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A Back-to-School Pep Talk For Moms

It’s that time of year: the leaves are changing, there’s a slight chill in the air, you haven’t put away the shorts just yet but you mean to and you’ll probably get to it soon. The phrase “chunky sweaters” is returning to your vocabulary, you are starting to stomach conversations about Halloween costumes with your eager children, and you notice “pumpkin spice” featured in every drink or dessert at every eatery. It’s happening. You can’t deny that school is just barely beginning and you’ve got time to adjust. It’s already here. IT’S HAPPENING.

The middle of September is when I take a deep breath and lean into the schedule. It’s when I try to convince myself (with peppy optimism) that I actually LIKE reading logs, and signing planners, and reminding my kids to practice the piano. It’s a great idea to sign disclosure documents and go back to the school at night to meet my five kids’ 27 teachers and learn their classroom expectations and yearly schedules. I can pretend because it’s early in the year. But while there’s no talking me out of the despair that March brings (including rants about the effectiveness of aforementioned reading logs, planners, and lessons), TODAY IT’S SEPTEMBER!

This I feel myself slipping into despair earlier than usual. No matter all my planning, and carefully not trying to over-schedule my kids (no joke), things are already out of control. I have five kids, ranging from 2nd grade to a senior in high school (yes, that’s weird). My kids all have a couple of activities each, which adds up quickly. Despite all my careful attempts to make sure that piano lessons aren’t on the same day as scouts, or tumbling isn’t at the same time as football practice, it’s unraveling. My 10-year-old son’s coach has already changed three times and practice days and times have subsequently changed multiple times. Two of my sons have games at the same time on the same day every week. And my oldest son’s work schedule changes from week to week, invalidating that organized (and maybe color-coded) part of my plans. This scheduling-five-kids thing is a game I will never win.

I need a pep talk.

Here is my attempt at one:

Fall Break is coming up and you can sleep in then. We don’t have to go anywhere. Halloween is fun, and then comes Thanksgiving and then Christmas. You have so much to look forward to! Children thrive under structure. They can miss a practice or two and it will be okay. Pace yourself. Maybe start ordering pizza on Tuesday. Maybe one of them will really take to the piano and thank you for the lessons someday. Hold on to that thought. Fall TV shows are coming back on.

I think that a lot of “mothering truths” are found in September. Mothering starts with excitement, baby showers, and big ideas, and then turns into real, daily work. How many times do I think I have everything planned out, only to be reminded that outside forces have to be balanced to meet those objectives? How many times will outside sources force me to adapt in uncomfortable ways? How many times do I have to learn the same lessons?

A plus?—at least my shows are starting up again.


A Back-to-School Pep Talk For MomsFor more family tips and a healthy dose of parenting humor, check out Lisa Valentine Clark's book, Real Moms: Making it Up As We Go available now at Deseret Book.

As moms, we improvise. We get along. We make things work. And we make a lot of things up as we go along because, let’s face it, no manual is ever going to cover all the bases a real mom needs to touch. But if laughter and perspective and a renewed energy to face the day are what you’re after—if you too are a “real mom”—this is the book for you!


Lead image from iStock