When the Kids Go Back to School: Parents Feel Sad, Glad…Relief?

Some area moms in Northern Virginia say they welcome a little extra ‘me time’ when the school year begins.

After weeks of going to the pool, cleaning up popsicle stains, applying sunscreen, arranging play dates, squirting ketchup onto hot dogs and burgers, picking up wet swimsuits and towels, and wiping off hands sticky from s'mores, some parents see the beginning of the school year as a much-needed breather from a long hot summer.

Many schools across Northern Virginia open their doors on Tuesday. At school bus stops and car drop-offs, moms and dads will likely experience a myriad of feelings after hugging their kids and waving goodbye.

Sad? Glad? Morose? Ecstatic? Guilt? Waiting to exhale? Apparently all of the above emotions are common among parents. 

The transition from summer to back-to-school time is a period for parents to catch their breath before sports, piano, karate, homework, PTA, scouts and other fall activities get seriously underway.

Patch recently polled some area moms to see how they’re feeling about the whole back-to-school transition this week.

“I think going back to school will be a relief for both of us,” said one Lorton mom who also works part-time.

“Because my daughter has ADHD (attention deficit disorder), she requires a lot of structure in her schedule,” she said. “…once July ended [and swim team was over], we really didn’t have any solid plans. It was the pool, play dates or hanging out at home. When those things started to bore her, I had to become incredibly creative.”

Some moms are glad school is starting back so they won’t feel guilty about working. “There are times when I'm up late at night finishing up projects because I didn't want her to have to spend hours in front of the television while I worked,” the mom from Lorton noted. “I put a lot of things on hold during the summer to be able to spend time with her.”

After waving goodbye to their kids at the school bus or at school, what will parents do first (those who aren’t heading straight to work, that is)?

Our unscientific poll uncovered plans for morning coffee get-togethers with friends, working out at the gym (“I don’t think they’ve seen me since June!” one mom reported), and mid-morning naps.

An Annandale mom whose two youngest children start 3rd and 4th grade on Tuesday and eldest started his freshman year in college last week, planned to get out of town on a girlfriends’ getaway this coming weekend “since I haven’t had any time to myself the entire summer; so I’m definitely looking forward to that!”

She also builds in a weekly Friday lunch date with her husband when school is in session (good idea!).

A Springfield mom said she definitely has mixed emotions this week. “I am sad my baby is going to kindergarten, but excited also. She is bored and getting into everything, so she needs to go! It will be strange to not have any kids at home after 8.5 years.”

With her new free time, with three kids in school during the day, she plans to catch up on work, run, “and I may actually be able to keep my house clean.”

In the end, she says “I have no idea what them all being in school will be like. It may be lonely in a quiet house all day or it might be bliss!”

Mary Porter, CHC September 07, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Great article Mary Ann. I know that my kids were excited to get back to school to see friends (and former teachers) that they hadn't seen over the summer. I'm always reluctant to see summer end (it's nice to sleep in), but the routine is great for all of us and, because we love our school - Hollin Meadows - it's also great for me to get back int he groove with the PTA and other parents. We're looking forward to a great year!
Mary Flaherty September 07, 2011 at 11:05 PM
All of the above! With both kids in preschool I have a whole 6 hours to myself every week. I like to be given the opportunity to miss my kids!


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