A new school year has begun—and while there are some of us parents who want to sing “Celebration,” others among us know the new year brings new worries. So, this year I made a list of things parents should refuse to stress about. You’re welcome.
- To PTA or Not to PTA?
By now, you’ve probably received 25 emails and 12 flyers requesting you join the PTA. If you’re like me, you deleted the emails and chucked the flyers, but not before having a chat with yourself that went something like this, “It’s not that I don’t care about my kid’s school, I do! And I TOTALLY appreciate the PTA, buuuut… gah! I’m so not a ‘joiner.’ So many moms LOVE the PTA, which is great; but can’t I contribute in my own way?” Well, the answer is yes, you can. You can contribute to the school in other ways and don’t need to be a “joiner.” (You also don’t need to talk to yourself, although it’s been proven that those of us who do are wicked smart).
- How You Look During Drop-off/Pick-up
Yeah, yeah. Before you had kids you were a fashionista who never left the house without your “face” on and your hair “did.” Well, get over it. There’s nothing wrong with dropping your kid off in your PJs. Warning: If you’re not wearing a bra, be sure your shirt isn’t see-through. The anatomy lesson won’t go over well with anyone, though it WOULD likely make the PTA emails stop coming. (See #1)
STAY AWAY from PINTEREST if you’re out of lunch ideas. Not every lunch can be a healthy, rainbow, taste-explosion displayed like a scene from Star Wars! Protein, Veggie, Fruit, Drink, the end. Try to make it healthy, throw in a cute note, then let it go! It’s lunch, not a meal at Nobu.
- Attending All Extracurriculars
Why does being an involved parent now mean we’re literally supposed to be involved in every single thing our kids do? When we were kids, if our parents remembered to pick us up from school, we considered ourselves loved and supported. Why is our presence “required” at every after-school event? Don’t kids still need space and autonomy? Of COURSE we’ll come to the big events, but are we SO awful if we don’t sit through EVERY rehearsal of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown… when our kid is the stage hand? Also, who the HECK has TIME to go to all these things? Do these people have maids and butlers? Clones? A self-cleaning house? I don’t get it.
- Progress Reports
It seems like there’s too much pressure today for our kids to be “the best” in school. Every kid CAN’T be the “best,” so someone’s getting set up to fail. If your kid’s learning, does it really matter where they rank or if they got 5 gold stars? I’m pretty sure Harvard doesn’t look at their applicants’ second grade report cards. And freaking out over where your kid stands among others is pointless. They are who they are and they’re just discovering their learning styles. Don’t worry; they’ll learn to tell YOU to chill out soon enough.
- What Your Kids Wear
We ALL made poor fashion choices when we were younger. It’s a right of passage. As much as you want to control your kid’s wardrobe, there comes a time when, as long as it fits and is appropriate, you have to let them dress themselves. Will that be painful to watch at times? Yes. But it’s not a reflection on you. Plus, it will be hilarious and you can take pictures to tease them with when they’re older. At which point they’ll deny the outfits were their idea and blame you instead. Ah, parenting. It’s so rewarding.
- Checking Homework
Listen, we all mess up sometimes. You’ve got a lot on your plate and, while juggling a gazillion things, every so often you may forget to check their homework—or you’ll “check it”—as in glance at the paper, nod and smile at your kid, and continue cooking with one hand and wiping your toddler’s face with the other. When this happens and it turns out something in the homework was incorrect (or even inappropriate), take comfort in the fact that teachers tend to be very understanding. If you’re lucky, they’ll also have a sense of humor and just laugh when your daughter’s spelling sentence is “My mom LOVES wine.” I promise that no one calls CPS due to an incorrect homework assignment. Although I admit, IF that had happened to me in response to the above example, I would’ve understood.
So, there ya have it. Will I take all my own advice here? Unlikely—but I’ll try. After all, we only have so many days of freedom left before school is out again. Better to enjoy it than stress it.