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Back-to-school

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

Back-to-school school is upon us.

Yesterday morning, I took my girls back-to-school. I know that I should be rejoicing. I thought I might be. This summer has been very busy and trying but instead, I was sad. Sad that another summer is gone and there are so few left before they go off to college. When they are babies and toddlers, each day feels like 72 hours but these years now pass more quickly than I prefer.

The girls are growing up so fast. They are no longer the two little mop top toddlers who I chased with a brush while putting pigtails into their hair. They no longer mismatch their clothes or put shoes on wrong feet. No they are up before me every morning, dressed and waiting for me to curl or straighten their hair while they change earrings and strategically place rainbow loom bracelets up their arms. Suddenly, there are lockers and acceptable and unacceptable types of belts and socks.

They both got back-to-school haircuts and all I can think is where did my children go? I am so proud of the young ladies they are becoming but pump the brakes. I’m still the mom of single digit children, for one more year anyways. I can’t believe I’ve been a mom for almost a decade already. I really am trying to be “cool” and give them space to spread their budding wings but they are still my baby birds and when I see panic, pain or fear it’s my instinct to swoop in and make it all better.

The girls are now 9 and 7, so we don’t have to worry about the dreaded first day of preschool and kindergarten. Those days nearly broke my mommy heart in half. Again this morning, moms were dropping like flies in the kindergarten corridor; collapsing into pools of snot and tears just outside of the doorways. I kept a stiff upper lip and pushed their limp bodies aside as I took my girls to the more “dignified” end of the hallway to second grade. Not really, by second grade we’ve just learned to wear huge sunglasses and wait until we are safely back in the car before we have our breakdown.

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

My 4th grader, while she still wants me to walk her to class, under the guise of being her Clorox wipe and paper towel pack mule, gives me a hug and dismisses me in front of everyone. She has always been the stiff upper lip kid, since preschool. She’ll get watery eyes and a bit of a lip quiver and then she will give me that hug, you know the one that needs to last both of us the entire day, and then she will send me off. Even if she wants to run off after me crying for me to take her home, she will not make waves. She will make do. She gets that from me. It’s awesome, except for when I wish she’d just let go and not stiff upper lip it. I want her to know that she doesn’t always have to be the stoic one and that’s what I am here for; her safe place to land, to carry her when she is too weary to walk and to always, always hold her hand.

 

My 2nd grader however, well, she is a rage against the night, do not go gently, make waves, cry and freak out type. She knows how to make a mama feel needed but she is also my high maintenance, squeaky wheel. This morning, she tried a bit of stiff upper lip on for size. I don’t think it suited her because just before I walked her into her class, she said, “ Mama, my stomach hurts.” This is her go to ailment whenever she is afraid or nervous. While I was unloading her supplies (pack mule) I asked the teacher where to put the supplies. When he answered that the kids were supposed to read the board and follow the directions, I saw the panic and freak strike the heart of my youngest baby bird. She reads but she’s not a “great” reader yet and there were a lot of unrecognizable words on that board so I explained the instructions to her and helped her to put her little heart at ease. I could see that she wanted to cry but instead she unsurely said, “Okay, mommy.”

 

It was time to leave. I could feel her willing me to stay. I could feel my heart being tugged back in her direction. I hugged her and she reciprocated tightly. I assured her that she would be fine and that it was going to be an awesome first day; all while willing those damn watery eyes of my own to stay behind the sunglasses and not reveal themselves to my girl. She gave me a big kiss and whispered, “Mommy, I’m scared!” I looked her in the eye and told her that there was nothing to be afraid of and that I was only a phone call away and more importantly, that I loved her. That seemed to put her at ease and then I left, as she stared a hole into the back of my head; turning back to catch one last unsure smile.  Then I walked out of the room.

 

2 minutes later, I walked back to the doorway to see if she was okay. She was sharpening pencils when she caught a glimpse of me. She ran to me and gave me a kiss and told me she loved me. This time much more enthusiastically. I told her, “See, if you need me, I’m only a phone call away!” And she smiled and dismissed me.

 

I left my second grader in her new class and before I even left the school building, my heart was heavy with all the feelings; the missing, the growing up and the letting go. I freaking hate the letting go.

 

Apparently, back-to-school never gets easier but does the letting go?

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back-to-school, first day, third grade, letting go, growing up

back-to-school, first day of school, letting go,motherhoodThis year, I was prepared to not be the crying pool of snot that I once was, have been, for the past 5 years on the first day of school. Sure, I was prepared to miss my children but what I was not prepared for was to not be missed.

Every year, I get my girls up, we have a special back-to-school breakfast and then I get them dressed in preparation for our 1st day of school annual photo shoot. They endure it. I love it and one day, they will thank me for documenting their childhood so they can share it with their own children. I am not a crazy, mamarazzi, I am performing a public service. Damn it!

Anyways, after the photo shoot we drove to school; 30 minutes early, in preparation for all the crying and don’t go’s (them not me)(well, maybe me a little bit) because, that is how it has always been since kindergarten. That’s the way it is always suppose to be. Moms leave their kids, moms cry, kids cry and then at 3 pm it’s lovapalooza. It rocks but not today. Today, maturity kicked me square in my mommy gut and told tradition to go suck an egg!

The girls were both nervous walking into school, squabbling whose class we would go to first. Obviously, I was dropping off the 3rd grader first because 1) she’s not the one who might throw a tantrum and cry when I try to leave 2) she’s the one who will actually get demerits for being late.

So, me and my 2 girls dressed in their brand spanking new plaid uniforms and sporting the fanciest headbands they could find, because that is the only place they can show any kind of fashion sense whatsoever walk down this new and unknown corridor. Up until now she had been in the same corridor as her little sister. Bravely, we find her classroom. I can feel myself tensing up. I do this every year because like childbirth, I just don’t know how bad the letting go is going to hurt each time.

back-to-school, letting go,motherhood, first day of school

“Here, we are!” I say.

“Great….” She mumbles, her long silky blonde hair falling gracefully into her eyes, as if she is trying to hide from the rest of the class.

We introduce ourselves to the teacher, who I must say was either a bit flushed or put her blush on in the dark because it was looking a bit Mimi-esque. Never mind, I avert my eyes to stop from staring. The same can’t be said for my 6-year-old whispering beneath her breath, “Mom, what’s wrong with Bella’s teacher’s face?”

“Shhhhhh,” I hush her.

Then I notice the entire class is watching and NO.Other.Parents.Are.There!!

FUCK! I can’t be the mom who embarrasses her 3rd grader but, FUCK! I haven’t gotten my goodbye kiss. Someone’s going to have to suck it up. So, I go in for the goodbye kiss and I say bye one last time as my 3rd grader wills me away with her glare. Now, I’ve never had the misfortune of experiencing my child letting go of my hand and running off on the first day but now I know how that must hurt. It appears that this love that my 3rd grader and I share, is now strictly on the down low; never again to see the light of day on school grounds. My eyes misted up and I sauntered off to the K-2 corridor that I’ve made my home for the past 3 years.

These are my people; the weeping mothers of Kindergarteners martyring themselves to release their grip on babyhood and children who appreciate a mom who covers them in kisses and hugs. I love this hallway. This is where I belong.

motherhood, first day of school

My sweet little first grader holds onto my hand for dear life. God, I love that kid. My ego needed that. I walk her into class. I can see the trepidation building in her eyes and I can feel it in her grip on my now turning purple hand.

“Here, we are!” I say.

“Mommy, please stay here!” she whispers.

“I’ll stay for a little while.” And I do but eventually after sweaters are hung, backpacks and gym shoes put away and I’ve settled her at her desk, given her 2000 hugs and kisses and taken as many photos, I give her one last kiss and squeeze and I tell her that I love her and to have a good day. My eyes are filling up, I can feel them burning.

back-to-school, first day of school

“Mommy, don’t go,” she whispers.

I choke out, “I’ll be back in a little bit to pick you up. I love you!”

And she jumps up and wraps her tiny little hands around my neck and hugs me one last hug; the kind of hug that can get a mommy through 7 hours without her children. I reciprocate. We are reassuring one another as much as we are ourselves. Then she sits down and yells after me as I am walking away feeling empty.

“Don’t forget to buy me some good snacks for tomorrow!”

With that, she lets me go and my heart is good. We’ll both be okay.  As I walk away down the hall, past all the weeping mothers of corridor K-2 crumpled in the floor in pools of their own tears and snot, I smile because I’ve got one more year of this corridor and all the hugs and kisses I can ever want and I can cry if I want to. I also know that next time I walk them in we’re going to this hallway first, so I can kiss and hug my girls goodbye properly without the judging eyes of the entire third grade.

Now, I wait til 3 pm for loveapalooza!

back-to-school, first day of school, letting go, growing up, third grade

How was your first day of school? Was the letting go hard or did your child dismiss you?

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