Back to school advice from a seasoned parent

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

I found myself home alone for the first time in decades. My oldest daughter bought a home of her own. My youngest daughter moved to Columbus. My middle daughter now has an apartment close to where she teaches and my four international students have flown the coop. Since I am considered by many to be a nurturer who delights in feeding anyone with a pulse, people were concerned. At first it was difficult to adjust to finding the remote right where I left it, not having to write “Property of MOM” on everything from facial wash to dark chocolate almonds and having to find another way to exercise besides climbing “mount laundry.” I tried to focus on the positives of my “new normal.” I swore I would not become a woman who ate Lucky Charms for dinner during a Netflix binge-watching session surrounded by cats. OK, so I did become a binge watcher but I’m sticking with my Golden Retriever and adjusting quite well, at least I was until the back-to-school season rolled in.
Do I miss frantically searching the shelves at Target for the specified items that every parent seemed to already have in his/her cart? NO. I do, however, miss the excitement of new teachers, friends and sharpened pencils. There is an abundance of eye rolling that occurs when you tell parents that they will miss the back-to-school mayhem but when your nest is vacant, you find yourself longing to search for matching socks, missing lunchboxes and the Olympic-like event of lunging for the last remaining box of Kleenex to bring an end to the supply shopping. Since I am no longer part of the fall frenzy, I offer some advice for parents as a “seasoned” parent.
Find an Anal-Retentive Mom ASAP
You know who to look for; the perfectly dressed, manicured, organized person that continually shares cute ideas and inspirations she found on Pinterest—and actually has tried a few. She will be your “go-to” person for important school dates and information and will provide a crisp,
clean copy of a needed permission slip
when you find your kid’s crumpled in
the bottom of their book bag.
Let Them Do It Themselves
No matter how tempting, let your child complete school projects on their own. When you see the wooden board with drilled holes filled with synchronized lights depicting the constellation “Andromeda” made by the youth whose father HAPPENS to be an engineer—let it go. The neon
yellow, spray-painted orb hanging from
a coat hanger with stars made of glitter
glue is far more impressive because
it was created independently.

Encourage Physical Activity
My parents’ philosophy of “wear ‘em out” is timeless. Encourage your kids to get involved and participate in a sport or recreation club. I realize that the sport’s medical forms from the past were single page documents designed to confirm students were able to fog a mirror. The concussion-conscious, 16-page form of today (where you will need to recall your family’s health history going back three generations), endless carpooling and having to sit countless hours on aluminum seats is worth the effort.
Easy Come Easy Go
Realize that the first month of school will cause your Visa to tremble. There will be times when you feel as if you have to take out a second mortgage or sell off a body part to pay for the required TI84 calculator. The finances will recover–in about a decade or so.
Keep Calm and Parent On
P.J. Rourke once said, “Everyone knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.” Remember to keep your sense of humor. Keep in mind that even the parents who arrive on snack day with a tray of healthy goodies resembling the marine life that is being studied in science class have the same fears and doubts about their parenting capabilities as you who arrived with a box of Pop Tarts. Above all, remember that one day you could find yourself in a big house as an “empty nester.”
Enjoy every messy, complicated and chaotic moment.

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