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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

It’s Okay to Be Thrilled Your Kids Are Going Back to School

By Christina Katz 

All across social media, it’s that time of year again. Of course, I’m talking about time to take the funny photo of kids looking gloomy about going back to school while the parents are jumping for joy. Of course, these photos are staged to the point where there seems to be a competition of who can jump the highest while looking the most crazy-happy. 

I even found a photo of a dad spraying a shaken-up bottle of champagne all over the driveway. How he missed the kids in their first-day-of-school best and the photographer is unclear. But what is clear is parents get giddy about sending kids back to school. And why shouldn’t we? 

If you are a work-at-home parent like myself, sending the kids, and in my case the husband, who is a teacher, back to school means getting hours upon hours of uninterrupted time in which to think, do chores, run errands, relax, work, and notice once again how quickly the time flies by before—boom—they are home again. 

If you are a stay-at-home parent with older and not-yet-school-age children at home, back-to-school means you have more time and energy for your little ones. And that’s great, because let’s face it, the oldest kids probably got more face-to-face time simply by virtue of being born first. 

What’s weird for me about back-to-school season is how many parents don’t seem to understand the yin and yang of it. So many seem to feel the need to apologize for how cheerful they feel. Based on how much some parents apologize, feeling giddy about school starting must mean you hate your kids and never want to see them again. 

Come on, guys, feeling happy about kids going to school doesn’t mean you hate your kids. Parents should be allowed to experience the gamut of feelings about our kids without pressure to constantly apologize for how we feel. 

These are our kids. They push our buttons sometimes. We push their buttons sometimes. That’s called being a family. I don’t think it’s a crime for even the most devoted, loving parents to dance a tiny or even a huge jig when school starts. And if parents continue to behave as though they are in a Broadway musical or a Disney princess movie throughout the entire first month of school, bursting into song and dance right after the door shuts or the bus pulls away or the carpool winds down, we should not judge them. 

As a work-at-home parent, I enjoy those six uninterrupted hours I am virtually guaranteed during the school year. But, whether it’s Thanksgiving or winter, spring, or summer break, I am always happy to have my family around. As long as they don’t plan on sticking around for, like, ever. As long as the vacation has an expiration date, variety is good. But when vacation is over, it’s “Okey-doke, off you go!” 

So let your summers shake things up like that dad’s bottle of champagne, and then let the school year settle things down. Because let’s face it, having six totally flexible hours a day can get old. Okay, well, that last line wasn’t true. But everything else I’ve said so far has been utterly sincere. I enjoy being with my family and I enjoy their absence, which always makes my heart grow fonder. 

And now, if you will excuse me, it’s time for me to flit about my house in my pajamas while being followed by imaginary cartoon birds and butterflies that exist only to do my bidding. They are inviting me to eat bon-bons or go back to bed or dance naked throughout the house or just do whatever I want to do. 

Oh, wait a sec. I may have misunderstood. They are actually inviting me to get to my desk pronto and get to work, because apparently my productivity took quite a dip over the summer. And now they are pointing out the pile of back-to-school bills that have been accumulating over the past few weeks. So, if we are done here, I’d better get busy. After all, I’ve only got six hours. 

Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz has been gleeful about back-to-school her entire life, so dancing this little jig is nothing new. Except for having to pay all the bills—that part came later.