me is that the parents of the children attending on vouchers are not required to volunteer at the school or attend the church. Since the voucher went into effect, our school rating has fallen. I think it has a lot to do with uninvolved parents who are not invested in the program because they didn’t have to pay for it and in effect, children who take for granted what they’ve been given. It’s just not that important when you don’t have to earn it or pay for it.

I’m paying a lot of money in tuition for my kid to go to what is becoming a subpar school while these other parents send their child to the same school for free. We bust our ass to meet the stringent requirements as a family in order to attend the school. Meanwhile, the parents of the voucher students don’t have to do anything. My issue is not with the children, my issue is with the program. There needs to be equal admissions qualifications for all families, vouchers aside.There needs to be academic standards in place as criteria for admissions. Some sort of academic testing should be in place and there should be an interview process in which the parents are made aware of and held to the same standards as all the other parents and students.

I think financial need should be a qualification but there needs to be testing to make sure they deserve to be there; that they can keep up educationally and that they actually want to be there. If they don’t qualify then they shouldn’t get to attend the school; voucher or not. Why should the kids whose parents have worked their asses off to provide them with a great education and who have worked hard since kindergarten to be a part of the school, now have to accept the new lower standard in education excellence?

What do you think about kids being accepted into private schools simply because they qualify for free tuition through education vouchers?

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first day of school, back to school, the different kinds of moms you meet on the first day of school, letting go

How can it already be the first day of school? This morning my girls went back to school and, honestly, I am not ok with it. Usually, by this point in the summer, I am ready for them to go back to school. We all begin to get a little bored with one another and crave our routine but not today.

This morning, I wanted to sleep in and cuddle a little longer. I wanted my morning pile in. I wanted brunch and long conversations about nothing. I wanted to watch all the cheesy horror movies and rom coms together. I wanted a few more lazy days of togetherness. I wanted it to be harder for them to go but it wasn’t. It was one of the easiest mornings we’ve ever had.

We just got back from a relaxing RV beach vacation in Cape Hatteras on Monday. Tuesday, I took the girls to get their new back to school/big girl haircuts and pick up some back to school supplies. Yesterday, we had a lazy girl’s day with grandma and today, I swear my girls aged 3 years since we returned from vacation. I’m not joking, I’m positive Bella grew 2 inches this week because she’s at least 2 inches taller than me now and she wasn’t last week.

I used to write about wanting to collapse in the kindergarten corridor because all the new moms were doing it. Misery enjoys company and if everyone else is doing it, well, there’s no shame in assuming the fetal position and sobbing like a baby.  Then I moved on to doing a sort of ninja warrior sprint through the kindergarten hallway to get to my slightly older girls’ classrooms.

READ ALSO: Why 3rd Grade Sucks and I prefer the Weeping Mothers of K-2

By last year, I was cocky. I wasn’t crying. I was thrilled about the sound of silence that fills an empty house. I even brazenly walked my girls, right past those collapsed moms, stepping over the one by one, chest puffed out as I walked my girls to the middle school corridor. I walked them into their classes and kissed them just because I could. I knew they wanted to run rather than let the other kids see but unfortunately for them, years of being the cool room mom have made my presence always acknowledged by the kids.

But this morning, my big girls with their long legs and new hairstyles didn’t need me to walk them in. There was no box full of Kleenex and disinfectant wipes to use as an excuse so I dropped them in the drop off line like all the other parents. Both of them in the middle school corridor this year.

I would have been fine except the Big Guy, who obviously hates me when he kissed us each goodbye this morning told the girls to have a great first day. Bella, my eighth grader, said, “Nah, it’s going to be boring.” because that’s what eighth graders do because they are actually too cool for school. To which my brilliant and cruel husband responded, “Well, enjoy it kiddo because next year it’s off to high school for you.” Then, he left and I fell down dead. He killed me and I’m sure he didn’t think twice or even realize that I am wounded.

READ ALSO: The First Day of Kindergarten

So instead of dropping my girls off this morning and doing my happy dance for uninterrupted work time and no more background noise of tween/teen bickering, I dropped my girls off with a swift kiss and an I love you. I think my voice may have even cracked as I swallowed hard to compose myself. I don’t think they even noticed and that’s what I want. Independent, happy young ladies who face every new day and challenge like it’s an adventure. I let go and it freaking hurt. Hey, what’s going on? This isn’t kindergarten.

I won’t lie, I thought of pulling into the primary parking lot and taking a stroll into the kindergarten corridor to be among my people this morning because I could have used a good fetal position ugly cry. The girls would have never known. Instead, I came home and wrote a sad post about letting go when you don’t want to and holding on for as long as you can. But eventually, we all have to let go. And damn it, next year there’s high school. I wonder if they have a secret freshman mom hallway where I can ugly cry? Well, you know me, where there’s a will there’s a way. If there isn’t one, I’ll make one.

Happy first day of school moms.

Whether you are celebrating or sobbing, you’re doing it right and don’t get too cocky, motherhood is not a straight line. There is an unexpected ebb and flow to it. Some days you are on top of the world and other days, you are in desperate need of life’s kindergarten corridors.

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seattle school shooting,Bremerton Washington, Amina Bowman, Armin Jahir Elementary, NRA, gun discharge

Throat Punch Thursday,Seattle, school shooting, Washington, Amina Kocer-Bowman, Armin Jahr Elementary School

Seattle school shooting

Seattle School Shooting ~ You read that right. In case you weren’t already terrified enough of letting your kids out of your sight after Anders Behring Breivik or Levi Aron, nothing like a Seattle school shooting to remind you. According to Bremerton police, Wednesday, 2/22/12, a gun was brought to a Armin Jahr Elementary, in a 9 year old’s backpack.

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