Family life

Back-to-school preparation at my house isn't pretty

Forget Pinterest-perfect pictures: This is what back-to-school looks like in the Pinarski household.

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Jennifer sends her son, Isaac, off to his first day of school. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

Last year, I wrote an emotional post about my son starting the first grade. But maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve got this school thing mastered that today just feels like any other day of the week. Or maybe it’s because back-to-school preparation has been in my face for weeks.

Lunches:

I’m pretty sure I saw back-to-school lunch Pinboards in July. Slowly over the summer, my Facebook newsfeed started to look like what would happen if Iron Chef and Crayola had a love child reality show. Since when did radishes cut into flower shapes make kids actually want to eat them? And if I arranged free-range organic hard boiled eggs and strawberries to form a smiley face on a slice of pumpernickel bread (packed into a colour coordinated litterless lunch kit, naturally), my kid’s lunch bag is still going to look and smell like a port-o-potty by the afternoon nutrition break. Since when were carrot sticks and a Thermos of homemade mac and cheese passe? As @sharondv and @insatiablefood wisely said on Twitter, instead of making food pretty, can’t we just make it healthier?

Read more: School lunches: Fun printable meal planner >

Gear:

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who put their kid’s backpack through hot water and bleach (double rinse) in the washing machine because it smelled funny. It’s the same backpack he’s had since junior kindergarten; a ragged bag bought because it was the same colour as the school bus floor. In fact, the only new back-to-school gear I bought for my son was a new lunch box, because our irritable geriatric cat peed all over the one he’s used for the last three years — even I have standards.

Labels:

Having personalized labels on hand would mean that I’d actually thought about back-to-school more than three weeks ago. What’s wrong with Sharpies — that stuff NEVER washes off. For you crafty types, iron-on tape works! I think when I was in grade three my teacher may have called me Kim on more than one occasion, because that was the name written on the iron-on label on the collar of my snowsuit.

(Confession: I bought personalized labels for my son when he was in JK. I don’t think I used any of them, so his new lunch bag might be labelled — if I can find the leftover labels).

Clothes:

What is a micro-print? Apparently, it’s the must-have style this fall. I’m hoping micro-print is code for “the ground-in dirt from last year’s back-to-school clothes that still fit” because that is what my son is wearing on the first day of school. Hand-me-downs will be worn on the second day of school. His clothes will be clean and comfortable — definitely clean because they went through the same hot-water-bleach-double-rinse wash cycle as everything else in my house. Related: the irritable geriatric cat now has a new home.

No, back-to-school in my house isn’t picture perfect. We will have overslept because we didn’t follow except advice and set our alarms two minutes earlier each day for the last month. I won’t wake up extra early to carve honeydew into globe shapes or spell out their names with pancake batter. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find Kim’s shoes.