In August of 1978, I was ten years old. My new uniforms, crisp white shirts, and brown loafers sat in the closet waiting to be worn.
I must’ve checked my bag 500 times to be sure my list documenting the 42 or so books I’d read over the summer was ready.
My mother had allowed me to buy the new Chocolate Soup Swedish messenger bag I’d been coveting, a dozen yellow number 2s, and a composition notebook.
I had no idea who my teacher would be; I’d find out when I arrived at school.
Fast forward to August of 2017, nearly 40 years later.
My kids barely read this summer, so there wasn’t much point in documentation.
They say they like their summer clothes for the first day of school and that their old LL Bean backpacks still seem new. They already know who their teachers will be. The excitement, it seems, is nonexistent.
But, really, for me, there is this pressure. Each school year seems to bring with it a shift in parenting responsibilities and my children’s needs.
So this year, I’ve armed myself with this:
5 ideas to make the new year a positive experience for all of us
1 – Don’t be disappointed
My kids do not do things the way I want them to be done. There I’ve said it and now, as my therapist has promised, I can let it go.
If I know they will want to do school their way, I will not be disappointed when they don’t come home thrilled that they get to read a book every week and write about it. But that won’t stop me from hoping they’ll let me read the books with them.
2 – Buy exactly what’s on the required supply list
I will not hem and haw this year over every single item on that list, wondering if it will last the year. Remembering that many of the items I purchase will be lost or destroyed. My kids don’t need to have the prettiest, best school supplies on the block. No one will notice. For real.
3 – Make a list of morning tasks
There has never been a morning when my kids have woken up on their own, gotten dressed, brushed their teeth, come down to breakfast, and had an already packed backpack by the door.
This year will be different! I have purchased alarm clocks for both kids and taken the time to make a checklist with them that covers all morning tasks. The list will be in their bedrooms and in the kitchen, mostly so they don’t complain every time I ask them to check the list and they remember it’s still upstairs.
4- Model what you’d like to see
I am a model of an active learner and an organized person. I remind my kids to go after their curiosities and to think about making lists.
This year, I will not do that stuff for them so that they will start to do it for themselves. I want them to feel the joy of discovering that they can take care of themselves and ask questions to make things more clear.
5 – Have gratitude for life
I will remember to be grateful for the kids I am allowed to raise each day. Through the bickering and hysteria, I want to remember their quirky personalities that made me laugh all summer. I’m also hoping to take the time to point out the things I see that they might enjoy.
Childhood memories affect us like no other memories. Mine may be of books and reading and shiny loafers, but they are no more or less important than the memories my children will have of different things that they will deem important enough to share with their college roommates and potential life partners.
And let’s not forget our parenthood memories. We have the power to make them feel great or always feel like we missed the mark.
You be you and let them be them.
Featured image credit: giloudim
Author: Kimberley Moran
Kimberley Moran is a mother, a parenting expert, an educator, and the author of Hacking Parenthood: 10 Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting. You can find her on Twitter (@kimberleymoran), and on her blog (kimberleygmoran.blogspot.com/). To join in the hacking parenthood conversation check out #parentmantras on Twitter.