As an educator I always love the start of the school year the same way one relishes in the possibilities at New Year's. There is something about starting anew, setting goals, and having an open canvas to create memories that motivates. It is watching the excitement in young children as they anticipate the many firsts that will happen at their "new school" that takes me back to a place where living in the moment is the only way of life and the simplest of joys are found in every day experiences.
While I have been an educator and worked with families for fifteen years, I have only been on the parenting side of the table for a third of that time. This school year I look ahead to the upcoming adventures of sending my older to kindergarten and younger into his first year of preschool with more nostalgia than one might expect. You see, the educator and school administrator in me knows that in the blink of an eye these two amazing little people will be entering high school as young adults far too quickly. It is in this mindset that I think about the goals I have for the upcoming school year and how I plan to make the most of every adventure along the way.
The school year is busy and hectic, full of deadlines and events that keep families running from one place to another and constantly planning for the next upcoming commitment. Planning dinner, household or work logistics, and the organization of getting multiple children to and from school or a practice become all-consuming at times. This year I plan to slow down, be in the moment, and be more forgiving of my ability to "do it all." Taking time to truly be there with my children, listen to each and every story, to play, and take in every part of this crazy time in my life is much more important than worrying about being on time or if we can fit it all into the day.
Young children can struggle to adapt to new environments or new social situations and in these moments I plan to refrain from placing a focus on what is not happening and emphasize what is unfolding in front of me. This year I will accept each transition for what it is...a transition. Our children need our support in different ways at different times and my goal will be to truly listen to their needs and guide them as best I can in each part of the journey. There are a number of important skills and life-lessons that come out of each hurdle and my focus will be on how we accomplish the goal, not on the ways the goal has yet to be achieved.
A few years ago a former colleague expressed in conversation that sending her child out into the world (and in this instance specifically into school) was like "having your own beating heart walking around outside of your body and exposed to the world." I didn't fully understand the magnitude of this description until sending my oldest son to preschool for the first time two years ago. This year, as I send two of my beating hearts off into the world, I will also navigate the nuances of managing severe food-allergies and entrusting the care of my highly allergic son to other adults. It is easy to consume ourselves with concern over what will happen while our children are away from us, yet this year I will remember to breath and no matter how challenging something may feel in the moment know that there is always a solution.
As parents we are constantly learning with our children and I know this school year will be our best one yet! While I wait for the school year to begin my plan is to "party like it's 1999," enjoying every moment left of summer. After all, every "new year" deserves a great party to kick things off!
*This post appears on the TODAY Parenting Team community as part of the "Back to School'" Challenge*
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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