Tag Archives: moms

Time Saving Tips

Show me a working mom, and I’ll show you someone who has less than enough time to get everything done in a day. With little ones underfoot, there are some days when relaxing is a foreign word that only exists someplace exotic. But in my own experience, I have found several time-savers that have allowed me at least a few minutes to sit before I’m off and running again.

1. Cook BIG.
Forget cooking just enough for one meal. What if you cooked dinner and the next night’s meal at the same time? Or better yet, keep a handy supply of freezer containers to store the leftovers for a different night instead of eating the same thing night after night. Or just cook an abundant amount of the meat and create several different meals. For example, if you’re making chicken consider cooking two or more whole birds. We’re talking chicken one night, tacos the next, enchiladas, the third, and soup the fourth.

2. Write your grocery list around your meal plan
While we’re on the subject of food, a time AND money AND calorie saving trick is to make a meal plan for the week, and then write your shopping list from it. Time will be saved because you won’t have to wander the aisles wondering what it is you need. And you will know what you are making each night for dinner instead of staring at the cupboard waiting for the view to change. Money will be saved because you will, in essence, be straying from impulse shopping. And that also saves calories as you avoid the foods that aren’t on your list, and stick to the foods you planned on eating each night for dinner.

3. Employ the kids
Yes, I know. Teaching kids to do anything takes more time than just doing it yourself. But think about this: If your kids learn how to do certain age-appropriate chores, they can TAKE THEM OVER. Just imagine your child putting away their folded laundry, taking out the garbage, cleaning up the cat box, watering the garden, and putting away the clean dishes. Sure, it takes time to teach them. But once they’ve learned, they can shave minutes, or even hours, off of your time dedicated to chores. Besides, you can’t do for them forever.

4. Make lists
Ok, be honest. How many times a day do you pause to try and remember what it is you have to do? How about the time that is wasted letting that to-do list run circles inside your head? Keep a notebook with you at ALL times and get that list OUT OF YOUR HEAD! Not only will you NOT forget what it is you need to do, you won’t be stressing yourself out by making sure that you remember everything. And let’s face it, as a mom there is a lot of things we have to remember. Plus, it feels really good to cross things off that list, and know that they’re done.

5. Don’t procrastinate
Before I start, let me admit something. I am the queen of procrastination. By default, this also makes me the queen of doing everything at last minute. But at times that I have bit the bullet and just took care of tasks as they fall in my lap, I find that I have more time than usual to do the things that I would have been doing in my procrastination time – surfing Facebook, reading a book, or just watching a movie. But this time, it’s guilt free. So do this – Wash the dishes immediately after every meal, or even while you are cooking the meal. Do a quick clean-up before sitting down on the couch. Wipe down the counters after the kids are done brushing their teeth. Put your clothes away as soon as you take them off.

What are some tips you have found that help you to save time during the day?

Because of Grandma

Two weeks ago (June 9, 2010)  my grandmother passed away. It wasn’t a surprise, we had known it was coming. She had been dying for probably the last 3 years, getting steadily worse until she was finally 1/3 of the weight she once was and unable to keep her eyes open for more than a couple minutes at a time. Her imminent death was awaited upon to end the suffering she was going through. But once it happened, the overwhelming sadness that came with it was inescapable. And I was actually surprised to be overcome with tears upon the news.

She was gone.

Grandma was a huge part of my cousins’ and my childhood. There were 10 of us grandkids (plus several step-grandkids she loved wholeheartedly) growing up, and most days many of us would populate Grandma’s house while our parents worked. Single-handedly she would take care of us, encouraging us to try new things like balancing on the jungle gym 7 feet up in the air or performing musicals in her front yard for the amusement of the neighbors and every single car that drove by. She let us roller skate through her house, her wood floors perfect for gliding from room to room. At night, we would all pile into her bed (5 or more of us at a time) while she slept on the couch. We would wait to hear her snore, a kind of wheeze-cough, wheeze-cough. And once she started sawing logs we would sneak out one by one, crawling behind the couch on our hands and knees until we had made it safely into the front room where my father had his office during the day. We would stay up well past midnight just to see if we could. Of course, if Grandma caught us we would all be sent back to bed with red bottoms, crying and wondering why Grandma was so mean.

Thing is, while Grandma was strict in keeping us in line, she was also very generous. All of her children were grown, yet she opened up her home gladly just to be able to spend time with us. She taught us how to curl our hair with an old fashioned curling iron (until my sister burned one curly lock completely off), how to make an apple pie (though I don’t think Mrs. Smith intended for the crust to be so black – just the way Grandma liked it), the wonderment of Velveeta, the magic of our imaginations, and the practicality of Muumuus and Smocks. She was the only grown-up in charge of us who actually let us walk to the corner market all by ourselves, as long as we stayed together. She bought us Easter bonnets and listened cheerfully as my sister and I clumsily sung songs on the way to church. She kept her candy dish full, and didn’t seem to mind when we ate all of the candy in a matter of minutes. When we got to the ripe old age of 12 (and for some of us, even younger), she even let us learn how to drive her car.

Grandma had been a single mother to my dad and his brothers and sister. She had been an artist who painted waves that looked like they could come crashing into the room at any moment. She loved songs from the 40’s, often singing them to us in her quiet, low tones. She thought that the music artists of today screamed too much, never failing to tell us so when we’d turn the television to MTV. She told us bedtime story after bedtime story. Even when her youngest son passed away in a car accident, she spent that morning reading stories to my 5 year old self from a book in a tearful voice. I didn’t understand why she was crying. And when I asked her what was wrong, she just told me she was very sad.

I’m very sad. But I’m sad in a way that I never could have explained until now. You see, I’m also happy in that sadness, and it was because my grandmother was such a wonderful lady. And I got to be a part of that wonderfulness. Because of her, many generations are living and creating life. Just this past weekend most of us were able to get together for a family reunion at my parents’ house. My dad and his sister and brother, my sisters and me, most of my cousins and their children, my own children… None of us would be here if it weren’t for my grandmother. And you could see snippets of Grandma in the lessons she taught us over the years, in the way we were now raising our own young families, in the conversations that traveled from table to table, and in the signature full lower lip she pouted so well in her 1940’s glamour shots with her sisters – the same mouth many of us inherited from her.

My grandma’s passing has also brought up thoughts about my own role in my family. One day that will be me, surrounded by the very family that I raised and created as I take my final breaths. And in the time before that happens, I hope to have taught my children well all of the lessons they need to learn in life, just like Grandma. I hope to have grandchildren to spoil and scold, and to be their escape from their parents. And I hope that when it is my time to leave this earth, I will also be remembered with as much love as my grandmother is.

A couple weeks before my grandmother passed, my family and I were able to visit her one last time. The dementia had placed holes in her memory so that most of the time she didn’t remember who any of us was. She looked so small in her bed and she kept her eyes closed, fighting sleep unsuccessfully. My aunt leaned down to her ear and told her who was there. She reached my name and her eyes opened wide.

“Well,” she breathed. And in that moment I saw that she knew.

I had been afraid that seeing her as frail as she was would erase the memory of the strong woman who had helped raise us in our youth. I had been afraid of being overwhelmed by this new image of her, helpless in a bed when I still remembered her as strong. But that one word, and the knowledge that even in the end she knew me, flooded back all the memories of my grandmother as I was growing up, linking the past and the present in a beautiful new way as I leaned down and kissed her soft forehead and laid my hand on her downy hair one last time. And that is the final memory that I am grateful to be taking with me of my grandmother.

Rest in peace, Grandma Estelle. We all love you.

Happy Mother's Day!

Let’s hear it for moms. They are the ones who wipe runny noses without getting grossed out, pick a pacifier off the ground and sanitize it with their own mouths, and stroke the back of their little one for as long as it is needed while their child throws their guts up in the toilet. They are the ones who are driving from point A to point B to point C to point D, and then back to point B because the munchkin left his favorite toy dog there. They are the ones who will answer the question “Why?” a hundred times a day only to come back to the very first answer that was given in the first place. They are the ones signing permission slips for field trips, helping their child with homework they haven’t known how to do in 20 years, and collecting materials for the report on leaves that is due, oh, tomorrow. They are also the ones that drive that same report to school when their child inevitably forgets it on the kitchen table. They make the doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, they sit through parent/teacher conferences, they sign the kids up for baseball, they volunteer to help in the classroom, and they watch the neighborhood kids when their house becomes the local hangout spot. They nurse fevers, skinned knees, broken arms, paper cuts, bumped heads, and broken hearts. They worry if their newborn is still breathing at night. They worry if their college student is eating enough. They do all the laundry only to find that the basket is full again. They cook dinner only to find their kids have decided to become picky eaters. They feel guilt over any mistake they have made with their child – long after their child has forgotten all about it. They feel guilt over not being the perfect mother in the eyes of all other mothers. They feel guilt over letting their child stay up too late, making them go to bed too early, feeding them too much food, not feeding them enough food, making them do too many chores, not giving them enough chores to do… They love their child unconditionally even when their little one cries from colic for 6 hours straight, or their teenager slams the door after professing their hate.

Do moms have bad days? Sure. Do moms ever long for a break? Of course. But is there any job more rewarding and joyful than being a mother? Absolutely not. So let’s hear it for moms who work so hard to raise their children, maintain their home, and sacrifice of themselves every day for the sake of their family.

I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Mother’s Day being pampered by those you care for the most!

Happy Mother’s Day!

A mom who inspires

There’s a certain truth in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. On one hand, this includes every person that touches your child’s life – their parents, their teachers, their aunts, uncles… But it also pertains to the wisdom of the generations that have come before them, passing down their values and tendencies that will be carried on for years to come and to future generations.

As a single mother, the mom that inspires me the most is my grandmother, the matriarch of our family. On her own, she raised three kids in an era when single parent households were uncommon. She attended countless baseball games and band recitals, opened up her kitchen for her sons’ insistence on cooking the animals they had hunted (in this case, deer or squirrel), held several jobs to maintain the household, and became creative in her dinners to stretch her dollar (tongue, anyone?). She sacrificed and gave it her all in raising two boys and one girl, as a single mom. In those days, there was no support system for single mothers. Most families were not divorced. And yet, she did it, and she did it well.

There are times when I am bitter about the hurdles I have to overcome as a single mom. I get angry about circumstances and, admittedly, sometimes wish I were the kind of person who could throw in the towel. My grandmother has been my constant, the person I focus on in rough times. She is a tough lady from a tough line of women, and raised a daughter who became a tough mother. This only means that I come from a tough lineage, and it is in my blood. My grandmother has become my inspiration to keep going even when I think that I couldn’t possibly make it any further. Not only that, she is a great listener in those times when I just need to vent. It helps to swap stories with someone who’s been there and understands.

P.S. The picture above is a photo of my grandmother and almost all of her grandchildren and great-grandkids.

Do you have a mom in your life that has inspired you? How about a group of moms that have helped you to keep going when motherhood seems like the hardest thing in the world?

The difference between moms and dads

Growing up, I was fortunate to have both my parents in the home. My dad is a real estate appraiser, and though he worked a lot, we were often able to accompany him on local road trips when he went to look at houses. Sometimes we’d ride along with him, fascinated by the beauty of some areas that we never would have seen otherwise. Other times he would drop my mom and us three girls off at the park so we could have a picnic. He’d join us when his appointment was done.

Dad was the one who had the ideas for fun places to go and things to see. Who knew that sitting in the lobby of a fancy hotel, as if we were guests, enjoying hot chocolate by the fire could be so much fun. But with Dad, it was his way of instilling make-believe in us. It wasn’t because we were poor, mind you. But because my dad was so busy all the time, he was sharing with us his way of coping – a one hour vacation from reality. Our favorite place to go was to the Sonoma Mission Inn (now the Fairmont) in Sonoma. The waitresses knew him by name, he visited so often. “Go wash your hands in the bathroom,” he’d whisper to us. “The soap is amazing!” And we would. (note: he’d offer us vacations in a bottle every year for Christmas by presenting us with our very own Sonoma Mission Inn Soap to use in our bathroom. It was one of our favorite gifts) Without fail, we’d all order hot chocolate and Crème Brule, taking the smallest bites possible after breaking through the caramelized crust of the pudding, mulling it over our tongues as we tried to make it last as long as possible.

In the winter we’d take weekend trips up to the Sierras. The 4 hour drive was broken up in two parts, always a stop in Lodi. We were creatures of habit. We had our favorite Carl’s Jr. that we stopped at in the evening. And whenever we hit the town in the morning, we had our favorite little diner, ordering our breakfasts by the number. And thanks to my dad, I can’t even think of the town of Lodi without humming a few bars from “Stuck in Lodi Again”. The drive was also peppered with us girls taking turns singing our favorite songs in the backseat as if no one were listening, then making each other giggle uncontrollably, and my dad yelling to keep it down – every 5 minutes. We’d argue with him, thinking that he was being ridiculous since we were having a good time and not fighting. Now with my own kids giggling in the backseat of a small vehicle, I think I understand. Once up on the mountain, it was dad who went skiing with us, putting us in a ski class while he ventured out to the more experienced slopes, and then joining us later to take a few easy runs with us. When we graduated to snowboarding, he stayed with his skis. But he took pictures with us and our snowboards just to be a part of the fad.

But there was more to Dad than just offering us a fun time. He was also the heavy hand in the family. If we got in trouble, sooner or later we were going to have to face Dad. And there is nothing worse than being the brunt of Dad’s anger. And let me tell you, as the oldest, I was there quite often. If I stepped out of line, my Dad was right there to pull me back in. “We didn’t raise you this way,” he’d glower, as I suffered the repercussions of sneaking out at night, or being caught with a cigarette, or when I’d “borrow” the car and not return until the wee hours of the morning. Wash my mouth out with soap? Time outs in the corner? Bah! Dad wouldn’t bother with that. In my younger years, every infraction was met with a couple hard swats on the bottom. And it was worse to be spanked by my dad than by my mom because Dad made sure we remembered it. “Wait till your father gets home,” is all my mom would have to say for us girls to stop in our tracks. And even though our infractions were committed hours earlier, Dad would stop by our rooms and let us know that our misbehavior was not going to be ignored. As I got older, there were times when he’d be so angry that he’d offer up the silent treatment. There was nothing worse than knowing I had stepped out of my dad’s graces, that he was so disappointed in me that he couldn’t even speak to me. Every morning we had a ritual of waking up early and reading the paper over coffee while everyone else still slept. During the silent treatment, he’d be in his office, avoiding me at all costs. But inevitably, one morning he’d just be there. We’d sit for an eternity of minutes in silence, both mulling over what we want to say in our minds, but afraid to speak first. At least I was. But the silence would eventually be too much to bear, and I was most likely the one who would offer up my apology first for being such an ass. And he’d accept my apology graciously, and would then talk about why it was so upsetting when I acted a certain way. There would be tears and frustration on my part and a level emotion on his as we worked it out. And then he’d invite me over for a big hug that he knew I needed more than anything. Once again I was Dad’s girl.

I had a different relationship with my mom than I had with my dad. With Dad, I was able to share things at face value – favorite songs on the radio, places I’d like to go one day, how much fun we had doing something or other, how I was doing with my studies, needing $20 for the movies with my friends… With my mom, I was able to confess the contents of my heart. A boy at school likes me, and I’m nervous about going to the school dance with him. A different boy, who I had liked for 3 years, kissed another girl in front of me and I am heartbroken. My friend just had to go through something really traumatic, and I don’t know how to be there for her. All the kids are wearing this certain kind of style, and I don’t think I’ll look good in it. There’s something wrong with my body and I don’t know what’s going on. It was mom who talked to us about the birds and the bees, and who told us that we could come to her if we became sexually active so that she could get us on some birth control. And when we did, she kept our confidences, much to my father’s disappointment in later years, never telling him what was going on. With her, the things that we couldn’t speak out loud to many people could be told to her. And she made it safe to do so, even bringing up certain things that might be too embarrassing for us to talk about first. If we just couldn’t talk about it, Mom always knew the right book we could look through to answer our questions, and maybe spur some dialogue once we became more comfortable. When I experienced the first dealings of mortality after a childhood friend died of brain cancer in 7th grade, it was Mom who held me when I could finally cry three days later. And she was the one who went with me to the wake so I could say my goodbyes. When my own infant son died of a stillbirth, my mom held my other hand as I gave birth, not leaving my side once even as scary as the situation was. And it was my mom who taught me how to attack the ground and make 6 inch holes in rock hard dirt so I could plant a daffodil garden in his honor. She knew I needed to get the aggression out on a life that is so full of things that aren’t fair. She knew I needed to do something for him since to everyone else he never even existed. And she knew that I needed to get some sunshine and fresh air instead of laying on the couch day in and day out, as I would have rather done. She got me to open up to grieving, and to eventually be able to see the day as something new, rather than just life after my baby died.

Growing up, it was a lot easier to get into fights with my mom. My mom was a yeller. That was her main punishment. And we’d yell back. It would be World War 3 in our house as we fought back and forth at the top of our lungs. To this day, I wonder what the neighbors were thinking. Getting our mouth washed out with soap was her favorite way to discipline. And secretly, it was ours too. It tasted awful, but it was over in a moment. And it was nothing that a little toothpaste couldn’t fix. But sometimes she’d get so angry that she’d bring out the wooden spoon and paddle our behinds. We learned not to put our hands in the way to cushion the blow. A wooden spoon coming down hard hurts a lot more on the knuckles than it does on the soft cushion of our derrieres. But the thing with Mom, if she had to resort to a spanking she would feel awful about it later. A screaming and yelling match happened because Mom was so angry she could think of nothing else to do. If she got so angry that she had to take out the wooden spoon, the incident would be followed up an hour later with an apology.

Dads and moms are very different when it comes to raising kids. In general terms, dads are the ones who initiate all the fun things. They are the ones who come down hard, and teach us to mind our steps if we don’t want to suffer the consequences. And they are the ones who will be there if you need help. Moms are the ones who nurture us by making sure we are fed and bathed. They make sure we have the skills to take care of ourselves when we are older – teaching us the right way to wash a dish and load it in the dish rack so it dries, how to create buttermilk using only milk and vinegar, and how to fold the towels correctly so that they all fit in the cabinet. They get to our hearts by talking about the things we hold close to us. They are a lot gentler in their approach, and not as intimidating when they are screaming at us than our dads are when they throw down the gauntlet. Kids growing up in two parent homes get the benefit of both parents’ personalities. And where each parent is lacking, the other is able to pick up and be the strong suit.

So what does that mean for single parents who only have one side or the other?

I got an email today from a man who is in his own single parent household, raising an 11 year old boy. And because I have been having so much focus on my son lately as I deal with his behavioral issues, he offered to supply me with his own wisdom about raising boys from a male perspective. He hasn’t been the first male to offer such wisdom.  And it got me thinking about my role as a mother, and my lacking role as a father.

I have two kids – my almost 12 year old daughter, and my almost 9 year old son. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll notice that not much is written about my daughter. Partly that is due to the fact that as a pre-teen, any mention about her would embarrass the living daylights out of her. But also it’s because I get her. A long time ago (no, not that long…), I WAS her. So when she gets mouth and sullen, or when she had a hard time saying anything without a heavy dose of attitude, I get it. And we give it back and forth to each other until we reach a “White Flag” moment, hug, and move on. But my son? I don’t get him. I am not a boy. I didn’t have brothers. The things and feelings he’s going through, I just don’t understand them. When he looks me in the eye and tells me that I obviously don’t care for him because he isn’t getting his way, and he tells me this after I’ve just spent the whole day working, doing errands on my lunch, grocery shopping, making sure his homework is done, fixing him his favorite food, making sure that his pajamas are clean by throwing in a quick wash, balancing my checkbook to find that I have nothing left after paying all of the bills and signing him up for baseball…. When he claims that I don’t care about him, after everything I do, because I’ve told him that it’s bedtime and he can’t play video games, I see RED. When he tells me that I’ve ruined his day, or that he wishes he had another family, or something else that he knows will go straight to my heart and leave a black hole, I am at a loss. And the way I deal with it when my emotion is on my sleeve does not strike fear in his heart. It only leaves him with more of a reason to insist that I don’t care about him. And being a single mom, it makes me wonder how I can do things differently so that he is raised up to be an extraordinary man – as if he had both parents in the house.

This last week, things came to a head between my son and me. And I want to get to that soon. But for now, I have several questions for you:

Were you raised in a single parent home, or a home with two parents?
What does your own family look like now?
Do you see differences in the way moms and dads raise their kids?
Is it possible for a single parent to be both the mom and the dad?

Getting Back into the School Routine

It’s the time of year when kids cringe and parents jump for joy. Gone are the days of going to bed late and waking up around noon. No more video games for 4 hours straight, knocking on friends’ doors all day long to see if they can play, and seeing if it actually is possible that pajamas will stick to their skin if they wear them for a week without changing. It’s when your child, who has been looking at you for months through shaggy uncombed locks, suddenly looks like a shiny new kid with a haircut and unwrinkled clothing, a new backpack slung over their shoulder…and a scowl on their face.

I can’t promise you that the scowl will disappear completely. But I can guarantee that, in most cases, it does get better. And, with the help of some local moms and teachers, I have compiled a list of some definite DO’s to help get your child on track in the transition from the lazy days of summer to the busy days of school.

The first, and most important, is to set a bedtime and stick with it. Caren McLerran, a kindergarten teacher at R. L. Stevens Elementary, suggests that routine is vital when it comes to bedtime. “Begin early enough to get ready and have a settle down time to read a story. It should be consistent every school night. Children thrive on routine.”

On that note, reading to your elementary kids is an extremely vital part of a kids’ development. I admit it, I have gotten out of practice when it comes to reading to my kids now that they are at an age where they can read by themselves. Problem is, kids don’t always read on their own time. But there are reasons why kids need to be read to. It helps them to be able to hear more carefully the emotions involved in reading so that they can read the same way on their own. And Caren gave a point that I had never thought of, to use reading as an opportunity to “discuss the story and ask them to make predictions. Talk about the plot, the characters, the setting, and the problem and resolution. Ask what they liked or disliked and why. It’s important to stretch those summer-mode attention spans and re-spark those higher order thinking skills.”

Timeliness is another important factor, and it sets the tone for the day. It’s those extra few moments spent at home that can determine whether your child will be there on time, or if they will have to get a tardy slip. And being tardy not only reflects on your child’s school performance, it is incredibly disruptive to the class. The teacher must catch the tardy student up to speed while the rest of the class must wait. Santa Rosa mom, Kari Cagle, came up with a simple solution. She has her daughter, Kassidy, “put her outfit out the night before and pack up her backpack and homework the night before as well.” You can even go one step further and have the kids plan out their lunches, and pack as much as they can the night before. This way they aren’t wasting time standing in front of the refrigerator trying to decide what to eat. It also helps to have a lunch meal plan for the week, easily accessible on the refrigerator so that there is no guesswork involved.

Ask any teacher what their number one hope for every student is, and organization will be at the top of the list. Kari told me, “One thing we always do is restock her home supplies as well as her school supplies. It’s always a good idea to get them excited about homework. New fun things like new pens, pencils, color pencils, crayons, erasers and other supplies seems to get my girl in the mood to do homework. There’s nothing like breaking in a new crayon!” Another important tip is to “make up a homework kit,” Caren McLerran offered. “Have all of the pencils, erasers, crayons, scissors, glue, paper and folders that they will need for the year. Get a container to put the supplies in and figure out a quiet spot that will be designated as the “homework spot”. This way when they actually start getting homework they’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Homework should be done early and not right before bed when our brains are sleepy.”

High school teacher, Jessica Dennis, gave a different view, “Since I’m a high school teacher, it’s a little different, I suppose, because we treat students like mini-adults. You know, school is their “job” so once summer is over, they’re back on the clock, so to speak, and we simply expect them to start being responsible. Organization is obviously important, so it’s vital to have all the school supplies ready to go early on….but with high schoolers, they need to do it themselves, so parents shouldn’t dictate an organization system, but rather work with kids to develop one that works for them individually. Not all students can have immaculate binders, and not all kids can use a daily planner.”

In my family, the one item we cannot do without is our dry erase calendar. Listed on that calendar is every single thing we are doing each month. The kids know where we need to be at any given time, and that takes the surprise out of it. It helps them to prepare for the day, and to know what’s going on for tomorrow. If they have soccer practice the next day, they know that they are going to need a clean uniform and will have to locate their gear. If they have a book report or a project due, it is listed on the calendar so they can be aware of the date every day, and work towards being done by the due date.

Perhaps one of the most important tips is YOUR involvement in your child’s school life. Parents, even junior high and high school parents, need to keep involved at the school. It is important to meet and keep in contact with your child’s teachers, go to the PTA meetings, and attend Open House and Back to School night. To better understand your child’s workload, check your student’s planner and homework lists every night, and look at their homework. There will come a time when the work they are doing will surpass even your knowledge, but you can at least be familiar with what they are expected to learn. “The advice I’d have for my parents is to be excited for school to start, and to share that excitement with the kids,” Jessica Dennis said. “Talk about what this year is going to hold, and discuss ways your kids can get involved in the school community, whether through sports or clubs or other activities. A student who is “plugged in” will always be more successful than one who feels like they’re just going through the motions.”

It’s not like school is a kid’s favorite place to be. And no wonder when they have to break free from waking up in the afternoon and beating their high score on Guitar Hero. But with a little prompting and a lot of organization, school won’t be faced with feelings of dread. And this school year could be your child’s best year ever.

(See a version of this article in today’s Sonoma Living section of the Press Democrat)

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Have more tips on getting back into the school routine?  Share them here, or on the forums at SantaRosaMom.com.