As I sit here stressing about how much work I have to do to get my 3 school aged children ready for school.  I thought of something, I am completely missing the point of the last week or two of summer and am I making going back to school stressful for my children?

As the mother, I have a ton of stuff I need to do to get them ready, shop for school supplies, get them registered for sports/activities, fill out bus forms, go to open houses, make sure they have their physicals, etc.  That is my job as a parent, however it shouldn't affect how they get to spend the rest of their summer vacation.  So, I was thinking, I can't possibly be the only parent who goes through this each year.  I want my children to look forward to starting school, to think of going back to school as an exciting event and looking back on a summer that was filled with fun and laughter.

So, I grabbed a book that has been collecting dust on a shelf above my desk for a while now and thumbed through it looking for ideas.  There weren't a lot of traditions relating to back to school, but there were some.  One of the ones was making the last day of summer special.   Some ideas? 

1: Go out to breakfast, look back over the summer, maybe bring a photo album of the fun things you did this summer.  Talk about the good (and bad) things that happened over the summer. 

2:Take one last swim in the lake or pool. 

3:Bake a cake and decorate it like a tombstone (not sure how I feel about that one) put RIP Summer of XX on it. 

4: Have your children make a card for his/her teachers for the first day of school.

5: Pick out the first day of school outfit.

I think there are so many things you could do to make the end of the summer special and fun.  Our favorite traditions are going to the State Fair each year (who doesn't do that in Minnesota!), we do have a lot of fun picking out our outfits for the first day, we pack up the backpacks, I make them a really special lunch for the first day of school and we try to let the children each pick out something they want to do one last time before going back to school.

For us, attending our schools open houses are so important to our children.  It gets them excited by meeting their new teachers, seeing their desks, being able to drop off their 100's of school supply items, and they get to see friends they haven't seen all summer.  What is also good about going to their open houses is you still have time to turn disappointment about the 'wrong teacher' or certain friends not being in their classes into a positive (always find a way somehow to make it a positive) before school starts so they don't start school with a bad attitude.

We also try and make each one of our children a special meal before school, or head to their favorite restaurant before school starts.  For us the past couple of years, our children have started at different times which has made it a much easier transition back to school.  Our 3rd child has started a week earlier than the other 2 for the past couple of years and it makes it fun for her to be with her friends and the other 2 feel like they still have a bit more summer left.

Our biggest family traditions that I think mean the most to the children (at least at their ages) are the first day photos by mom, Daddy sticking around in the morning and making whatever they want for breakfast, and for the older 2, the whole family walking them to the bus stop and meeting all the children and parents there.  Then, Daddy follows the bus to their schools and walks one child in then goes next door to the others school and walks them in.  They love that extra 'Daddy' time and he loves it too. 

For our 3rd school age child, since she starts a week earlier than everyone else, we all drive her to school and walk her into her class.  The older children love it, so does the baby and it gives us all time together as a family one last time before officially starting school. 

Your traditions don't have to be fancy, you don't need to take time off of work, but I think they are so important to our children to feel like it is special to be going back to school.  What are some of your traditions? 

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