It’s back to school time! As our little critters leave the house with new pencils and backpacks, parents are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Summer is fun, but the routine of getting back to school can be its own kind of heaven. Summer isn’t always fun and games for families. In an age where children aren’t left to play by themselves, or to wander with their peers in the wood lots and side streets of our communities, it’s the parents who are left with the job of trying to organize an entire summer’s worth of activities. And of course, those activities need to be enriching, active, with a good lunch program and affordable. Even a trip to the cottage can mean organizing friends, and for the most attentive of parents, making sure there are games and crafts, and enough nutritious snacks laid out in appropriately healthy time intervals through the day. The result? Many parents can’t wait for the school bell to ring so the stress of all of it is finally over. Many a mom has spent their visit to the clinic crying and overwhelmed, feeling guilty for their feeling relieved. Thinking they are a bad mom for wanting it to all be over. Reflecting on their own childhood and remembering their own mom “doing it better” without dissolving into a puddle of stress and tears. Perhaps. But from the Clear Conscience Department of StoneTree Clinic, here are a few thoughts to take with you as this first week of school rolls out:
- Surprise! Your parents ALSO loved September. Humans love routine and although summer holidays are good times, two months of no routine is not for everyone. Our stress hormones help us adapt to our environment. When we have a good routine, they don’t have to work very hard. When we are out of routine they need to work harder.
- Your parents raised you in a different world. One where kids could leave the house and play outside with a posse of friends all day. No crafts and activity planning required. The only thing required was a freezer full of popsicles and the rule of being home before the street lights came on.
- Your parents had different social pressures. It was fine for kids to be bored. Staring slack-jawed out the car window for a long drive was normal. Enriching activities to keep reading skills up in the summer weren’t even on the radar. Kids were told to go find something to do, and parents felt far less cultural pressure to entertain.
So give yourself a pat on the back, parents. You made it through! As the school bus pulls away from the curb this week, go back to the house, book a day off just for you if you can. Read a book, book a massage, or just sit alone in the glorious quiet and breathe. Give your stress hormones a break – you deserve it!