Back to School Traditions

Somehow, the first night all my children slept in their beds since June 20 was tonight (August 30) - and it's the night before school starts. They had busy, wonderful summers visiting family back east, attending sleepaway camp and spending time with family out west - no complaints. But no time to really transition into a school mindset.

Time constraints forced me to focus - to identify the most important back to school activities:

  • Clothing that fits and is suitable for something other than rags. 
  • School supplies 
  • Dentist, orthodontist - check and check.
  • Haircuts...not crucial.  Not done. 
  • Buy books for summer reading - did this in June. Whew.

My time jam also put the sleep routine at risk. Luckily, our children have a pavlovian response to their own bedrooms - or to the exhaustion of their summer - bedtime was on track, without resistance and should lead to a solid 11+ hours of rest before school starts tomorrow.

Beyond the practical, I fantasize about having back-to-school traditions. Thus far, the tradition is taking a day off from work and spending it with my school-age children doing something. Mini-golf is popular. So is bike riding. And lunch. And I fantasize that this experience opens meaningful discussions about goals and concerns for the upcoming school year.  Realistically, it reinforces that I am a better Mom when I work and spend evenings with my children because my patience for sibling rivalry and bickering is, well, not great. 

Most of the families I know from other schools have already started - we start tomorrow. The kids are excited and the parents look estatic. Our big family tradition is to take a picture outside our house before school on that first day. It's not time consuming and it's never particularly calm, but I do enjoy seeing them over the years.

What's your back-to-school routine and tradition?  Is it for you or your kids?



Please don't stop the music

My music collection, never the edgiest, stopped growing a couple years after I graduated college. There was a sudden influx of new music when my son was born – nursery rhymes, Disney lullabies and other “appropriate music”. As I planned a party for my husband’s birthday, it was very clear that I neither knew any of the fun, cool music nor owned anything later than the early 90s.

It’s not my plan to be one of those parents who complains about my kids’ music. I never really cared if other people liked my music and I don’t need to fake affection for songs in order to fit in with my kids. But I like to dance and sing and I needed to update my music library.

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Device-off time - aka "breakfast"

Today's New York Times technology section highlighted a trend where families find themselves waking their teen's via text, lunging for laptops before and during breakfast, and basically feeling panicked if they cannot check Facebook before 7am.  This is not progress.  And this is setting up our kids to be stressed out and potentially very lonely.  There just isn't a device that can give a hug, celebrate achievements or wipe away a tear.

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Summer Bliss - top ten things we're loving about summer

With the new school year looming, I can’t help but think about how much easier life has been over the summer.

1st – Camp is longer than Kindergarten. As of the 1st day of camp, I’ve had an extra 2 hours/day to get things done.

2nd – In some sick way, creating crazy car pools to get all of the kids where they need to be is challenging, but the sense of accomplishment is there too.

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Amber Alert, Drunk Driving and Hugging my Family

In the New York tri-state, people are horrified learning about a Long Island woman who drove on the wrong side of the Taconic highway (to be clear, there's a large grassy highway divider between the sides) and caused a head-on collision that killed her, her daughter, her three nieces, and three men in the other car.  Today, the news announced she was both drunk and high

Jonathan Fickies for The New York Times

Apparently six drivers called the police prior to the crash to report the wrong-way driving.

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Technologies we love for practical parenting

According to What's Going on in There and Einstein Never Used Flashcards, the very best toy for the development of a child's mind is wood blocks - no technology needed.  But balancing the requirements of work, family and activities is tricky and thankfully there are great technologies that have emerged that let us focus on parenting - and hopefully give us more time to be with the kids.

My top ten favorite enabling technologies for parenting (see them all here in their screen shot glory):

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Why I take the red-eye - business travel and minimizing time away from the kids

My husband and I travel fairly frequently for business. For me, the vast majority of those trips are to New York City. I love the evening hours when I can be with my kids and learn about their days. I especially love tucking them in to bed with sung Sh’ma and longer hugs and kisses.  In almost 8 years, we’ve only had one night where one of us wasn’t home – unless it was on purpose for a couple’s vacation..  Because I love this, my choice for cross-continental travel is the red eye.

The kids don’t like that we travel at all without them. Our middle son, Taylor,

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Self-esteem is not a gift - it cannot be given

Parenting in 2009 is really hard – even my mother says so. Every decision is scrutinized and “what’s best” for the child seems to always be the goal. What ever happened to Winnicott’s notion of a “good-enough mother”? I ask this because there is so much angst in parenting today. What are we worrying about? Why are we trying to make all of the “best” decisions?

It’s all about “self-esteem.” Seems like a good goal, but people are going about it in really strange ways.

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