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8 Things I’ll Do Once My Kids Are Back at School

Jen Mallia

It’s time to play a little Things to Do Now That the Kids are Back in School bingo!

More: 7 Things Teachers Want You to Know Before You Send Your Kids Back to School

Do you remember an impossibly long time ago in June? Don’t worry. I’m not asking for specifics. (I’m not a sadist.) I mean, do you remember that general feeling of just barely keeping it together for the last month of school? The school lunches that veered closer and closer into “might be getting a concerned call from the school” territory? Those “just make it through for a few more weeks” deals you made with yourself and your kids in an effort to make it to the prize: summer vacation?

As a work-from-home parent, I recognize I have a lot more flexibility than many. If you are parent who takes your kids to day care, Grandma’s house or a variety of day camps all summer, your summer schedule maybe didn’t look so radically different from what you did during the school year. But you can probably still identify with that start-of-summer feeling: freedom.

For a while, it was glorious.

And then, well, summer happened. Two months of constant demands to “take me somewhere,” “do something,” “change the DVD,” “make him stop kicking me.” Two months of wondering, how are we out of Popsicles again? Who is this kid in the backyard? Has anyone seen the dog? And why is there so much sand in my foyer?

More: Free Printables to Help You Survive Back-to-School Time

I was exhausted. My work piled up. I needed my kids to go back to school. That brink-of-nervous-breakdown I felt in June went on hiatus for July, but by mid-August, she had reared her ugly head. Making lunches and 7 a.m. wake-up calls started to look like symptoms of a well-ordered life, not the impossible demands they had seemed six short weeks before.

Now, we are back to the daily grind, and I’m not going to lie: A part of me, a large part of me, is very happy to have a few golden hours each day to write — and to pull my house back into the very loose semblance of order I usually maintain.

So join with me, if you will, in a little Things to Do Now the Kids are Back in School bingo. First blackout wins.

1. Chip the layers of Popsicle drips off the floor

Even with two months of practice, I still didn’t get into the habit of having the kids put their shoes on before I handed them the Popsicles, resulting in a game of kids balancing on one foot to put shoes on while waving the quickly melting frozen treats around like demented Harry Potter impressionists. Busting up those layers of drips is going to take a jackhammer, I’m afraid.

2. Choke the vacuum with half a playgrounds’ worth of sand

Honest to God, the sand! I encourage my kids to play at playgrounds covered in wood chips or that rubbery foam stuff made from old tires or whatever. I stand with my arms crossed in the doorway, protecting the foyer like the cruelest Shawshank Redemption prison guard, demanding they empty their shoes before they cross the threshold, but still those little grains of horror make their way in.

3. Make & drink a cup of coffee within one hour

I make a cup then get distracted (probably by mountains of sand and requests for Popsicles) or realize I am not going to get through my coffee, so I put the half-finished mug in the fridge, then forget I did that and make another. Eventually, I find the partially finished cups and microwave them back to life. This time of year is time for a new me, though. I am going to make and drink a cup of coffee within one hour. Are you, too, up for this challenge?

4. Fold laundry while catching up on (violent &/or swear-y) TV shows

Sorry, SpongeBob. Mama still hasn’t gotten through Breaking Bad. [Note: No extra points awarded for putting that laundry away. Just let it live on top of the dresser until the kids grow out of the clothes.]

5. Finally recycle all those nasty, broken-down sandals

They were worn every day, in every weather and on every terrain. Face it. They are never going to last another season, and they shouldn’t be in your house for “just in case.” Call your nearest toxic waste disposal and be free of them.

6. De-stickify any three walls

I just want to lean against a wall and not be stuck there by… I’m not sure what, exactly. Gum? Tree sap? Industrial-grade silicone?

7. Track down what that awful smell is

Was there an animal in here? Is it a “treasure” in someone’s pocket? Maybe it was those sandals?

8. Feel a little lost in the quiet…

… and spare a wistful moment for the things I meant to do this summer. (Maybe even miss my kids a little. I know I’m going to eventually.)

More: Why the Tooth Fairy Only Gave My Kid a Quarter

Bonus square

Happily sip an afternoon glass of wine. Three o’clock is coming!

Are you still enjoying the stability of a new academic year’s routine? For now, I am. I mean, of course I’m still trying to cram way too much into too little time. My house is still a mess, and it is just a different version of overwhelmed that I’m feeling, but still. At least this version of overwhelmed is what I’m used to… until I start craving winter break, that is.

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