All year long, you dream of summer: lawn sprinklers, trampolines, ice pops and fireworks. Of the adventures your family will have. And then you blink, and it's that time again: back-to-school.
And while "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" might indeed play in your head on repeat as you think of the kid-free hours you’re about to enjoy, back-to-school time can also be incredibly stressful — for kids and adults alike. It means no more sleeping through alarms or wearing swimsuits as acceptable public clothing. It means nervousness about a new year of tests and quizzes, meeting new teachers and new first impressions.
But not everything has to be new; we’ve rounded up five back-to-school traditions that will ease any anxiety your kids may have, earn you instant best-parent-ever status, and make the first day of school the best day of the year.
For those of you who love a good party, why not have a little get together with your child and a few of their closest friends the night before the first day of school? Make simple decor with brown paper bags and chalk, serve milk and cookies and give them a goodie bag of fresh pencils and some fun erasers. Maybe even dig out some educational films from eons past or outdated Bill Nye episodes (Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, Bill.) A back-to-school party is a quick and easy way to celebrate the start of school and the end of summer, and bonus: You know it will end early because there’s school in the morning.
Decorate the car
Nothing says, "I have arrived," like pulling up to school in a car decked to the nines. Grab some window markers, fill the cab with balloons, wrap a boa around the antennae and blast your kid's favorite triumphant '90s pop song. If you really want to go the extra mile, pull out last year’s Halloween costume and pop it on for the ride to school. You won’t be getting out of the car, so you’ll still save a shred of your dignity, and you’ll be the talk of the drop-off line, I promise.
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Me & you
If your child is nervous about their first day of school, a sweet tradition is buying something for you both to wear, either a tiny Mommy-and-me bracelet or a bandanna tucked in their backpack. Something they can look at and know that you have the exact same thing on your person at that exact moment. It might not be a tradition you’ll need to do forever (somehow, I think once they get to high school, mommy-and-me anything might go out the window, except maybe mommy and me tattoos, but that’s another story), but it’s a really adorable way to ease their nerves in the meantime.
Instead of the traditional picture on the first day of school, try this twist on the classic: Buy a large "Class of…" T-shirt and take a picture of your child wearing it on the first day of school each year. As they grow up and the shirt fits better and better, it’ll be a nice reminder of how far they’ve come (and how tiny they once were!). Paint their hand and make a handprint in fabric paint on the back of the shirt each year for an added visual timeline. Plus, when they go to college *sob*, it’ll be a perfect keepsake for you to sleep with every nigh… *ahem* I mean, for you to put on a shelf and look at occasionally.
‘Twas the night before the first day of school, and all through the kitchen, the children were baking crayon cupcakes that were bitchin'. All right, all right, but baking these crayon cupcakes is a genuinely great activity to do with them before school starts and make the perfect first-day-of-school after-school snack. If you’re looking for some brownie points from the get go, maybe have your child deliver one of these delicious goodies to their teacher. Just make sure if you have any really little ones, they do not eat the crayon. Because they will have rainbow poop. Just trust me on this one.