Tuesday, August 8, 2017

7 Reasons Why I'm Not Ready for School

I remember when I was growing up, Back to School usually happened around my birthday (August 31, just so you know).  Now, my elementary aged daughter is starting second grade. Tomorrow. We're not even two weeks in to the month. 

That's too soon for me. 

I know many people out there who are just dying for summer to be over and the kids to go back to school. They are tired of their kids complaining of boredom, or the constant kids shows on tv, or the fighting between siblings, or the disrespect, or the lack of structure, or whatever it is that makes one want to send the children away. I get it, I do. However, I am not one of those people. I am not ready for school to come. Here's why: 

1. The Germs
We have lived in a perpetual bubble since summer started. Sure, we've gone places and had swim meets and play dates and park trips and had people over and gone to other people's houses. But my children haven't been in the close confines of a germ-infested classrooms where colds and coughs are passed around like candy. We've managed to stay illness-free this summer and I couldn't be more thankful. I just know that when school starts up again that the germs are going to party like it's 1999. 

2. Day-Trips
I like to go places. This summer we've taken one to two day trips each week. The kids and I have visited the beach and the zoo and farms and gardens and parks and museums and factories and amusement parks. We've learned and explored and had a blast in doing so. When school starts again, I won't have that flexibility. If I do choose to go somewhere, my oldest will be missing out. Or I'll have to take a shorter trip so that I can be back in time to pick her up to school and she will be sad that she missed it.   

3. Homework
Enough said, right? Being on the other side of the fence, so to speak, I'm actually in the no-homework camp. As a teacher, I used to believe firmly in practicing at home what you've learned in school. Now, I realize how much time my child spends at school and what little time together we have at home. I would rather we have quality family time then forced homework activities on items that are covered in school. 

4. Food 
My daughter is, shall we say, a picky eater. Packing her lunches has been a test of patience. What she eats at home she won't eat at school because it's too cold, or too hot, or too squishy.  She's still picky at home, don't get me wrong, but I know that at least I'll have an option that she will actually eat instead of wasting something that I've sent to school with her. Food waste is a huge pet peeve of mine. 

5. Sleep
During the summer I don't set any alarms unless we absolutely need to be somewhere in the morning. This is a rare occurrence. During the week I let the kids sleep in. I figure their little bodies can self-regulate how much sleep they need, and who am I to interrupt that. We still have a bedtime, I'm not that crazy, but no set wake-up time. At the beginning of summer they were waking up pretty early, but now that a couple of months have passed, they generally get up around 8. Which I think is great. However, school starts at 8:15 in the mornings, so getting up at 8 and making sure everyone is dressed and fed is not going to be realistic. 

6. Peers
I think my children are pretty sensitive. I'm okay with that. I would rather have sensitive children then calloused souls. Just sayin'. Back at school there are all kinds of characters. Some kids are nice and some like to push boundaries and others take pleasure in putting others down. I never know how my daughter will react after a day at school. I wish I could wrap her in a bubble so she's not exposed to any negative input. 

7. Sibling Bond
My children have been together all summer. They've had their fair share of quarrels and fighting over toys and crying over whose turn it is and who cheated and which toy was theirs. But they've had to learn how to work together to entertain themselves. They've had to cooperate in order to do fun projects and travel to different places. Sure, they could escape to their rooms (or be sent, if needed), but they'd have to come out and face the offended in due time. Once school starts, life will be extremely busy again and all three of them won't be together like they have been. I'm hoping their bond will still remain strong even as they lose one during the day. 

Alas, I'll know summer is really over tomorrow when I drop my daughter off at school. I'm hoping she has a good year and that summer comes soon.      


Thursday, March 16, 2017

What I Do All Day

I don’t have a job. Well, not a paying job anyway. I don’t have a workplace to check in to every day, a boss to report to, or deadlines to make. I don’t have to worry about coworkers or office drama or remembering important meetings. I don’t have a dress code to follow or a commute to make. I can stay home and do whatever I want, whenever I want. I am free and my calendar is wide open.   

Just kidding, I have three children.

Let me fill you in on a bit of what I do.

First things first, my elementary school child has to be at school at a certain time every day, otherwise she’s sent to the office for a tardy slip and I consider myself reprimanded for not doing something so easy as take a child to school on time. This is where all the seasoned moms laugh hysterically, because somehow somebody can’t find a shoe or a jacket, or the children are still hungry because they refused to eat the lovingly prepared nutritious breakfast, or the homework pages have been mysteriously glued together and refuse to come apart, or the toy for show-and-tell is suddenly the worst toy ever and you need a new one RIGHT NOW, or the baby’s lovey has gotten stuck under the sofa and is wedged in tight and he is crying hysterically and won’t calm down without it, or, or, or… you get the idea. It’s a miracle we make it out of the house in the first place, let alone on time.

Then there are two children, and we run a tight ship around here. One day a week Grammy graciously comes to play while I volunteer in my elementary daughter’s classroom. This is a huge perk of being a stay-at-home mom. I get to interact with her peers and see her learning in action. She knows I have a good relationship with her teacher and is therefore held accountable for what she does in school. Plus, the younger two are building a great relationship with their grandma.  

Another morning I help teach preschool to my second daughter. A friend and I have teamed up to do a co-op, where we take turns planning lessons and adhering to a theme of the month. We rotate houses and make sure our children are receiving excellent play-based academic instruction. This takes a bit of prep and research on our part, but it also saves us the cost of preschool and ensures our children receive the quality instruction we desire.

The other weekday mornings are for extracurricular or enrichment activities for the younger two children. We attend gymnastics courses, do a Bible study, and go on field trips to places suh as a local wildlife rescue or the fire station. In other words, we don’t just sit around at home and watch tv; instead we are moving and learning.  

The mornings fly by and then it is lunchtime. We might be able to grab a quick lunch with a friend, but more often than not the children are tired and cranky at this point and it’s all I can do to get some sustenance in them before they crash for the afternoon. The toddler takes a nice nap while the preschooler can’t decide if she’s tired or not. Sometimes she falls asleep and sometimes she just plays or looks at her books. I’ll attempt to make and eat my own lunch and do damage control from the mess of the morning rush.

Then it’s time to pick up the older one from school and eat a snack. We’ll do homework or projects or play at the park or do extracurricular activities for her, such as soccer or ballet, and I’ll prep and make dinner. I love that I am able to try out new recipes and take the time to make things from scratch.

Husband will come home to eat with us and the bedtime routine will commence: bath, books, bed. If he’s not late coming home or isn’t attending a night class, he will spend the evening putting the kids to bed while I clean up from dinner.

After getting another glass of water, or finding a bug bite that’s itching, or remembering to tell us just one more thing from the day, the children drift off to sleep in their beds. This is the time for my husband and I to catch up on our day, watch a show together, or I’ll read while he preps for work.

By then it’s late and I just know somebody will wake up in the middle of the night needing something. I put myself to bed to begin again the next day.

So you see, I might not have a full-time job where I get paid, but I do actually do things during the day that provide value to my family. I am enriching the lives of my children and running a household. I am instilling morals and discipline into my children and helping to make them well-rounded productive members of society.

Friday, February 10, 2017

My Thoughts on Gyms

Recently, a good friend of mine gifted me a seven-day pass to her gym. To say I was surprised when I received the phone call from the gym person explaining that I was invited to come try it out, is an understatement. You see, gyms have never been on my list of places I ever want to visit, and I’ve been pretty vocal about it according to my husband.  

CC Image courtesy of The Library of Virginia on Flickr

First of all, they cost money. If you know me even just the tiniest bit, you know I’m quite the cheapskate. In the grand scheme of things, the cost of the monthly gym membership can buy a lot of coffee. Or sponsor sports for the children. Or contribute to our vacation fund. Or go toward a nice date night. Or here’s a wacky thought-save the money. It was just too much for my frugal self to justify.

Secondly, one can get in shape perfectly fine without all that fancy equipment. Want to jog? Push the kids in the stroller around the block. Need to lift weights? Use soup cans from the pantry. Even pesky pull-ups and lunges can be done at the local park (don’t be a creep, though, and be sure to wait for a time when less children are present).

But what about those fun classes that the gym offers? You might ask. Why hello, OnDemand television. You don’t even need to get dressed to do a workout program in front of the television. Just roll out of bed, hit a few buttons on the remote, and you’re set. You can customize by time, workout type, or just sit there and scroll through while you imagine yourself growing healthier by the second.

If OnDemand isn’t your thing, we have this amazing invention called the internet. With that comes YouTube. Park yourself in front of the computer and work that body. There are a plethora of workouts to choose from on the internet, many for free of charge. If you happen to find something that asks you to pay, just keep searching. Your cheap self will thank you later.

There are also a ton of apps available to download on your phone that will give you a daily workout routine. Prop your phone up to view, squint your eyes for a better view, and copy that instructor to your heart's content. You can also rewind if the instructor goes too fast or does some type of crazy move you couldn’t quite copy. You can’t really rewind the instructor at the gym, now can you?

Of course I can’t forget to mention the self-conscious factor. I’m not gonna lie, I freak out a bit at the thought of someone watching me sweat and grunt in public. No thank-you. I would rather pretend to be put together (as much as a mom of three young children can be), when you see me out of the house.

Then there’s the comparison game. Watching the fit 90-year-old great-grandma in the best shape of her life while she conquers spin class makes me think I have a problem if I can’t even lift my butt off the seat. Or the guy with muscles benching five times his body weight. You go, buddy, but that is some serious stuff and a bit too intimidating for me.

Oh yes, intimidation. All the machines with their fancy cables and wires and imposing heavy weights that slide and pull and push and turn. I have no clue how to use any of that and I don’t want to look like an idiot when I accidentally make the whole thing topple over or end up sitting on something when my head was really supposed to fit in that spot. I’d like to keep my dignity, thank you very much.  

Another issue- and this is a big one for me as well-germs. The bacteria that might be breeding in that hot, sweat-laden cesspool of human secretions just grosses me out. I know they sanitize equipment and all that, but some germs are sneaky. I don’t want to walk away with MRSA or some other mutated virus having snuck in through a missed spot on the gym floor.     

To conclude my story, I did end up using the free pass for the week. Hello, it was FREE! And would you know, I did convince my husband to sign the entire family up for the monthly membership. I know, what was I thinking? But the reason that won me over, that conquered all fears of money-wasting and toppled my arguments of convenience and inferiority and overcame the dreaded avoidance of all germs, was….


Consider me a convert now.