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Back-to-school

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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first day of high school, high school, back to school. teenagers

Nothing could have prepared me for my daughter’s first day of high school. I expected there to change. Even expected there to be stress and nervous energy. Definitely, did not expect the first day of high school to be harder than the first day of kindergarten. It was so much worse.

I not the mom who cried in the kindergarten corridor, my girls are stoic. They’re independent and they suck it up. They get that from their daddy. I’m highly emotional. I do suck it up but I always give myself permission to feel my feelings.

READ ALSO: Kindergarten, the beginning of the end

All summer Bella’s joked that she wants to be homeschooled. She’s wanted to be homeschool since about 2nd grade. Due to demanding dance schedules, Bella’s ballet friends are homeschooled. I never put much weight in it because I work from home. I’ve taught and had classroom time. But teaching your own child is something different entirely so my answer has always been a firm no.

But this summer, she wouldn’t drop it. I assumed she was getting nervous for the change to high school. After all, she’s been at the same school since 1st grade. But on that first morning, she was overcome with fear and begged me to not make her go.

READ ALSO: The Different Kinds of Moms You Meet on the First Day of School

Do you have any idea how hard that was for me? I’m very close to my girls. We’re a small family, just the 4 of us and they really are my best friends ( I know it’s not cool to say that but in our case, it is true). I don’t say no very often to things they really want. Things yes but not asks of me as a mom. This morning, I had to stand strong and push my baby bird out of the nest, for her own good.

As moms, I think most of us would love to just keep our little ones snuggled up near us forever but that’s not what’s best for them. How can I expect her to be a functioning good human being when I let her shy away from everything that scares her?

The entire car ride to school, she was silently holding back tears. I saw it. I didn’t acknowledge it because, just like when they are toddlers and you make a deal about a booboo, that’s the moment the histrionics begin. I was trying to be stoic because, confession, I am totally the mom who kisses all the booboos and makes a big deal. But I needed to be strong for her.

READ ALSO: Slipping through my Fingers

About a block from the school, we were stopped in traffic and she could see the cars lining up to make the street cross at the yield sign. She could see all the other freshman and realized that she knew none of them. I heard the whimpering as she stifled her cries. My heart broke into a zillion pieces. Be strong, Debi. You can do this. Do it for Bella She needs you. This is not about you. Do NOT fall apart woman. Not turning the car went against all of my mommy instincts.

There we were in the car at drop off on her first official morning of high school. This day was just for incoming freshman. I love that. The student ambassadors were standing outside lining the drop off lanes, holding banners welcoming the new students. Cheerleaders were cheering. Teachers were standing at attention with full-faced smiles. Even the school mascot was standing outside giving out free hugs. I felt comfortable dropping her off in this situation.

I turned to the passenger seat and there say my baby, my firstborn, sobbing from fear of the unknown and no amount of reassurance was going to fix this but neither was letting her not face it. It was now. This was her moment. It was also a really hard parenting moment because I confess, all I wanted to do was grab her in my arms, peel outta there and take her home with me and make it all better. Instead, holding back tears behind my giant Gucci sunglasses, I grabbed her hand, told her that I loved her, kissed her cheek and told her to have the best day. ” I’ll see you soon.”

first day of high school, high school, back to school. teenagers

Looking back at me with her cheetah spotted face, through blubbering from sheer panic and fear, she said, “I hate you, mom.” I knew she didn’t mean it. I knew that was her way of letting me know how very hard this moment was for her. This was her being scared and clinging to anything that would get me to stop the trajectory of our morning. She wanted off. She wanted out. She was terrified and I was the only thing that stood between her and the comfort of how things were.

I cried all the way home. I felt like the worst mom in the history of the world. I felt like I had abandoned her at the moment she needed me most. But I know that I did the right thing because it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I had to walk away when my daughter metaphorically had her hands outstretched to me, begging me to rescue her. Instead, I gently pushed her out of the nest. I’m not sure how I’m going to survive when she goes away to college.

READ ALSO:  Only 9 more Summers

That’s the thing about being a parent, we have to love them so much that we do what’s best for them, even when it breaks our hearts. We have to let them go, even when all we want to do is hold them tight. We have to love them so hard that they see themselves the way we do. We lift them up, give them courage and self-confidence when they are at their most vulnerable. We watch from the sidelines, with no glory or fanfare, being their biggest cheerleaders for all of their lives. We love them enough to convince them to see that they are as wonderful as we’ve always known they were…since that moment they were first placed upon our chest the moment they were born.

What was your child’s first day of school like this year?

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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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HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card but all opinions about back to school shopping and the HP Envy x360 Laptop.

Can you believe it’s almost time for back-to-school already? Here, we have less than 2 weeks left to soak up the last bits of summer. However, thanks to the back-to-school supply list in hand, I’ve painfully aware that school is happening sooner than later. Enter the HP Envy x360 Laptop.

The thing is every year we’re provided with this basic list of things our children need and then we use our best judgment and our budget to decide what we do with that list. For example, if it says 20 pencils, do you buy 20 generic #2 pencils or do you let your child express themselves by picking out 20 pencils with designs of their choosing? It’s these little touches that change everything.

Our family is pretty tech savvy. The Big Guy works in IT and I live in tech. These things trickle down. The girls have been surrounded by the latest high tech gadgets their entire lives. We limit their usage but they have high expectations so our tech can’t be basic. It needs to be better than that.

READ ALSO: Must-Have Gadgets for Tech Savvy Parents

As the girls get older, their tech needs to have more capabilities. Being the children of tech-savvy parents, they’ve got different standards. My girls do more than just play games and do homework on their laptops.

They’re into coding and building. The girls have a blog, YouTube channel and other social channels. These kids are trying to build a brand. That means editing videos and photos. Yes, they do still play games and watch Netflix on their laptops too. On top of all of this, they are still children so I need a laptop that is durable and capable of being a good fit for the user.

HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

I’ve been considering upgrading my 13-year-old’s laptop, a back to school contender is the HP Envy x360 Laptop.

Here are some of the features and customer benefits of the HP Envy x360 Laptops

Windows 10 operating system

Windows 10 brings back the Start Menu from Windows 7 and introduces new features, like the Edge Web browser that lets you markup Web pages on your screen. This is a great feature for taking notes when reading or studying for exams.

HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

Built for Windows Ink

Quickly jot down notes and ideas with ease. My daughters are very much like me in that they get ideas and they need to jot them down immediately before they forget. When inspiration strikes you will always be ready.

Full HD touchscreen

The 1920 x 1080 resolution boasts impressive color and clarity. Natural finger-touch navigation makes the most of Windows 10. IPS technology for wide viewing angles. Energy-efficient WLED backlight. This is so nice for my girls. They are very tactile and they are so comfortable with touchscreen usage from their phones.

8GB system memory for advanced multitasking

Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run your games and photo- and video-editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once. Perfect for those of us who keep a minimum of 13 tabs open at all times.

HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

360° flip-and-fold design

Offers versatile functionality with laptop, audience, tabletop, presentation and tablet modes. This is one of my favorite features of the HP Envy x360. I feel like this versatility makes it easy to use anywhere and virtually indestructible, at least much less destructible.

READ ALSO: Back to School Made Easy for Parents

The HP Envy x360 comes with either a 15-inch screen or a 13-inch screen so you have your choice for whatever screen works best for your family and the AMD processors make them fast and thin so you can take them with you anywhere you go!

***Bonus: there is a back to school offer to save $100 on the HP Envy x360 until 7/28.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with CLEAN & CLEAR and #WeAllGrow Latina Network but all opinions about how to make back-to-school easier for your tween/teen are all my own.

Back-to-school is difficult for parents and kids alike. However, for tweens and teens it’s especially hard. They go away for the summer looking one way and chances are they come back looking completely different. Crazy things happen to their bodies and their faces when all those hormones are surging through their bodies.

They leave school in the spring looking like a kid and return in the fall with a growth spurt, a voice that’s changing, a body that is metamorphosing so much that not even they recognize themselves in the mirror and probably some skin issues. It’s a crazy time of year for so many reasons.

As we prepare to go back to school and get back into our routines, there is a lot of stress. Not just the regular back to school shopping for clothes and supplies but when your child is a tween/teen you have to include shopping to address your child’s skin concerns.

My daughter is 12-years-old and she is changing so fast that I hardly recognize her from one day to the next. That is no exaggeration. Growing from a child into a young lady is hard work. There are so many things going on inside and out that I want to make this time of transition as smooth and easy as possible so I try to help her navigate this time of her life with the least amount of stress and confusion.

Her skin has begun to suffer the effects of the hormonal changes. I don’t think it’s fair that she has to deal with acne on top of all the other changes so I started teaching her how to take care of her skin when she was about 10-years-old, the same age that her little sister is now.

We’ve tried all sorts of different regimens but nothing seems to work. She doesn’t have bad skin per se but she is getting a few small pimples. She’s an athlete; a dancer who performs 6 days a week. Part of dancing is dressing the part and that includes stage makeup which is terrible for her skin. She’s been having breakouts and she is not loving it at all.

 

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

 

Recently, we started using Clean and Clear Morning Burst Facial Cleanser, Deep Action Scrub and Deep Action 60 sec shower mask. They are easy to use and the simple to follow instructions make it easy for my tween to stick to her skin cleansing routine.

 

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

The CLEAN & CLEAR® Morning Burst® Facial is a unique gel cleanser specifically formulated with effective cleansers and vitamin-enriched BURSTING BEADS® to awaken skin. Cleansers gently remove dirt, oil, and impurities, while BURSTING BEADS® with vitamins gently dissolve as you lather to help revive and awaken skin’s look.

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

Steps for Using product

  • Start with clean hands.
  • Use those clean hands to splash water on your face.
  • Squeeze a small amount of cleanser onto wet palms – a dime-size should do it.
  • Work into a lather. Place the now foamy cleanser onto your face and use your fingertips to gently swirl it around…circles, figure eights…that type of thing.
  • Feel the BURSTING BEADS® start to break apart. Oooh…
  • Rinse your face thoroughly then pat it dry with a towel.

 

CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action 60 Second Shower Face Mask is designed to work with the steam of your shower to deeply, but gently exfoliate away traces of dirt, oil and dead skin that can clog pores. You’ll be able to feel the deep clean as the tingling sensation builds, and in just 60 seconds, your skin will look brighter, healthy, and feel refreshed!

Directions: Wet your face then squeeze out a quarter-sized amount of the mask onto your palms.

  • Apply to mask evenly all over your face.
  • Now the important part: Let the mask sit on your face for 60 seconds… feel free to multi-task during this time.
  • After the quick 60 seconds is up, gently massage your whole face as you rinse thoroughly off.
  • If you get some in your eyes, no need to panic, just rinse your peepers with water.
  • Use 2-3 times per week alone or right after your favorite cleanser

CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub is designed to invigorate skin by cleansing pores deep down and gently exfoliating surface skin. The CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub provides a tingly, cooling sensation as you gently massage the scrub on skin — the unmistakable, revitalizing feeling of a deep cleansing action.

Directions:

Wet face. Gently massage all over face, avoiding eye area. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Good for daily use.

How do you make back-to-school easier for your tween/teen?

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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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back to school, first day of school, parenting, girls, letting go

Back to school was not Xanax inducing here. Not this year anyways. Today was the first day of school for my girls. It feels much too early in the summer. It’s the first summer that I wasn’t either ecstatic or sobbing to be left alone. This morning was a peaceful, easy morning.

The girls are at the age where they can do things on their own. They were up and ready before me. They were excited. I was thrilled. Morning drop off went off without a hitch. Completely different from last year’s back to school mental breakdowns.

I walked them in, dropped off supplies and introduced myself to their teachers and left with a kiss goodbye and a hug of appreciation instead of desperation. It was bitter sweet.On one hand, my oldest “baby” is in 6th grade. That’s middle school? How did this happen? I swear I just dropped her off in the kindergarten hallway of death.

I returned home with hot coffee in hand and sat in peaceful quietness in a clean house. Then it happened. I missed my children. As much as we’ve been inseparable this summer, I didn’t think it was even possible.

Back to school is getting easier for them and harder for me.

I missed my tween sleepily walking into the room midmorning only to collapse by my side and snuggle into me as she did all summer. I missed my little one sauntering in with her bedhead and sidling up on the other side of me, kissing me good morning and laying with her feet under my hip as she read a book or watched a show on her iPod. I missed it all. I even missed the tiny voices constantly asking to go to the pool. I just need a few more days; a few more years. 18 years can’t hold all of this love.

Mostly, I missed the fact that those moments are gone for another summer and every summer is one summer closer to no more summers under the same roof. That rips my heart out. I don’t know how to not hate that. I want to consume and digest every moment in tiny bits so that it doesn’t overwhelm me but motherhood is all consuming and, for me, completely overwhelming in the best possible ways.

back to school, first day of school, parenting, girls, letting go

At pick up the car was filled with excited voices telling me how excited they were about the upcoming school year. They were thrilled to connect with old friends and excitedly told me of new ones. Both proclaiming that this is going to be the best school year ever. Both thrilled with their assigned teachers. These moments make my heart happy but I feel the pull away like the slow separation of a Band-Aid from a forgotten wound. It aches beneath the surface like a fresh bruise to my heart.

Our schedule is hectic and crazy and heads into full force next Monday so I plan to wring every single ounce of freedom and togetherness out of our last weekend before the obligatory chaos takes over. I have to believe every second counts and every day is a chance for a new beginning. That has to get me through the letting go.

As we head into this new year of school, I am full of pride. My babies are becoming such phenomenal young ladies. This only makes me want to cleave to them tighter but I loosen my grip because they are not mine at all. They are their own. I am just the blessed woman who got to bring them into the world and gets to spend a little time showing them the way to live in this crazy world. I just hope that I’m doing it right.

How do you deal with the quiet moments of letting go that come with back to school?

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back to me, taking care of yourself, back-to-school, me time, time for yourself, the cure for mom brain

Summer was insane around here, packed full of traveling and the making of all the fun childhood memories but now it’s time to get back to me. It was awesome for the girls and us too. I love having them home but for me it was a little bit of the summer of Mom Interrupted.

My house looked like a cyclone hit it at all times. Getting work done felt like a covert opp because I was doing it after they went to bed, before they woke up and sneaking away for quiet moments at my keyboard while they were occupied with the Big Guy outside; all the while my heart was longing to be outside with them enjoying it. The mommy guilt was strong with me this summer, even though I was putting most things aside to be in the moment. It just never felt like enough.

I’ve noticed the older they get, the faster the summers go and more and more often I feel myself being torn between being their mom, his wife and my own person. I want to be happy and to be happy; those three components need to coexist in harmony. I need to be there for them but I definitely need to be here for me too. When the balance gets out of whack, my entire universe starts spinning off its axis. The truth is that one thing fuels the other and makes it better.

But how do I be there for them and still get back to me?

Being a good wife means a happy marriage, which means a stable, happy home for my children but none of that is possible if I am not happy with myself. So I have these three balls in the air at all times; my career, my daughters and my husband. Usually it is easy, I mean these are my priorities so 3 priorities are perfect until anything unexpected or extra comes up (which has been happening all summer) and then all the balls start dropping and I am jumping around like a mad woman trying to catch them before they hit the floor and shatter because obviously in my mind my balls are fragile. But my balls are strong; they are made of rubber. Anyways, enough about comparing my family to balls. The point is they are more resilient than I give them credit for and so am I.

But school has started back and I am writing in quiet from the hours of 8-2:30 and our routine is hectic but it’s manageable because we work together as a family to function smoothly. Sure there are hiccups but with everyone being flexible and having our priorities, life is easier. The thing that really keeps all the balls in the air is recognizing when one of us needs a break from the juggling or needs some extra TLC.

Every so often when things at the office get a little too hectic or my husband has a big project due, we all recognize that he might need a little more time to play Call of Duty and kill some zombies to decompress so I ask him to do less around the house during that time. Sometimes the kids get overwhelmed with homework and extracurricular activities, especially when they have performances or big tests coming up and that’s when they get extra cuddles, more understanding and maybe a pass on chores. And sometimes, I really need a day of quiet, to sleep in or just someone else to juggle all the balls for awhile because my arms are exhausted and this is when my family steps in and takes over; back-to-school is one of those times of year.

The girls are excited and anxious about starting a new school year with new teachers and new friends but at the same time, I am juggling all the balls and about 20 more and after a summer with just throwing balls and letting them fall where they may, this is near impossible and very stressful. I am in desperate need of a girl’s weekend in Chicago, a week at the beach or just a spa day.

Who am I kidding, I would settle for a day of no obligations; sleeping through the night without any interruptions and waking up on my own, a hot, relaxing bath, take out, no kids bickering and a back massage by the Big Guy. That sounds just about like perfection to me.

What’s your idea of the perfect back to me day?

 

Disclosure: I am a Wayfair ambassador but all opinions about how I get back to me are my own.

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parental survival tips, back-to-school, first day of school, nerves, moody judy

The first day back-to-school is today and yesterday my girls lost their minds. I never noticed this phenomenon before. Nerves are to be expected at back-to-school but full-on crazy was never part of the deal! Maybe it’s a tween thing or maybe I’m just noticing it but yesterday was the worst. Forget about my worries of avoiding the kindergarten hallway of death with mother’s strewn on the floor collapsed in puddles of snot and tears. Today, back-to-school can kiss my grits! Now, I know why all the parents in the 3rd-5th-grade hall just carry in paper goods like pack mules and never look back. No photos, no kisses or have a good day, just lots of knowing nods and exhaustion.

The tween has gone completely bipolar on me (and you know I don’t use this term lightly, takes one to know one and wow! She’s making my head spin) one second she’s smiling and hugging on me, cuddling in for dear life and the next, she is rolling her eyes so hard that I think she might have sprained something and crying, sobbing over boots that she begged for….that I bought. I thought that was a good thing. NO! I was dead freaking wrong because in tween brain that means I bought her stupid boots that she can’t even wear over her pants, with her skirts or until NOVEMBER! I’m such a horrible mom.

But she asked for them. Tough shit lady, you should have known better. Then she begins sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of the Target. As I’m ready to check out and on the cell phone with my sister, like one of those assholes who doesn’t give a shit about other people’s hearing space, talking her off a ledge about the details of her upcoming wedding, the 10-year-old is throwing a full-on tantrum because I’m not buying all of the volleyball shorts and athletic t-shirts.

Why am I being so evil? Because I don’t think its pertinent to buy these things when 1) she hasn’t made the team yet 2) we are still trying to figure out how she is going to fit 5 ballet classes, 2 robotics team meetings, violin, cheerleading practice and games and MAYBE volleyball into the schedule. Did I mention that 5th grade is a clusterf*ck? Be afraid, be very afraid. It’s the year of everything and ballet has decided that this is the year that my kid needs to decide to dedicate her life to it. She’s 10!!!!!! But more about that later.

The 8-year-old has been sneaking into my bed every night for the past 5 days under the guise of a “stomach ache” that mysteriously disappears the moment her head hits my pillow. It’s all  nerves induced by back-to-school. I give her this because I get it but it’s school, not war! And in the past week, I have gotten next to zero accomplished because of making all the moments of summer count and all that jazz. It’s like every year the week before back-to-school, my girls try to climb back into the womb and at 4’8″ and 5’1″, they just don’t fit anymore but that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Between my children going completely insane, recovering from travel and impending travel, planning a bridal shower, a bachelorette party, being the maid of honor, while squeezing in a press trip, deadlines and oh yeah, did I mention trying to coordinate the most insane extracurricular schedule ever…I am feeling less crying about missing my babies today and more hell, yeah, finally some quiet time to work…in my house…alone…without the white noise of constant girl bickering.

Don’t get me wrong, I left drop off this year, just like every year before, missing my little girls. But this year, we all need some quiet alone time. The years are rushing by at warp speed and we just need some time to decompress from all the excitement and growing up. It’s stressful but at the same time, it’s exciting for all of us.

back-to-school, first day of school, nerves, moody judy, parental survival tips

Is it wrong that I want to throw a one woman dance party followed by complete silence to celebrate back-to-school?

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How to Survive Back-to-School Shopping with Your Sanity in Tact

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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