Here we are squeezing out the final drops of summer as the sun sets on this season.Can you almost hear John Travolta and Olivia Newton John singing “Those summer, niiiiiiiiiiiihiiiiiiiiights?”
Now we transition.
In past years, I’ve written blogs during this time about going back to school, picking up our routine again, rediscovering our own freedom.
Traditionally this was a time of stress, sure, but also of celebration! Parents would wipe away their first-day tears and then break out in dance on their way home or off to work.
Things are obviously so different this time around. Yes, it’s back-to-school season, but it’s nothing like the picture-perfect parade to school: new backpacks on new, freshly cut hair, leaves beginning to drop from the trees. It feels more like a procession of overgrown COVID curls, walking the plank off into a sea of the unknown.
If you’ve got school-age kids, you are probably feeling a mix of elation by the possibility that the kids may actually leave the house for two days, along with terror of the possibility of them hobnobbing closely with a million other kids, no matter HOW many regulations are put into place.
If you’ve got a baby, you’re probably staying up at night weighing your options— do you keep the baby home all day while you work, or do you send them to a daycare with other possibly Corona-bearing babies?Or should you bring in a nanny who might have to travel on the potentially COVID-y subway to and from your house?
Sure, we have options, but none of them look great from here.
But in all the unknowns, there are two things we do know:
- Our time is up. No more debating or hemming and hawing—the transition is HERE.
- We’ll put one foot in front of the otherand figure it out as we go.
We all know our kids crave some routine. They seem to fall in line when we manage to hold it together. In the past, school helped out with that. This year, it’s on us. And although we can also cut ourselves A LOT of slack in this regard, it will also help to go into this unprecedented year with a game plan.
To help you get through this week, here are 5 ways to help your kids and babies feel some semblance of what September is supposed to look like:
1. Music is your friend. USE IT.
I can ‘t stress this enough. Music is powerful, especially when it comes to calming us and setting routines.
During these next few weeks, use music in these two ways:
To reset routines. Round up your bath time music, your bedtime music, your feeding music. Pull out all the stops. Go full-force . It WILL help you reclaim your routine that might have slipped during summer. Here is a post with more ideas about this and why it works.
To calm everyone down. Precisely in those moments when you feel overloaded, when the kids are bouncing off the walls, when you can’t hear another conflicting message from the DOE, put on a song that will put you all in a good place. Maybe that’s a dance song, maybe it’s classical music, maybe it’s Raffi.
2. Organize the house a bit.
A cluttered space can easily make for a cluttered mind. I’m not saying you need to do a deep clean. But if you have 5 minutes, make a corner for your kid that says “In this spot we think, we create, we respect our surroundings.” Nothing too complicated. Just a clean corner that invites a new page and makes you feel a little peaceful when you look at it.
For your baby, create a “YES area”—a space where everything is allowed and they won’t get into trouble for touching things. A place where they can do their own exploring independently without you needing to monitor their every move or worrying about them getting hurt.
3. Reclaim your bedtime routine
Summer lovin’ throws off all evening routines. Trust me, it happened in my home big time. But it’s time to put actual bedtimes back into place. You know what that means? Beyond knowing what time that will be, it means starting the wind down process waaaaaay earlier than you’d think. The trick to keeping to your bedtime routine is giving yourself and your babies/kids enough time to wind down.
For instance, in our home, summer hours have pushed the kids’ bedtime to 9pm. I am going to do my damndest to move that back at least a half hour this fall. But that means that by 8pm they need to already be IN BED. Once they are in bed they read books, ask for a million things, chat and complain. It usually takes them a half hour to do all that no matter how much I try to minimize it. That means that my reading to them needs to start as early as 7:30, at least until we have this established. (Even as I write this, I’m rolling my eyes at my own suggestion.)
But we CAN do this, people. It takes effort but we know it’s worth it—for their sake and for ours.
4. Schedule playdates
This year, since we are deciding on friend pods ahead of time, it will help to schedule these meetings for the week. That will take a HUGE load off us when our kids ask for it daily. It will also ease our own scheduling hell and give your kids something to look forward to. Find two days a week that your kid will have playdates with their one or two friends.
Try to keep to set times at least for the first month or so. That way you’ll be able to say, “Tomorrow you have your playdate with Katie!,” which will be something positive for them to focus on, especially during the tough transition time.
5. Schedule FaceTime with grandparents
During the summer we did this whenever it felt right. If you’re like us, it probably happened about twice a week with each set. But as we head into the fall things will be a bit more chaotic. We’ll have more to do while our kids might have less to do.
It will help to think of meetings with the grandparents as after-school activities or even school meetings that they do once a week. For instance, my mother reads with my daughter, my mother in law does art with her. If we can get something set on a schedule, I know that my daughter, the grandparents and I will feel much more relaxed knowing the plan.
I want to be able to say, “It’s grandma Wednesday!”
6. Plan your weekly meals
I know you might hate me for even saying this. But if you can actually do some meal-planning, it can take a huge load off. Note: I am not talking about anything gourmet. In our home we’ve got 5-7 meals that we rotate between anyway, so why not have designated nights for them so that the kids can latch onto it and expect it. They love knowing what we’ll be eating ahead of time. I love not thinking about it, and it helps a lot with the shopping too.
At our home our weekly meal plan looks like this:
Monday: Ziti night
Tuesday: Taco night
Wednesday: Spaghetti night
Thursday: Chicken/fish night
Friday: Soup and salad night
Get out of jail free card: Takeout night, for when I just can’t.
For lunches, since my kids will be home all the time, I’ll have a few options which they need to either make for themselves or help with heavily. Those are:
Cream cheese sandwich
Mac and cheese
So there you have it. You now know the full extent of my culinary abilities. What’s your weekly meal plan?
Let’s do this, parents. It’s a strange new school year with all unknowns ahead of us. Our kids may be home with us for the entire year, they may be at daycare/school for a few weeks only or they may be there for a while. (Or, if you’re my family, they will be in the car with you 24/7.)
Regardless, the tiniest bit of routine will save us right now and be the perfect antidote to TRANSITIONITIS and whatever else this crazy time tries to throw at us.
Do you have a strategy for dealing with this year’s extreme case of Transitionitis? Comment below and let me know what it is. I could use some help myself.
Do you have a friend who is biting her nails as she heads into a precacrious fall season? Send her this. Tell her there is more help to come if she signs up for the Tuesday Tune In.
Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!