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Beating the Back-to-School Blues: Top 5 ways to Survive Back-to-School When Your Kids Aren’t School Age

By on Aug 20, 2013

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It’s back to school for what seems to be every kid I know…except mine. Now that Zoe is 2 years and 6 months and Jada is now a 1 year old, I’ve officially gone through 2 Fall seasons in which the back-to-school commotion has made me feel left behind.

Jada’s “NEW” Back-to-School Apple Hat

At the start of the school year, the parents of school age kiddies can finally breathe a sigh of relief; no more stressing over how to keep the kids alive and happy for the remainder of the summer. Working parents head to work with added pep in their step and stay-at-home parents can enjoy breakfast instead of wolfing it down.

Everyone is home free…except the Mom’s and Pop’s of tots.

Now don’t get me wrong, some Mom’s and Pop’s of tots have their kids in year-round daycare, Montessori schools and Nanny-shares so this might not apply to them. But for this Mom (and for others like me) the back-to-school buzz summons anxiety about the now limited indoor and outdoor kid activities available, the onslaught of inclement weather and the potential for social isolation.

Sound familiar? Then the following 5 survival tips are for you!

1. Enroll your Tot in a Park District Program

The Chicago Park District has a ton of programming for kids in the city. While some classes have age restraints, you’ll still find something for little ones as young as 6 months. Gymnastics, Tumbling, Dance, Music and Movement and a host of other classes are available at incredibly reasonably prices. Zo-zo at age 2.5 is currently enrolled in Tennis and Dance classes, and Jada is enrolled in an instructor -lead playgroup! The only caveat to park district programming is that classes are location specific, and hence, may require that you travel across town to participate. Still, a healthy and tired tot at the end of the day is well worth the extra 15 minute ride.

2. Join a group at your church or community center
I attend Moody Church here in Chicago which does an awesome job of supporting its Mommy members. The church offers 2 classes of note that come with $5 babysitting by background checked and approved child workers (score and score)! I’ll be attending Mom-to-Mom this Fall (a class that focuses on God-centered parenting and even throws in a little bit of supportive wife 101), as well as Precepts (a bible study class for women of all ages which focuses on practical application too). These two classes will (a) provide opportunity to socialize with other Moms and women (b) provide opportunity to get your learn on and (c) provide cheap safe babysitting for 2 hours! I’m lovin’ it!

(note: I’m sure there are father versions of the above…I just haven’t had need to look for them.) 

3. Head to the Library
The girls and I have re-discovered the Public library!!! Each library (at least in Chicago) hosts Storytime for tots! It usually includes sing-alongs, finger play and 2-3 stories read by your local librarian. The kids love the entertainment and they get to meet new friends.

And what’s a trip to the library without checking out books! Somehow I’ve adopted the crazy habit of buying all of Zoe and Jada’s books but I’ve since come to the realization that borrowing them from the library is a much more sustainable option. They cost less (because they’re free to borrow) and even if Zoe loves a book so much that she wants me to read it again…and again…and again, I don’t mind because we return it the following week! Sane Mommy = Sane Babies!

4.  Go to a museum, playroom or host a playdate with another Momma (or Papa) you know
Remember that nice Momma (or Papa) you met at the park, but never called up for a playdate? Well now is the time to do it! I’ve approached, cold-called and emailed a number of Mommy strangers I’ve met over the last couple years, and now I have an awesome group of friends with kids!

Fall is the perfect time for field trips to playrooms, the zoo, aquarium and a host of other kid friendly places. You’ll find very few school kids (so food and fun lines are short), you won’t have a hot flash toting your stroller around town and your fellow stay-at- home Momma (or Papa) is totally stir crazy for a little companionship. So call ’em up…I promise they’ll answer (or call you back during nap-time).

5.  Take up knitting, dust off the toys, and stock up on healthy snacks
Okay…so maybe knitting isn’t your thing, but doing something creative with your hands is both fun and it encourages your little one to use his or her imagination too. You can also re-introduce forgotten toys or purchase an educational app game (for the little techies out there) that will get them learning and having fun. And for God’s sake…stock up on the healthy snacks! A hyped up sugar baby is the last thing that you need when you’re hanging out at home…alone. Capisce!

So that’s my two-cents. I hope it helps you beat the BaCk -To-sChoOl Blues….I’m already feeling better!

Everyone deserves back-to-school gear…
(top view of apple hat)
…even if they are rotten apples
(side view of apple hat with squirmy worm)

What activities do you do with your kiddies?

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