Back-To-School: This Year Will Be Different

We will be organized! And disciplined! And punctual!

back to school organization

Parents of the world: We are halfway home.

One month of summer vacation is down and there’s one month to go. Even though I feel like I’m just starting to settle into some semblance of a summertime routine, the kids are like, “School? Wha?” They can barely even remember a time when we’d get up at the crack of dawn, speed shovel cereal down our throats, yank on layers of microfleece and then dart out into the subzero embrace of a Canadian morning.

Uh, tell me again why I miss that?

Right, it’s because my kids walked in on me approximately 67 times while I wrote that last paragraph. It’s because the structure and routine and, yes, the early mornings are good for us. It’s because I know I’m not sufficiently engaging and challenging them intellectually during the summer. I’m never fully working, never fully parenting and never, ever conquering that mountain of laundry.

And that’s okay too. It’s good to have a break. I am blown away by their prolonged, independent and imaginative play. Even the not-quite-two-year-old is happy to entertain herself for a solid 30 minutes as long as her sibs are within eyeshot. I’m even more stunned that I’m able to meet my own deadlines (kinda, sorta, barely.)

But Imma let you in on a little secret. It is mad chaos around here. We eat whenever. Bedtimes are later and later. Grocery shopping happens in quick little $25 spurts here and there so we never really have any food. Take out is my best friend. Somebody is always missing a shoe on the way out the door. And I think we’ve broken our own record on the lost sunhat front.

You can relate, right? Oh god, please tell me you can relate.

So I can’t help but cast a wistful eye toward September and think about how the new routine will make everything hum again. I imagine myself getting up at 5am for a morning jog to kick start the day. (At some point I will start exercising, right?) I’ll then be able to put in a solid, non-interrupted hour of work before making the children a wholesome breakfast, packing their bags and seeing them off for the day. (Er, it’s a half day for my two youngest but I will still take it!) I imagine immaculately organized bedrooms and children who happily dress themselves. I imagine a mud room with shoes and bags and jackets lined up with military (or Montessori, even) precision. Oh, how I imagine the big whiteboard calendar in the kitchen, filled in and colour coded. It’s the most beautiful vision I’ve ever had.

Sure, every once in a while a niggling voice creeps up and reminds me of what last year really looked like. “Who do you think you’re kidding, woman?” it will say. “You are the same person who missed your kids’ show-and-tell not once, but twice last year. And have you even bothered to update that immunization record yet? They could start the year suspended.” It speaks the truth, but it’s really not very nice.

September is our New Year, parents. It doesn’t matter how badly things fell apart last year. This year will be different. We will be organized! And disciplined! And punctual! And it is absolutely not too early to start thinking about it, because the kind of Platonic ideal of a school year we envision takes weeks of planning.

I’m sure I will be ready this year. If only the kids weren’t around, I could really make it happen.

You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.

Rebecca is a Toronto-based writer and mom blogger.

She laughs at herself at Playground Confidential, if only to keep from crying. Please pull up a seat and let her shortcomings be your entertainment.

Rebecca’s writing has appeared in Today’s Parent,, Spacing, Eye Weekly, and among other publications.