After a packed, hot summer of family vacations, camp or kids underfoot, what’s a parent or caregiver to do with all that free time on the first day of school?
For some, the first drop-off of the new year will mean the usual: Head to work. Others plan to double down on organizing and cleaning their summer-traumatized homes. How about a nap?
Los Angeles mom Jill Simonian, with the youngest of her two daughters starting kindergarten, will be doing most of the above, with a breakfast bash thrown in for her mom friends in mid-August.
“Nothing like a good party with girlfriends to boost our happiness, motivation and to commemorate this new chapter of having a little bit more freedom with all our kids in school,” she said. “I always feel reinvigorated when I spend time with friends and us moms don’t do enough of that. Getting the kids back in school means we can celebrate our lives and friendships, too.”
Latisha Jones in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a lawyer, professor and mother of three, including a year-old son. Her other two kids, 5 and 11, head back to school Aug. 9. She’ll be mourning a little as she puts “vacation mom” into hibernation.
“Immediately after I drop my kids off for the first day of school, I cry at the thought of them growing up and another year of milestones,” she said. “Five minutes later I rejoice at the thought of some alone time. Ten minutes after that it’s back home to prep for them coming home and then off to work. The start of school signals the return of planning and prepping and order,” she said.
In Newport, Pennsylvania, Lisa Batra will have a kindergartner and a second grader next school year, but they don’t go back until after Labor Day.
“Camps end in the beginning of August and the boredom definitely sets in,” she said. “For the first time, my youngest will ride the bus and I’ll be at the bus stop taking photos and most likely shedding a tear or two. Afterwards, I’m getting that mani-pedi that I’ve been putting off. I deserve some me time!”
Avalon, California, mom Brittany Arnold has three kids: 5, 10 and 15. She’s looking forward to reuniting with her fellow school parents.
“After taking the kids to school, we head to a local restaurant and spend a good hour catching up,” she said. “It’s great seeing our friends, too, since summer can be hectic. Most take the mornings off on the first day, so it’s a great time to reconnect.”
Allyson and her husband in Scottsdale, Arizona, have a date after the Aug. 9 school drop for their two kids, an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son going into kindergarten.
“We started a tradition two years ago on the first day of school to take the day off of work, go to breakfast with mimosas and go see a movie! Afterward, we come home and relax and then pick up the kids when school is out,” she said.
Other couples plan date time as well, including trips to the spa. Several moms said it’s back to the gym for them or simply enjoying a long overdue uninterrupted shower.
Wanda Thomas in Philadelphia said she and her husband — the parents of a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old daughter — spent one first day of school “sitting in the house doing nothing but appreciating the peace and quiet, ’til hunger set in.” They may catch a movie this time around, time permitting.
Things aren’t looking quite that way for Amanda Spencer in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
She has a 2-year-old starting two days of preschool in September. Her 4-year-old will be in pre-kindergarten five days week. Both will be going half days, until noon. She’s already breathless:
“We’ll probably just make it out the door on time for drop-off in the car line, one or both will be crying for the first day and I’ll wind up walking both of them in, then head out to the grocery store and halfway there I’ll remember I forgot the grocery store list but will continue there to see what I can recall from the list, then head to another grocery store for the balance of the food, go home and unpack the food, attempt to get the laundry downstairs and one load started, check my email on my phone, reply to any work emails, then get lunch ready for the kids and head out to pick them up.
“If there’s time leftover, I’ll get the sheets changed on the beds, and/or wipe as many counters as possible or dust one room.”
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