Today marks one whole week of the kiddos being back at school—and lemme just stop for a moment to do a praise dance while I sing,
“The Lord has brought me to a land flowing with milk and honey and QUIET!”
Hallelujer, He is Good!
In spite of this newfound glee, I have to tell y’all that back to school gives me so much anxiety. I won’t feel like we’ve hit our groove until Oct and maybe by Christmas break I’ll have this getting the kids up and out the door, filling out forms, signing reading logs, and homework helping thing, under control. Even though the kiddos have been back to school for a week, I don’t feel like we’ve transitioned fully into the school year. So I’ve decided to offer myself grace and consider the first four weeks back as “back to school”.
In this season I’m going to do several things:
- Look at our budget for things like book orders, extracurricular activities, and clubs.
- Purge the closets and hit up a consignment store sale.
- And plan a back to school email day.
Have y’all noticed that in the first few weeks of school you’re constantly pouring out information about you, your kids, y’all’s schedule, you and your partner’s blood type and weight, the kids’ food preferences, your preferred route home, and who you’re voting for this election cycle? No? What’s wrong with your school district?
But, really…it’s non-stop, right?
I’m noticing that now. Every evening my kids come home with a form that needs clarifying or a question from their teacher or I remember something the school counselor should know so off I go to my laptop to send another email to the school. Add that to the “Can you believe the kids have to…” email (or text) rant-fests of an email and it feels like I’m bleeding words about back to school on a screen.
Last night, I decided that I’m wrangling the madness with a concerted time of emailing about the school year to create borders of peace around this stressful season.
Here Are The 5 Emails I Send for Back-to-School Shalom
1: Sistas With Kids In School…Squad up!
This email is specifically to rally my people to see how we can tackle the new school year together. Some things I know I’ll need is a weeknight dinner potluck with another mom. My husband works late a few night a weeks and on those nights the evening schedule just falls completely apart. There’s something about eating Ramen or cereal for dinner that makes my kiddos lose their ever-loving minds, while I hiss in Parseltounge:
ssssssssssstooooppppp FIGHTING and GET in BED!
If you can’t tell— I hate that mid-week chaos. So, I’m inviting a friend whose husband works late too, to bring her kiddos over for dinner. We’ll pool our resources — she brings the salad and capri suns, I make the lasagna, we go in on a great bottle of wine and eat a homecooked together. Then they go home, I get the kids bathed and showered and when hubs walks in, there’s actual dinner for him (and not a bowl with a spoon and sticky note that says, “go for what ya, know) and a BIG glass of wine for me! C’mon you can’t win back to school better than that, right?
So Sista, what would help you this school year? You might need a clothing swap, homework help, or to be added to the carpool. Before sending this email, I sit down and write out all the things that bring me anxiety, then I invite my friends to help relive those. I also offer my help too! In the email I ask how their doing, what their needs are, how I can pray, and offer to maybe organize a couple of meet ups over the first semester to support and examine our needs as women who want to see and experience peace in our lives.
2: Advocating for My Baby
Since our whole n-word situation at my son’s school last year, I’m not afraid to speak up on behalf of my kiddos. I send this email to the teacher and/or principal/counselor about something I know my child would need to thrive this school year. For instance, our family’s personal conviction is to not place our hands over heart when we say the pledge. If the teacher knows this ahead of time she won’t correct my kiddos in front of their friends or think they’re being disrespectful. The key to this email though, is my tone and posture. I want to communicate “how can we be on the same team” not, “make sure you don’t jack up my baby, m’kay?”
3: Whatcha Need, Teach?
This is a separate email from advocacy email. I didn’t want to mix them because they have two different objectives. This one is all about the teacher. What are her needs, what are her preferences, what supplies does she NOT want to buy this year AT ALL, how can I support her. I’m not offering to be room mom, just her advocate. I love the “My Favorite Things” pdf (above) from Etsy. I attached it to all the emails and asked the teachers to send it to me in my kids’ folders as they get a chance to fill it out. You can also send it in an envelope with a welcome back card, if that’s your jam.
Middle School is a little tricky because they don’t have folders and the “my favorite things” notion feels a little juvenile, so I just gave them my cell number and told them if they’re having a rough morning and could use a coffee, text me. I’ll grab it on my way to drop the kiddos off and deliver it to them. I’m excited about this because I want to be empowered to care for the people who are caring for my babies.
4: Dear Mrs. President
This one is a little tricky because it requires knowing my limits and wording things very clearly. As scary as the notion may be, I emailed our PTA president or parent rep to introduce myself, my students, and offer my help. PTA exists to enrich our kiddos’ experience at school and for the most part, they are led by some really amazing parents. I think PTA gets a bad rep because of the many, many, many emails for help or the anxiety-laden requests from members at drop off. My practice of peace here is to be the peace before the desperation hit the fan. If I send the first email, introduce myself and tell her I only have space to do one thing in the fall (not the whole year, I’ll send another email in the spring) so please send some suggestions, then when I say, “yes!” it’s a “heck yes” and not and “errr…ok….I guess”. This is the most sustainable way I can be apart of campus life for my kids without losing my Christianity at a PTA meeting, quitting dramatically, and then running against the president on a “Bad Mom” platform. Let’s not embarrass Jesus this school year, shall we?
5: Sign Me Up
This is for my own personal growth while the kid are at school. Wanna know my nerdy confession: I’m always a little jealous of them when they go back. I think about all the new things they’re going to learn and I simply can’t stand it. I want the new of back to school too! So, one of the best ways I can care for myself is to use this season to decide what new thing I want to learn. I made a list of things: mixology, building a “Shalom in the City” up to be a source of encouragement for you, salsa, and discussing Nouwin’s, “Life of the Beloved” with girlfriends. Then I started emailing around to find groups or classes. So far, I’ve got the book club, salsa, and an internship with a major lifestyle brand all in my schedule. What do you want to sign up for this season, Sista?
So these are the emails that gave me a sense of peace and excitement this school year. I think one of the reasons we feel snowballed by back to school is because we feel so completely out of control in the transition. With a little planning, some conversations with your people, and these five emails, I hope you can truly enjoy the peace and quiet that having the kiddos back at school can bring.
Shalom and Emails,