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Back To School Challenges

Guest Blogger By Shelle Lenssen

After a fairly relaxed and laid-back summer, our family is in full-on back-to-school mode. Bedtimes are enforced, homework is done, backpacks are checked, and clean clothes are laid out nightly. Even though we’ve done this back-to-school routine for a few years now, this new school year feels a bit different.

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This is the year my oldest daughter transitions from being one of the little kids in her elementary school, to being considered one of the big kids. The hand-holding days of kindergarten and first grade are behind us and my big second grader is required to take on more responsibility for herself, her work, and her belongings. My head understands this is the healthy and natural progression of things, and I ultimately want to raise a confident, independent critical thinker, but my heart feels otherwise. I still see her as my little baby and my heart aches to do everything for her. It’s been taking intentional thought and action for me to step back and let her do it herself. Often that means sloppy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in her lunchbox and mismatched socks on her feet, but a growing confidence inside a growing girl.

Second grade is also the year that students in our school have the wide world of afterschool clubs and sports opened to them. In our family, this means more days than not, my daughter will not go to her trusted after care program, and will instead stay at school for her extracurricular activities. She’ll have the option to try various activities such as volleyball, basketball, soccer, cheer, robotics, gardening, and choir. I’m grateful she has these wonderful opportunities to learn and grow, but unlike years past, parents aren’t required to attend with their children. Her coaches and club advisors will be her guides and mentors, not her parents. I guess my little girl really is growing up.

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In addition to dealing with the emotional aspects of watching my daughter grow up, I’ve got to deal with the new logistical issues that arise. Having my second grader take on more responsibilities means she’ll be making more of her own lunches, so I’ve got to have the refrigerator and pantry stocked with easy-to-assemble lunch items. After school activities mean hurried or late dinners, so I better re familiarize myself with my slow cooker and come up with a solid meal plan before each week begins. My Pinterest boards and recipe binder are currently being filled with easy lunch and dinner ideas that will hopefully make busy days run a bit more smoothly. The extra activities also mean more driving for pick-ups and drop-offs. My husband and I have stepped up our communication to coordinate all of our schedules to make sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be there.

While it’s my daughter’s growth and development we’re focusing on, as a family, we all will need to rise to meet the challenges of this new school year.