(This post originally ran on Huffington Post Parents)
The days of bottles, potty training, snotty noses and sippy cups are far behind me. I now have two kids in elementary school and, like so many parents of similar-aged kids, find myself pondering about how much my life has altered as I cruise around the grocery store at 9 p.m. on a Saturday evening. One on the one hand, my kids are more independent: they can read, they can write, they can tie their shoelaces (well, almost) and I’ve even been paying them to sort, fold and put away their laundry! But on the other hand, the sheer volume of school/PTO requests, homework and social activities threaten to overwhelm and quite frankly, erode any chance of quality me-time (other than grocery shopping late at night). Does any of this sound familiar?
Here are many ways to know when you, too, are the parent of elementary school kids:
- You find out about a school project/permission slip/photo day at 8 a.m. the day they are due.
- Play dates and parties are drop off… and you are thrilled.
- You proudly wear rainbow loom bracelets (while muttering under your breath about the chaos of rubber bands littering your house).
- Math homework makes you quake with fear.
- You manage to squeeze your lower half into those tiny seats during parent-teacher conferences.
- The days of the week take on new meaning: Monday is “you have PE, don’t forget your sneakers day!”, Thursday is “return library book day”, Friday is “pizza day!”
- You are scared to put your hand inside their backpacks.
- Your second job is peddling wrapping paper, raffle tickets and other fundraisers (and your friends and family deftly avoid you).
- Ninety percent of the morning mayhem in your house is created in the last 10 minutes before school drop off.
- Your iPad/laptop is no longer your own.
- You have to explain why Miley Cyrus is really not that cool.
- You are adept at stealthily throwing away the latest ‘art project’ in the trash can outside, making sure to hide it underneath other stuff.
- You find yourself singing along to Kidz Bop (even when there are no kids around…).
- Gloves and hats and socks get lost with uncanny frequency.
- Your toddler knows to yell “BUS” as it approaches the end of your driveway.
- Your weekends are a complex logistical challenge — full of parties, play dates, sports and errands.
- You are not beneath drying papier maché volcanoes in the microwave.
- You know that the day when you’ll have to explain the birds and the bees is inching closer and it terrifies you.