My five-year-old starts kindergarten this week. If you, too, squat out a human five-plus years ago, you know there is much to be done before that momentous first day.
But worry not, I'm here to give you some organizational tips and advice based on my own (current) experience and intuition.
Heather’s 12 handy tips for parents
1. Buy a box of wine. A bottle of wine is for random Tuesdays in March. This is the big leagues now. Consider it an adult juice box. And nothing says "back to school" like juice boxes.
2. Plan to go through your child's wardrobe to see what he/she has/needs. Empty the contents of his/her dresser and closet onto the floor. Don’t forget to include those garbage bags of hand-me-downs.
Sit in your adorably chaotic mountain of musty fabric. Get distracted because "Mommy, I'm hungry/the baby pooped/ I’m still hungry/ I’m bored/Can we watch a show?/Why does my bread have seeds?/But I don't like seeds/Are plants going to grow in my belly?
Try to reassure a headstrong child who has wild forests growing all willy-nilly in his innards due to your poor snack choices. Embrace futility. Wipe away your neck and under-boob sweat with a stained t-shirt from the pile. Stuff everything back into garbage bag.
3. Make a list of what your child needs for school. But rather than write it down like a normal person who’s pressed for time, choose to type it so you can look ultra-modern and organized. Note: do not just type it whence your computer currently sits — too convenient. Type it outdoors because it’s a beautiful day.
Feeling guilty because you’ve been working all week and this is your chance to spend one-on-one time with your almost-kindergartener? No problem! Create a double workstation outside with your laptop and headphones and perfect playlist as well as a colour-by-numbers of Starlord (specifically).
Have a deep, long debate with your five-year-old about each of the seven colours required for the colour-by-numbers. That is not the right colour, he will remind you. Spend 17 minutes searching for “beige” in a sea of “no, that’s light brown” and “ugh, mommy, that’s peach.” Finally find the perfect beige.
Smile warmly when your child tells you he doesn’t want to colour outside anymore because it’s too windy.
4. Settle in to your outdoor office anyway. Insert headphones. Scroll through playlist for the perfect song to start with. Open computer. Watch the screen go black just as Word opens. Go back in the house and search everywhere for your adaptor; do this in total silence so as not to wake the baby.
Once back outside and plugged in, type “1” to begin your list of back-to-school must-haves. Let off a tiny beam of pride (look at you go!). Ignore your “bored” five-year-old pacing back and forth on the deck, sliding his hand along the railing. Recognize the look of horror on his face as the splinter plunges deeply into his finger. Suppress your own panic as you grip his hand and yank that thing out of there. Watch the colour drain from his face. Rinse finger, cold cloth on forehead, Polysporin, Cars bandaid. Once the scream-crying and hyperventilation have subsided, embark in a 20-minute conversation about why he “can’t stop thinking about blood.”
Rather than help him reach a mature conclusion, set him up with blankets and pillows and the iPad on the deck next to you, as if he has just undergone major surgery.
5. Be everything you hate about people.
6. Stare blankly at your typed number “1” for several minutes. Regret your downer music playlist. Be sure to time your “aha” moment for No. 2 with your child’s announcement of hunger. It is lunchtime, after all.
7. PB&J and a mimosa. One of them is for you. Close your laptop.
8. Pretend you don’t hear the baby waking as you frantically throw shoes on (they don’t need to match or even be yours) and sprint out the door to the car without a shopping list or a clue as to what you need. Depending on the urgency of the baby’s waking shrieks, you may or may not have time to close the door. Your husband/wife’s got this.
9. Go to Walmart. Immediately wish you were anywhere but Walmart on the weekend before school starting. Buy nothing but premade packs of overpriced, stackable, quasi-edibles which you swore you would never feed your child because these packages are filled with nitrates and death and you will nourish the temple of your precious child with organic, homemade, free-range, unicorn-kissed foodstuffs that you have prepared from scratch. Plus, you could make circular cheese, cracker and meat trays at a fraction of the cost if you really wanted to. Except you don’t. So f--k it, throw 'em in the cart, son. We’re going home.
10. Plan to stress shop the day before school starts instead.
11. On the morning of that long-awaited first day, take 312 photos of the whole family leaving the house and/or just outside the school. Ensure that the only one in which everyone is smiling and looking at the camera is the one in which you look like a tired, bloated sculpin with sideburns and lipstick on your teeth.
12. Regret everything.
In all honesty though, folks, the week upon us is, indeed, a big deal for the youngsters. But cut yourselves a little slack. This is the part where you put the kids to bed, open that box of wine, look at baby photos and ugly cry about where all the time has gone.
Good luck, parents. Cheers, kiddos. My condolences, teachers.
Heather Huybregts is a mother, physiotherapist, blogger (www.heatheronarock.com), wine advocate and puffin whisperer from Corner Brook. Her column appears monthly.