We just returned from two months based in the Boston area. It was an epic summer exploring the East Coast for us West Side peeps. Ry had to work, while we played. More about that later.
For now, those of you that have known me for a while, know… this is my least favorite time of the year. Well, other than… Nope. There is no other than. This is the least favorite. For sure, by one million, billion, gajillion percent.
I know not everyone wishes for endless, summer days, but man, we love our FREEDOM. We treasure the chance to create our own schedules, and determine our days. So a regimented school day, specific schedules, and other assaults on our time isn’t terribly appreciated.
With all that angst, we do find ways to cope with, and ease the burden.
As I was combing through past back-to-school posts, I realized I never wrote one for last year. Which, is frustrating for me, because my brain has a difficult time recalling in detail, things that happened in the past, unless I write it down, which is why I’m a writer. (Hi, my name is Dory) It’s always a treat for me to go through old photos and posts, because it helps me remember; it transports me right back to events, feelings, and thoughts. Last year was the year I went through the crazy blood clot, so I’ll give myself a break, but man, not writing things down leaves a big old blank spot in my mind.
This back-to-school 2015-2016 year, I’m selecting a series of three Dr. Seuss quotes that I believe will aide my girls as they plow through another year of schooling. I even played on the computer to create some graphics for the girls to hang up in their room, and around the house to remind them of our themes.
2015-2016 Back-to-School Empowerment Theme
Does your family have a theme? What is it?
We did this theme for the 2013-2014 year. I do remember that the theme for 2014-2015 year was “Be Strong and of Good Courage,” because that was the year they started a new school, with a new method of learning, specifically, Montessori. This year it’s about empowerment. I want them to know they hold destiny, and their paths in their hands. I want my girls to know they are strong, and can make their own wise decisions. In fact, I remember another year it was all about making glorious mistakes. I wanted my girls to know that we all make mistakes, and mistakes are no big deal. We have to make them, as we learn. The less we fear mistakes, the more we’re willing to try, and the more we try, the more we succeed.
Aside from our back-to-school theme, Ry gives the girls each a father’s blessing the night before school. It’s a nice way to give them a little more spiritual oomph as they step into a new season of their lives. I’ve always loved receiving father’s blessings, and also love our family prayers we say together each evening, holding hands, kneeling in a circle.
This year, our first day starts this Friday. So I’m in the midst of planning our night before school dinner. I also need to write my notes I like to have them read at breakfast on our first day. The girls still need to decide on their first day outfits, and we have our parent orientation tonight, to learn what supplies and other details for the next school year. Whew! Is it me, or does everything feel like it’s coming a bit too fast?
Back-to-School Tips and Tricks
Part of going back-to-school is utilizing tips and tricks to help the early morning rush, and after school activity managed. My friend Kirsten who is an organizing guru, gave us some tips a few years ago, which I have used ever since. Since I have girls, hair is a last minute thing we do after breakfast, as we’re rushing out the door. It has saved us so much time, having a drawer in the kitchen devoted to a brush, hair bands, bobby pins, etc., easily accessible. Just make sure you keep it full. If you have girls, you know how that stuff ends up all over the place. So sometimes, during the week, I’ll tell my girls to go collect them, and replenish the hair drawer.
One of the things that drives me crazy is the sheer amount of dead trees coming in my door. From junk mail, bills, classwork, flyers, etc. For the kids, Kirsten gave me another tip. Get these boxes from Ikea, pick your size, and keep them in the laundry room, or wherever you come in from, and the kids can put their work they want to keep inside. Then, at the end of the year, just move it into their closet, and voila. You are done with the papers. I like to make them review all the stuff over the summer, to make sure they really want everything inside.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see how much I love making lunches. I make lunch for my kids every morning, in addition to hot breakfasts. Why? Necessity. My girls hate cold cereal in the morning. They want warm food, eggs, pancakes, soup, etc., and I want them to eat a healthy breakfast so they can have a good morning of learning. Food and service are my love languages, so creating a colorful, healthy lunch is right up my alley. It makes me feel better, more relaxed and worry-free knowing that they will refuel with food that’ll help them through the afternoon.
I’ve loved using bento-style lunch boxes, and have tried several over the years. Then I discovered PlanetBox a couple years ago, and I’ve gotten rid of the old plastic ones I’ve used. I love PlanetBox. I say this as someone who has never worked with them, or received any incentives. Our family loves the convenience, the design, and ease of use. I love that we are green without even really trying. I find that using PlanetBox helps me create more colorful, more healthy lunches. How do you stay motivated making lunches? What foods do your kids love to eat?
So yes, I’m an Asian mom, but I was raised in the U.S. as a first generation immigrant. So I straddle both worlds. I’ve found, that for me, I feel lucky to know both cultures, so that I get the advantage of picking the best things I like, to utilize in my life, and discard those things I don’t want. This means that my daughters are expected to focus on school work, that that is their “job.” I work hard to parent positively, meaning that instead of getting on their case for things they struggle with, I try to work as a coach should, and motivate them to want to improve on their own, or with my help. I also want them to pursue the things they are talented, and/or passionate about. I want to facilitate and grow their gifts, and interests. I feel strongly that their pursuits should be theirs, not mine. They are not versions 2.0 of me. I often feel like my role is to support, and provide opportunities, and then get the hell out of their way. I want to make sure my daughters know that no matter what successes, failures, fears, and triumphs they have, they are wholly, unconditionally loved, accepted and embraced in my heart, and in our home. I will fight for them in school and church, if they feel threatened, if they have teachers or classmates that are disturbing, dangerous, or disastrous. I will commit 100% to any teacher or classroom that is nurturing, and supportive, innovative, and creative.
Every school year I’m reminded, and I pay homage to that first kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kelly Estes, my oldest had. God bless the teachers with the mother hearts who teach their students so much more than knowledge. May each child be blessed with a teacher like her, and may each teacher like her, have parents who appreciate her.
Let’s face it, not everyone parents the same. That’s something I struggle with. It’s even difficult for my kids, because they are taught to be polite, and well-mannered. We teach them to look out for those that are lonely, and to be kind and unselfish. We focus on making sure we are respectful, we don’t stick our noses in other people’s business, and we don’t go out of our way to be rude. So when other kids are disrespectful, or go out of their way to be annoying, obnoxious or mean to fellow classmates, and/or my daughters, my girls are absolutely baffled and frustrated. They often return home asking me, “Why?” I don’t have any good answers, except to remind them, that we choose not to act that way, and we can learn from that bad behavior by never doing it because of how it makes us feel, and thus we don’t want to act like that to make others feel that way. How do you deal with these issues? How do you discuss them with your kids? What do you do when your kids encounter these kinds of behaviors and you know the parents?
I’d love to hear your thoughts as you deal with the transition back-to-school. There’s such a wealth of information and experience that we can utilize to improve ourselves, and to help each other. Thank you for stopping by, and please, do share your wisdom. I know I am grateful for nuggets of advice, and I’m sure there will be someone who sees your comment and feels less alone.
Good luck, and good wishes to each of us as we strive to survive another school year!
Check out my fellow #AsianMomBloggers’ back to school traditions, tips, and resources:
- Maria at Bicultural Mama: 5 Picture Books by Asian American Authors for Back to School Reading
- Phyllis from Napkin Hoarder: Back to School: 5 Tips for Starting a New School
- Stephanie from Frankly, My Dear: Back to School Tips and Tricks
- Thien-Kim at I’m Not the Nanny: Our Fave Asian Lunch Box Snacks