Family life

Why I can't wait for my kids to go back to school

As summer comes to a close, Susan Goldberg wonders how her sons will adjust to their new back-to-school routine.

1BackToSchoolRoutine-August2013-iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Thunder Bay, Ont. writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.

In less than a week (not that I’m counting) my children will head back to school. This is a good thing — I think we’re all ready for a slightly more stable routine after a summer of constant change. I’ve loved our adventures, I really have, but I’m ready to be in one city now; to not have to navigate a different day camp or childcare or travel situation each week, and to sleep in my own bed for more than a week and a half at a time.

We don’t have to do a lot to get ready for school — maybe pick up a couple new pairs of sneakers and some less grimy lunch kits, sort through all the clothes (we hit the motherlode in terms of hand-me-downs this year; both kids have fall wardrobes that rival mine and we haven’t had to spend a penny), and start penciling in soccer tryouts and music lessons on the calendar.

Read more: Back-to-school prep >

The biggest transition, though, is going to be getting Rowan and Isaac in bed — and asleep — before 11 p.m.

It started on our camping trip of a couple of weeks ago. We fell into the rather lovely pattern of all crawling into our tent around 10 p.m. and falling asleep together, sometimes even holding hands. I was pleasantly surprised when both kids slept in well past eight o’clock every day. I’m not exaggerating when I say that they have NEVER done that. Isaac in particular has tended for years to wake at the crack of dawn and crawl into our bed, where he vibrates and whispers questions and generally makes it impossible to sleep until one of us finally gives up and stumbles downstairs to make him breakfast. I used to marvel when people talked about how hard it was to get their kids up in the mornings, while I long for the day when I go to sleep past, say, seven.

Well, it appears that that day has come.

It’s not that I’m not grateful. Trust me, I’m grateful. It’s just that sleeping past seven means that the kids — Rowan in particular — are staying up later and later. It’s not unusual for me to be asleep before my eight-year-old these days. We’re trying, but he’s simply not tired, or so he says. Instead of going to sleep, he lies in bed, reading and listening to music on the clock radio we recently installed in his room. Yes, we’ve programmed it to turn off after a set amount of time, but the kid simply reprograms it, broadening his knowledge of Top 40 hits while remaining, maddeningly, awake. The upside is that he’s now starting to talk to me about current events. “Mom,” he’ll say to me over (a late) breakfast, “did you know that Lady Gaga has a new song? Ke$ha, too. And the Blue Jays lost to the New York Yankees.”

So, we’re trying to spend this week getting bedtime down from 11 p.m. to something slightly more reasonable. I don’t want to pull the plug on the radio just yet — it’s adorable how much he loves it — but we’re going to have to set some firmer limits on its use. I’m hoping that they’ll settle into school and the days will get shorter and they’ll adjust to the rhythms of the fall and the winter as readily as they did to those of summer.

In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy the sounds of the kids playing in the backyard in twilight, and putting in earplugs to muffle the strains of Ke$ha emanating from my kid’s room at 10:45 p.m.