Back-to-school jitters

by gurumommy on August 25, 2010

in from the desk of

I recently had a chance to sit down and chat with gurumommy’s resident kids cooking expert Abby Kohl, to discuss back-to-school and getting back into the swing of family dinners (this week she gave me a great spaghetti recipe to share with gurumommy readers!)  Abby told me that she too stresses about back-to-school, in fact she told me that ‘If you’re anything like me, this time of year you realize that DENIAL is NOT a river in Egypt.  It is a very real sensation that grips me every mid-August as the beginning of school approaches.  I experienced it as a kid and I have it as a parent tenfold.However, if I slow down and get quiet enough to listen inside, I realize that it is, indeed, the natural time to transition into a more active mode.  My body and mind are actually craving it just a bit.  Even as I wax and wane over long summer days filled with nothing pressing, my internal clock is feeling a tad bit restless-it knows its time to wake up.

Now, none of us enjoy being awakened by a bucket of freezing cold water being dumped on our heads, but that is what the first day of school can feel like for us and for our children if we don’t at least try to wake up gently.

As a mom of four, I find it helpful to make a mental note of what’s making me anxious about the school year.  Is it the schedules needing to be put in place?  Is it the looming responsibility of discipline that comes with urging your kids to finish their homework?  Is it the daunting task of cooking of meals five days a week?  The answer is…D) All of the above.

So I have to start with me, how can I awaken gently enough to face these impending months with grace?

First, I remember that nature and rest are always there for me and with proper planning; I can make myself available to it.  By scheduling a bi-weekly yoga class, a day of the week to hike, a good book to read before bed  (no need to worry, your TiVo is the to make time for reading) and a monthly dinner with friends, I know I’ve made time for me.  C’mon, we’ve all watched enough Oprah to know that this is a necessity and not a shallow, selfish act.

Phew, now that I know all of my relaxation will not come to an abrupt halt, I can focus on the rhythm of my family.  Make of a list of all the tasks as they come to mind (thank goodness for this note pad app on my iPhone!). Tackle two tasks a day leading up to the big day and forgive yourself in advance if they don’t get done by then:

Setting days for afterschool activities, tutors, a set day for play dates, new shoes, etc.  Then GET OUT AND ENJOY THE REST!  The weather is finally perfect!  Take that bike ride to the beach-remember; you can put your bikes right on the front of the bus for the way back uphill! Go for a gentle hike around Griffith Park in the late afternoon.  Take a family horseback ride at Sunset through camp Tumbleweed.   Cook a meal together using what is so deliciously in season (yes, this will get you back in the saddle where the kitchen has been missing your presence!).  There are so many ways to drink in the end of summer.   Remember, even positive anxiety is anxiety- our bodies don’t know the difference and stress to the body is no way to start the school year.

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