Well, it’s that time of year again. The hot and steamy wasteland of August is finally coming to an end. My kids are sufficiently packed, prepped and waiting anxiously for their meet-the-teacher Open House.
It’s also that time where I take stock of our Summer. Did we do everything we talked about? Did we connect, rest and have fun? I hope so. I experience every emotion the week before my kids go back to school. I have butterflies, (will they have friends in their class?) anxieties, (will Amelia be okay at the peanut-free lunch table?) and hopeful anticipation (will the teacher get her?).
And all of this is mixed with my own feelings of inadequacy and a sufficient dose of Mom guilt. Can you relate? If this sounds like you at all, here are five steps I’ve been using to shed that guilt. We could all use less guilt and more grace this school year.
5 Steps for Easing Back into School with Less Guilt and More Grace:
Step 1: LEAVE IT UNFINISHED.
Lots of things are left undone on the Bucket List we diligently crafted in June. June Mom was do-all-the-things! But August Mom.Is.Tired. And that’s okay.
Circle one or two things from that big, dreamy bucket list and shelf them for next year. OR, better yet, let’s work them into our Fall or Winter Break calendar. If you didn’t make it to the water park, maybe head to the carnival when it’s in town. Swap that Summer specific item for something that can work in a later season.
We are not machines, we cannot (and should not) make EVERYTHING happen when we want it to happen. Give yourself grace on what’s left undone.
Step 2: LET IT BE A MESS. OR DON’T.
There’s a strong chance at this point of Summer Vacation that your house looks like a bomb went off. Repeat after me: It’s fine. It’s all going to be fine.
Eventually, the legos will be cleared off the dining room table and your kitchen will smell like citrus cleaning spray instead of moldy pool towels.
You’ll get there. Let the mess linger for just a bit longer. If it’s really making you crazy, then mandate Summer-Clean-Up day with the kids. Reward with popsicles, screen time or a pool afternoon.
Ultimately, do whatever you need to do to feel like a person. It’s going to be fine.
Step 3: FEEL YOUR FEELINGS.
You may feel simultaneously gleeful and broken-hearted about another Summer ending. We have the capacity to feel both. Do not be shamed by the threat-like reminder of “We only have 18 Summers with our kids!”. Don’t let that guilt determine how you go through your days. We can be excited for the space and time again, but also wish we could hold on to that freedom and fun a bit longer. Motherhood is full of grey space and randomly crying for no reason. If you start to get worked up, see Step 1.
Step 4: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.
If you’re staring down a shopping or to-do list a mile long (been there), fear not. It’ll all get done…eventually. It just might not happen this week. Some of these loose ends might not be figured out until September. If at all.
Buy the notebooks, do the things, but let go of everything being perfectly ready for school on day one. Inevitably, they’ll come home with another list or assignment that you missed or couldn’t anticipate. Do what you can do and let go of the rest. Remember, done is better than perfect.
Step 5: PLAN YOUR DAY ONE.
Plan your Day One now. Nope, not for the kids. You. How will you mark the the first day of school? Will you park it in front of Netflix for an hour or swing thru the Starbucks lane? It’s a big deal for the kids, but also for you. It’s the ending of a season and the start of something new. Take a moment to notice your feelings, mark the day and treat yourself.
I’m cheering you on! Happy First Day, Momma.