Contributed by Katie Bugbee, managing editor of Care.com
As a parent sending two kids to school this fall, the new back-to-school ad campaigns seem to give me more anxiety now than they did when I was the one attending classes. My kids are only in preschool, but as a working mom, the new school year doesn’t give me a sigh of relief. Instead, it’s more work on my plate.
Forget January. This back-to-school season calls for some parenting resolutions. Perhaps one of these will help me (and you) be less of a stress-case.
We hear this all the time, but do we listen? It’s not like I’m going to let my kid show up with the lunch he made himself (a pudding cup and fruit roll up!), but teaching more responsibility is good. For example, with homework, you create the schedule, they fill in the blanks. For my guys who can’t read yet, I created a chart that uses images for all the things they need to do by themselves before they can come downstairs.
How scary and frustrating it can be to watch kids learn something that comes so easily to us — like writing their letters or learning basic math! I need to learn to praise my kids for trying, especially because their writing looks like they did it drunk and blindfolded.
I'll try not to prove that working moms can help just as much as SAHMs. It’s that mom-guilt that always hits most at back-to-school time — especially when there are committee sign-up forms. “Of course I can do this too,” I think to myself as I sign my name, but I’m always too zapped. Let's be honest, my kids won’t care if I'm on the holiday party committee or not, but if they need some dish bought at the store? I can do that — even better if I can use Amazon Prime and have it dropped off.
I admit it — teachers still scare me. I usually just smile and wave. It doesn’t help that I can’t remember their names. My kids’ rooms have two different teachers and I always mix them up. This year, I’ll introduce myself and actually try to have a conversation with them online or off. My son was going through some behavior issues at home last year and it was nice to partner with his teacher to work through it. I’ll remember to think of teachers as advocates.
It’s easy for us over-achieving parents to look at a particular stage our kids are going through and wonder, “What does this mean for her future?” But a stage is usually just that — a temporary thing. So from now on, I’ll enjoy the great moments while we’re having them... and not focus on the fact that my daughter’s defiant behavior will guide her into law (possibly on the other side of it) and my son’s wise-cracking makes him bound for a career in potty-mouth comedy.
With two kids who have varied interests, my nanny often spends her afternoons shuttling them around to play dates and activities. Drop-off play dates have been a lifesaver for her to get one-on-one time with each kid. This year, I’ll learn from the pro (my nanny!) and do more leaning on other parents too.
If my kid is feeling behind or lost in a sport or a subject, I’ll step in early. But not me, physically. It’s best if they learn from someone they can’t whine or cry in front of. I’ll hire someone to give them that extra boost. Maybe even our smart, athletic teen neighbor who they idolize.
I once talked to a mom who said the teacher asked her to stop correcting her son’s homework. The teacher wanted to learn what the kid’s trouble-spots were, so she could address them. Once my kids actually get homework, this will be very hard for me. But the teacher can’t do her job if I’m helping him earn all As (or Bs if he’s lucky!).
It’s important to remind myself to have fun and enjoy these years — both mine and theirs. I'll take time to meet the new parents from their classes and plan a night out. I'll go out with my husband and avoid all kid topics. If I’m having fun, I might stick to more of these relaxed resolutions!
What are your back-to-school resolutions? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you vow to do differently this year!
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