I like being around happy people, and I love the seasons of endemic glee. These are those rare times of the year when most people just feel good and can’t keep from smiling: Christmas and New Year’s, kids during the last week of school, and now parents at the summer’s end.
I’ve seen a lot of happy parents over the past week. Their glee is balanced by the gloom of some of their kids with the end of the lazy days of summer and the prospect of schoolwork. (As I read this to my daughter, she is frowning at this point.)
I recall the mixture of emotions I had every September – looking forward to hanging out with friends, the novelty of new school supplies and clothes, and the little worries kids have about getting good teachers, making the team and doing well in class.
If you or your kids are anxious or sad with these first few weeks of school, acknowledge those feelings and talk about them. Sometimes feelings themselves can linger and grow and shade how we appreciate our days. But they can lose that power when we realize that what we’ve been feeling stressed about is not so daunting after all and our situation is not as bad as we thought.
The positive aspects of September can outbalance the negatives. We still have summerlike weather; in fact, we still have a few weeks of summer left. There is still enough light to have an after dinner walk or cycle as a family.
Weekends are now special. Long ago, my daughter chose Friday to be family movie night when we’ll all sit down on the sofa to share a bowl of popcorn and watch a show together.
As a child, I would look forward to the new series on TV, especially on Saturday mornings. I also enjoyed the newness of things – the first page of each notebook, a new pack of pencil crayons, a clean Pink Pearl eraser and once in a while, a new lunch kit or thermos.
A healthy summer’s end ritual is the holiday debrief. Sitting together at the dinner table or in the family or living room, we share our favourite moments of the summer – the places we went together, the things we did, the people we met and the food we enjoyed.
This is helpful for kids who may have to write an essay on their summer activities. It is helpful for all of us because through our shared experiences we grow in our relationships and as individuals. The holiday debrief reminds us that summer is not lost but rather much has been gained.
And to temper the stress of the early morning rush out the door, we would all do well to plan ahead, start early and slow down. As Ben Franklin said, “Haste makes waste.” We become absent minded, have more accidents and make more mistakes when we rush.
Prepare for the morning the night before with bags packed, lunches made and breakfast planned.
For the rest of us who are drivers, let’s leave a few minutes early so we can slow down – for the heavier traffic, kids at crosswalks, cyclists and school zones.