Depending on where you live, the “First Day of School” might be just around the corner! And you know what that means.
It means that your Facebook and Instagram feeds are going to be full of cute pictures of kids holding printed signs that say “First Day of __ Grade!”
There will be new clothes, new back packs, new hair cuts, new school supplies and lots more!
And if you’re like a lot of homeschool moms I know, somehow those pictures bring up thoughts and feelings we weren’t prepared to face. Here are just a few.
We all desire to have special traditions in our family. Who doesn’t love the idea of taking pictures of our kids at certain regular intervals so that you can look back and compare how they’ve changed and grown? And many families find the first day of school (whether homeschool or traditional) to be a good time to do that.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from taking pictures anytime you want! But maybe your “first-day” happens in January. Or you school year-round, so there isn’t really a “first-day.”
Or your “first-day” is kind of hard to pinpoint because you start gradually and take a couple of weeks to work up to a full routine.
Do you feel like you’re missing out on a holiday everyone else is celebrating? Well, you’re the homeschool mom.
You can choose. If you want to pick a day (or maybe use the day all the school kids in your town start back) and take a picture, nothing’s stopping you.
But if you have a routine that’s working for your family, please don’t change everything up just so you can be in on the “first-day” picture deluge!
Clothes and Supplies
Whenever I see these pictures rolling in, I always feel a little sorry for my kids. I remember the excitement of back-to-school shopping.
New clothes, new shoes, new back pack, trapper keepers, glue, crayons (each labeled individually with my name or initials by my mother) and lots more. The newness and freshness were so exciting!
Again, there’s nothing stopping you from using that time of year (especially with all of the back-to-school sales) to refresh wardrobes and supply cabinets.
But please don’t tell yourself that your kids are missing out on something important if they’re all still wearing their summer clothes (or pajamas!) as you plop down in the living room to kick off the school year with a read aloud and some coloring (with the same old tub of crayons).
There are also perks to not having to put in the time and money to update everything at one time!
If you update the school supplies, that might make for a fun photo op. But perhaps the lack of fresh new outfits makes a picture seem kind of silly.
We’re not all decked out, standing on the front porch ready for the school bus, so what do we really have to memorialize in a photo? You’ve got two options.
You can just celebrate among yourselves that there’s no morning rush and no huge expense of preparing yourselves for the outside world on a particular day.
Or, you can be a little counter-cultural and take a “real-day-in-the-life” picture to share on social media that shows all your kids sprawled on the floor in their summer clothes, bathing suits, or pajamas, enjoying a first day that’s not all that shockingly different from regular life!
A Break for Mom
I think the thing that actually hits me the hardest is the contrast I see in what those “first-day” pictures represent for the schedules of the moms who share them. Sure, it’s a milestone for each of their children. But it also marks the end of summer vacation
Sure, it’s a milestone for each of their children. But it also marks the end of summer vacation when perhaps they had a lot more responsibility for their children on a daily basis.
Sometimes these first-day pictures are accompanied with sentiments like “Kids are off to school, and I’m off to my first yoga class since May!” or “Kids are on the bus; I’m here enjoying a quiet cup of coffee and deciding how to fill my free time!”
There’s just no escaping the fact that “back to school” isn’t really a relief and a break for the homeschool mom. Usually, the workload ramps up, not down, when school is back in session. And so it’s easy to be envious of what you read between the lines in those pictures.
Remember that no matter what educational choices we make for our kiddos, there are pluses and minuses. Nobody posts pictures of kids melting down because they have to get up earlier than usual. Or mom filling out piles of back to school paperwork. Or the grind of getting back into the homework routine after a long day with not a lot of free time. No mom really has an “easy” life.
This Day Isn’t Any Different
Here’s the bottom line, homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a choice. It’s a choice that we make for a wide variety of reasons. And yes, life looks a little different for homeschool families. But then again, we knew that going in, didn’t we?
Those first day of school pictures don’t really change anything. They just bring to the surface issues we may not have considered or may have ignored. Work through it. Talk to a mom who’s been a homeschooler for a while. And remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Trends on social media come and go. Our decision to homeschool has to be based on stronger stuff than that!