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School Routines Take Some Getting Used To

Change is tough, no matter what age you are.

The first couple weeks back to school breed a whole new level of complaining in my house. I can’t say I blame the kids, either. Change in routine is tough for me too. Going from one extreme to another is uncomfortable. It’s too easy to look at the alternative and like it better just because change takes some getting used to. And there’s no larger transition for kids than from summer to school – the whimsical, lazy, timeless days full of sunshine, freedom and fun versus the days of instruction, control, order, early bed times, homework and sitting still.

So far, this year the start of school has been far more welcomed than in the past. My kids have been eager to get back to the normal school days, seeing their friends and having some time away from their siblings (and quite possibly their mom). But they have still had complaints about how long the school day seems.

Ashley, a new first-grader, told me the other night how much she loved school. She said that she loved seeing her good friends and coloring. But she added that it has hard to sit still for so long. And each morning, she’s quick to ask just how many hours she’ll be away.

I get it -- the school day is long. And to be out of the routine makes it more difficult. Sitting in a chair and being told what to do for most of the day is a staunch change from how our summer proceeded…

Our summer was long and enjoyable, but fast and busy as well. We were rushing off to the beach or another amusement park activity. We were running out to the Farmer’s Market, to the park, to grandma’s house. We ate dinner sometimes as late as 7:30 p.m., and rushed our way from June to August, doing whatever we pleased, playing on the computer, games on my iPhone and watching movies. The summer was rushed and fast and thus overstimulating in it’s own right. And I can relate!

Although I couldn’t wait for the start of the school year, I am feeling the lack of stimuli in my “classroom” of sorts. My quiet house is too still, with just one very independent preschooler happily milling about as I tend to the laundry, organizing the various corners of the home that were left ignored for day on end. I miss the chaos, the loud noises, the ability to pick up and leave and have virtually no schedules or responsibilities except for the wellbeing of my three little ones. I miss not having an excuse for not completing a task, there was so much freedom there.

While folding laundry Saturday, my husband came into the room and powered up a podcast he thought might interest me. It was a motivational, take-charge-of-your-future type speech.

At first, I thought this was my husband’s subtle encouragement to get a job now that the kids are staying in school longer each day. So of course, his suggestion was met with an eye roll and a pair of clean socks being thrown at his gut. But as I listened more intently to the podcast, its significance was apparent.

The speaker told tales of how life gets so busy that you forget how to just be. We are living in a society where the common place to travel is in the fast lane. We have been moving at mach speed, so to have just one activity in one location is a bit of a change for anyone.

So while my kids get used to focus and learning and quite, directed activities, it seems I should take a hint and slow down and focus a bit too. Perhaps our annual routine is getting used to a new routine every so often.

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