It’s back to school season and although this is the first time in thirty years that I don’t actually have a first day of school (after teaching for eight years, I’m trying the stay-at-home mom gig!), I can’t help but get caught up in the excitement and anticipation. But, I am new at this whole school traditions thing. And in the world of posing, posting, and Pinterest, I am way out of my league.
Picture me at the end of last school year. My 3-year-old son was concluding his time with Miss Ann, our dearest friend who had watched him since he was 12 weeks old. After I made the irreversible mistake of going onto Pinterest late one evening, I found myself digging through Declan’s bookshelves by the light of my phone. I was looking, of course, for none other than Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss’ old classic that has more recently been propelled to the forefront of graduation gifts. As a teacher, I have signed countless copies for students that will then be passed on to future teachers and eventually gifted to the child when he or she graduates.
Why then had I not begun to prepare adequately for my own child??
When my husband found me frantically searching through my then six-month-old’s room for a book, I realized I had perhaps taken the tradition thing a bit too far. Now, traditions are great. They can actually really help our kids feel secure in their family identity, especially around holidays and yearly rituals like going back to school. But to risk waking a sleeping infant? Well, that might have been a bit much.
I decided several things that night that I hope will help me (and maybe you!) think through the tradition choosing more carefully this year. And remember, it’s never too late to start!
1- Start with what you know. I stressed myself out because I felt like if I couldn’t do it all, I shouldn’t do anything. But don’t get so overwhelmed that you miss the fun in commemorating a special day! Think about what you value in your family and what you’re good at. Then run with it!
2- Don’t be afraid to check out new ideas. Better yet, don’t get overwhelmed by different ideas. Pinterest has great ideas, ranging from adorable signs and backpack poses, to teacher gifts and happy back to school songs. What are you good at? If your love language is gifts, you and your child can prepare simple first day of school gifts for your teacher. Let me tell you from experience, you’re getting an ‘A.’ (Just kidding. We don’t even have grades any more!) If you’re a bookworm, choose a book that your child’s teacher can sign and pass on from year to year. Photography your cup of tea? Choose a fun pose for your child to start a tradition of growth each year.
Jessica’s family celebrates by making a cake with the new grade level on it. Jen rings in the new year by taking a picture with the class of 20- shirt on the first day of every year.
3 – Move forward with a plan. It’s not too late to start something new or change it up according to your kiddo’s interests. Nothing needs to be permanent, praise the Lord for that- as my 3 year old insists that his first tattoo will be Spider-Man. On my back, Mom. The key is to keep it fresh and interesting, so your child will enjoy this tradition, too! Because let’s face it- freshly sharpened pencils and new school clothes don’t exactly trump summer days in the sunshine. We want to be excited about the new season we are entering, not annoyed by one more item on the checklist.
We finally landed on having teachers sign You Are Special by Max Lucado for Declan, and are now ready and excited for this new year to start. And isn’t life just that? Just the right amount of excitement about what tomorrow might bring without flying through today! Whether you are the type to celebrate back to school with intricately created photo booth props, or the one who takes a pic two weeks late or not at all, think this year about what a meaningful tradition might be for your family to start. So strap on the backpacks, lace up your PF flyers, and say cheese… cuz FY 18-19 is going to be a great one!