So here we are … summer is officially coming to a close, despite my efforts to cling to it by my fingernails. To give you an idea about how we approach summer here in my house, picture one big house party. The rowdy kind where chips get ground into the carpet and you’re the hostess, but there are people walking through your house that you have never met. The kind of party that is legendary and lives on in stories that are told time and again and leaves you in need of a bouncer to clear out the place at the end of the night. Our summer was actually like a string of those parties — one after another — with time in between where you just crash and sleep as much as possible and eat greasy food to recover and fortify yourself for the next event.
In other words: My kids had fun. Perhaps too much fun.
And as you can imagine, living like this means we have finally hit the wall here, my friends. The wall is made up of backpacks that are still packed from the last day of school in June, kids who are staying up until all hours of the night and emerge still sleepy around lunch time, a mom who says yes to sleepovers and trips to the movies and crazy dinner requests, because SUMMER. We have to knock down this wall in order to get to the other side — on which school and schedules and proper nutrition and an orderly, responsible existence presides.
If you are like me and have waited until the last possible second to get your people ready, you are going to need to step it up as if you were the bouncer closing down the joint at 2 AM. In this house, that bouncer is called Rule Mom. She’s been missing for months. To become her once again, you too are going to need to follow a few simple guidelines.
1. Assert your authority.
Remember: You are in charge here. You may have been binge-watching Parks and Rec on Netflix with your offspring all summer long, but you have to put on your big kid undies and put a stop to this nonsense right now. They will milk this craziness for all it is worth right into the school year if you let them. It’s time to say no to the late nights, the constant snacking, and the sleeping in until all hours. They will try and tempt you with one more episode and a plate of nachos, but stand firm. You are in charge here and it is up to you to get the train back on its track.
Forget about being popular.
There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth when Rule Mom enters the scene. Kids will plead for one more sleepover just like I used to plead for one more song on the dance floor. There will be arguing, door slamming, and general sassiness. You’ve got to take it, my friend. You will not be popular, but you got everyone into this mess and you have to MOM your way out of it. Channel your inner June Cleaver and you may just win them back with healthy dinners, laundry that is done and folded before it takes over the house, and that new pair of school shoes they have been eyeing up.
3. Cut your losses.
There are things you haven’t done this summer, fun you haven’t had. That’s OK — leave the past in the past; moving on doesn’t mean you have failed at fun. It’s been a good run my friend. Memories have been made, rules have been bent and broken, and summer has been a success. But you can’t make it through a school year on bent rules and Netflix. It’s time for a schedule — and wishing you were at the lake eating s’mores for dinner isn’t going to help anyone. Reminisce if you must, but do so before 9 PM and then have your people in their beds. You’ll need that extra time to fill in the calendar with all the after school activities that are about to take over what were once your fun summer nights.
4. Model good behavior.
It’s time to show them how it’s done. And really, won’t you feel a little better for it? The bags under my eyes from the late nights, the extra 5 (okay, 10) pounds from thinking I can snack like a high-school kid right along with them, the sleeping in and convincing everyone including myself that leftover pizza is a perfectly fine breakfast … this all has to end. You have to be the first one to take the leap, put yourself to bed, go back to the routine of smoothies in the morning and add yoga back in before the sun comes up. We will all feel better and be able to drag these people along if we are already on board.
And then there’s this: Once you get your people back on board, it will be much easier to tackle all that back to school planning. It’s time to shop, for one thing. You’ll have to hit clearance aisle for the supplies, because you can’t possibly have bought anything early (the backpacks were still packed from last year until yesterday, good grief). A last minute Amazon scramble might also be in order, because good luck finding both graphing paper and poster putty at this late a date. Don’t even try; just Amazon Prime that stuff right to your door. Prime pantry will get you every Clorox Wipe and Kleenex that school could possibly need at a nice little discount. Dropping the bajillion dollars in school fees and supplies is always better if you can do so from your couch.
See? In just four easy steps, you have gone from the life of party to a mom who has scheduled children, meal plans, and backpacks filled with shiny new supplies. Add in a back-to-school outfit for your now well-rested children (if you haven’t had to take out a second mortgage by this point) and you are ready to rock this year.
We’ve got this, my friends.
Now please excuse me while I hide out in my closet to finish the last season of Parks and Rec on my phone …