New School Year, New Lessons Learned

As the beginning of a new school year races closer, we are yet again facing the same dilemma we find year after year: Spider Man or Cars folders?

The end of summer is an exciting time for both children and parents. Kids are enjoying the last of their free time, stretching out daily by the pool or playing in the park until night fall. Parents are finishing the budget, setting up doctor appointments and stocking up on lunch bags and poster board.

It’s times like these that the weight of a deployed military member sits heavy on the shoulders of those left to keep the pieces together. One parent scheduling parties and appointments, driving to the mall for new clothes, organizing school supplies, registering for school, planning meals, budgeting the checkbook, etc. It can be overwhelming to say the least.

In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new school year, it is important to take time out for family. If possible, schedule a Skype chat session with your deployed loved one to let him or her get a chance to join in on the excitement. Have your children write letters to their mother, father or sibling serving overseas that capture the joy, questions, fears or goals about the upcoming year. Make this family time a priority in your school planning. It will help ease the stress and relieve some of the “single parent” pressures.

Take time out for yourself, as well. Especially as the school year progresses, you will be faced with multiple frustrations, aggravations and stresses that come with the territory and it is imperative you are braced to deal with them. Have your service member talk with your children about being good students, finishing homework on time, going to bed early and simply listening to you with the least amount of struggle. These small pieces of advice will sink in more effectively coming from the deployed family member.

Above all, remember your support systems: your friends, your family, your military spouse support group. All of these will serve as crutches in times of distress and will help you get through the school year with as much ease as possible.

So, when the smallest decisions seem to be the toughest (i.e. which superhero folders to purchase), remember that you’re not alone.

Do you have questions or suggestions for single parent families as they prepare for the upcoming school year? Please send them to [email protected].