Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To School

I know just how the kids feel. After taking the summer off, I am here at my computer, 7:30 AM restarting my blog. I feel groggy, anxious, excited, and impatient, with just a touch of dread, knowing that once I start writing again, I have signed on for the year. 

The most fun your teen is having now is picking out just the right outfit to make just the right new impression for this new school year. Thinking about academics....not so much. You on the other hand are obsessed with who their new teachers are, what are their expectations of the students, how many clubs/athletic teams your kids will sign up for,  and are your teens using the agenda books the schools so generously gave to your teen to stay organized? You are full of goals for your teen: honor roll, good citizen of the year, most valuable player, early to bed early to rise, etc., etc., etc. They on the other hand, are wondering who their best friend will be, will they find a fun party to go to on the weekend, worries that they won't make the team, get a part in the school play, or win election as a class officer. Homework, grades, pleasing teachers, getting to bed early enough to get up on time are not taking up much space in the old noggin.

Asking a thousand questions at the end of each school day will yield scant results, and instead your teen will probably reward you with more of the "leave me alone" responses. Your teen is overwhelmed as this new year starts. As a new middle schooler, high schooler, 10th grader or whatever "grader" there are a new things that are expected of him/her. Be more mature, grades really matter, college is getting closer, what if no one likes me, what if I can't get a boy/girl friend are just a few of the things that consume him/her. Asking a thousand questions just makes them feel more overwhelmed. Be patient, you will get the answers to those questions, just one at a time, and in a more casual way. When you bring in their laundry maybe say "hey so whats the deal with tryouts, or that English teacher, or History class? Pick one area of interest, and in a non-desperate tone, ask your question.

But here is the thing, they do need your help in setting limits on themselves as it relates to homework and sleep. They have had a summer of excess, too much sleep, unlimited friend access,  and texting/video games/facebook time. Like all addictions, any limitations will make them a little crazy, but crazy they must get, cause limitations they must have. So here goes my "back to school" crazy making, you gotta do list.
  1. No cell phone to bed/during homework time/during school day. All carriers allow you to set up times that the phone can be shut off and turned back on. Doing this means that you don't have to constantly argue with your teen to give you the phone or get off the phone, or shut the phone off! It is automatic. Your I Get It Moment: "I get that getting back to school will be hard. You have not had to be on a schedule, and have been able to be in touch with your friends all the time. Having to get back to homework, and getting a good night sleep will be an adjustment. The phone can be a big distraction to both. So give me an hour when having it off to do work or just be quiet with yourself will be OK, and lets figure out the time you want to go to bed, and the phone will be shut off from then until 6 AM. Also we will be shutting your phone off during school time. Texting can be a distraction, worrying about who you will be texting as soon as you get out of class, takes away from being present in the class you are in. I know this will be an adjustment for you but we want you to have a good year, and if you hate us a little for this, we can handle it. We love you and want you to be the best you can be.
     2. Facebook/Formspring/Skype or any other social networking site. These also need to be disabled for the same hour you are shutting off the phone. These sites are ENORMOUSLY distracting!!!!!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. I am not a techi, so go out and find one and have them tell you how to shut them off during homework time. Again badgering your teen to get off them and do their homework will not work.  That in and of itself becomes a distraction. "Get off facebook!"  "I WILL, leave me alone!"

That's my list. Its short and simple. Now go get a cup of coffee, and sit back and enjoy the quiet now that the kids are gone!

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