life Parenting

One Thing at a Time

August 15, 2023

I am mostly caught up at work!! I was able to get my inbox to — not quite zero, but close, and I’m pretty sure I will be back to baseline by Friday if not sooner. I am grateful to my colleagues who put out a few (very minor) fires, and would totally go on a 2 week vacation again, if I ever accumulate enough vacation time to do so.

All that said, I felt really anxious going into work yesterday. I think I had unreasonable expectations for the past weekend, including those related to how I wanted our house look and feel like at the start of the school year. But truthfully I am realizing this deadline mindset was entirely artificial. I may be itching to organize and declutter, but there’s no one auditing the kids’ craft area or their closets other than me. And yes there are some emails to reply to in my personal inbox, but nothing is dire. I can get to it when I get to it. Planner recommendations are generally not emergencies. Even though sometimes they feel that way (and I get it 🙂 ).

I need to take my time and just do a little bit at once — I am truly overwhelmed by the kids’ messy rooms and piles of clothing that needs to be donated. But those little 15 minute decluttering sessions I was having success with last month will add up, and it won’t feel like so much. Also re: email, ultimately I will either catch up or declare partial (personal) email bankruptcy and start fresh (I haven’t had to do this, but I actually think it can be a helpful tactic in desperate times).

AND, maybe (maybe?) we will eventually get back onto a normal Eastern time zone pattern. Right now I’m entirely exhausted from a dysfunctional sleep cycle (both parents + kids) which is not helping matters at all.

On that note, despite physical surroundings that are very much a work in progress, I’m mentally and emotionally ready for school to start . . . now! I thought the post-vacation week off would be nice for the kids but every single unstructured day just seems to prove to me that they NEED some structure, and (maybe just as much) I need structure for them. I was feeling guilty about the amount of screen time they had over the weekend, but . . . honestly, we were all tired. I was tired, the kids were tired, and pretty soon everyone will be super busy and there just won’t be so much time for screens and lying around. A certain blog friend reassured me that a few lazy days will not ruin them forever (seriously thank you, I needed that!).

This was our only outing on Sunday and it lasted mayyyyybe 20 minutes before someone decided it was too hot and tantrums ensued


  • Reply Sarah August 15, 2023 at 7:03 am

    Our daily club sportsball things are over (except dance try outs, and they wrap in a couple days), and the kids are at loose ends– also SO SO SO ready for school to start. BUT WE HAVE WEEKS. Gah.

  • Reply Elisabeth August 15, 2023 at 9:43 am

    We have 1.5 weeks of flex time before school starts (we don’t go back until after Labour Day, but the next two weeks have activities), and I am starting to panic a bit.

    I have very lax rules around screen time. We do a lot of activity with the kids – family walks, trips to the beach etc, but have basically no set limits on screens. They might go several days with nothing, but then spend the majority of a weekend day watching shows and movies. I’m okay with it. My parents mostly used the same approach and were it not for having a husband that loves movies, I’d probably watch…nothing?! now as an adult. I understand the pitfalls of screens, but this is one area of my life I’ve just let go and I feel like pretty naturally (through the kids wanting a change or just having a fullish schedule), it’s not an excessive amount of screen time.

    • Reply Omdg August 15, 2023 at 1:15 pm

      We are also pretty lax with screen time but have found that if we don’t set a real limit at bedtime she will be on it all night.

      • Reply Elisabeth August 15, 2023 at 5:58 pm

        YES! Our kids don’t have access to screens at night. Neither has a phone (12 and 8); sometimes they will watch a movie before bed (usually on Saturday nights), but that’s over before they go to sleep. Most of the time, it’s a morning thing (again, Saturday) or afternoon thing (summer vacation). I find our evenings fill up with extracurriculars.

  • Reply Noemi August 15, 2023 at 10:11 am

    I also have been stressed about the state of my house lately, mostly because “it should be neat and clean to start the school year” is an expectation I’ve created for myself. I get that I think that because I do have a smidge more time right now than I will once we all start school again, but I also can’t seem to get it done right now and that is okay too. Right now I seem to need the decompression time in the moment and I’m trying to honor that, and not let the messaging about needing to start the school year a certain way make that decompression impossible.
    And ditto to kids and unstructured time. I felt some guilt about our margin-less summer (trips stacked right up against camps) and considered pulling them from their last week of camp, but when we finally had a weekend home with no plans they were losing their minds. I am so glad they were in camp last week, it was absolutely the right move. And today, after their well visits, they will have nothing to do before they start school tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll be just as relieved that they are out the door early on Wednesday.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns August 15, 2023 at 10:22 am

    I am glad the return from your 2-week vacation went well overall! I haven’t taken more than a week off since having kids and before that, my only lengthy vacation was our honeymoon. My husband does NOT love long stretches off, even before we had kids! But he may change his mind when the kids are older and we visit places that warrant a longer vacation. We both work at companies/in departments that feel very understaffed so that is part of the problem. Neither of us can seem to fully take a break from work for a variety of reasons. But I have a new hire starting in September so help is on the way for me at least.

    The summer program for our oldest wraps up next week so we’ll have a 2 week gap in care. He’ll spend a week at my parents and then we’ll piece together care for the other days. But I am sure he’ll end up having more screen time than is ideal for some of those days… More screen time definitely leads to more, um, outbursts/not great behavior. But I’m keeping in mind that it’s temporary. In hindsight, I should have looked into back-up care options that are available to me through work but holy cow, it requires SO MANY FORMS. I tried to start the process when we were in a pinch in February and got so overwhelmed by the process and gave up… but I should restart that so we can try using that for any gaps next year.

  • Reply Irene August 15, 2023 at 11:13 am

    We will have about 5 days between the return of from vacation and the start of school (including k for my youngest). We have had a couple down days which I was looking forward to but the kids are both off behaviorally and I don’t know how much we are enjoying it. Im going to try for some playdates and things after vacation so they are at least split up (!!!). I love you for admitting your kids still have tantrums. My youngest is having the worst tantrums of his entire life- I think it’s stress about starting kindergarten but it’s so discouraging. Seems like most kids are past that by 5…

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2023 at 11:20 am

      We are having plenty of 5 year old tantrums – you are NOt alone there!

    • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns August 15, 2023 at 12:27 pm

      Chiming in to say our 5yo has also had tantrums! It’s been a summer of transition for him so I figure that is why he’s been acting out? So it might be more common than you think. People just probably don’t talk about it as they think they are the only one with a tantruming 5yo!

    • Reply Amy August 15, 2023 at 3:05 pm

      Oh yes! My oldest (now 11) had tantrums daily until he was 6. He’s just an intense, emotional person and it takes a certain level of maturity to be able to master that without regular meltdowns. It will get better!

      • Reply Irene August 15, 2023 at 4:36 pm

        Wow thank you guys for being so honest. Honestly it’s really nice to know I’m not alone. My oldest had k the COVID year which had its own issues obviously but I think the transition was not as stressful so this is a bit new for us. Anything is better than virtual k again, I guess…

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2023 at 5:37 pm

          With g, I don’t even think it’s K transition related bc she’s returning to the same classroom so things aren’t changing much (Montessori early childhood is ages 3-6 and includes K, next year will be a much bigger transition for her). I think it’s more summer / less structure / irregular sleep / more screen time. But it’s been rough lately!!!!

  • Reply A August 15, 2023 at 3:13 pm

    Fellow parent of a 5 year old who is starting kindergarten next week and we are still very deep in the weeds on tantrums. His older sister was also like this and has chilled out significantly at nine, but I remember the fall of her kindergarten year being completely exhausting for all of us.

  • Reply Grateful Kae August 15, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    Awww, any time! Always happy to cheer you on. ☺️☺️

  • Reply Svetlana August 15, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    My 6-year-old (just turned 6 in June) is getting ready to start first grade, and has been throwing tantrums almost daily for the last few weeks. We had her in several different camps, so maybe the frequent changes also didn’t help matters. I’m hoping they subside after the school year begins, but we’ll see.

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