Ahh, the bugle cry of back to school. Does joy at the sound of the school bell make you feel like a mean mom? That alone should not do it. But that, along with a plan based on the three R’s to take charge for a smooth transition, should. It takes a mean mom to get everyone back in the structured mode of the new school schedule.
Remember the three R’s of being a student? Well, now that you’re a mom of students, you have a whole new set of three R’s to live by: Reality, responsibility, and routine.
We all know that our reality is totally different from our kids’ realities. So here lies the first challenge. Mean Mom’s Club: The Mean Mom’s Rule Book includes the rule "There’s a difference between need and want…and I’ll tell you which it is." This rule is critical in following the first of the Three R’s. When your son says he needs that T-shirt that hangs down to his knees and has the manufacturer’s logo splashed across the front, all for a measly $45, somebody has to bring this dude back to reality -- Mean Mom reality! His reality is, of course, that of strutting down the hall looking cool. Your reality is that you have $150 for his total back-to-school wardrobe including shoes, socks, and underwear. The T-shirt is not happening.
My 11-year-old son once stood in the store aisle in tears because I refused to buy that T-shirt. I told him to let me know when he was finished so we could get on with our errands. He lived without the cool T-shirt and was not ostracized by his friends, much to his dismay. If we all refused to buy into this nonsense, the kids would be dressed in basic, inexpensive clothes and the competition would go away. We’re in charge, mean moms!
As a mom, it is your primary goal to teach your kids to become responsible so that when they grow up they can take care of themselves and will move out. A good mean mom does not have 22-year-old children living at home. By that age they are adults on their own and that bedroom is your party or yoga room! Back to school is a perfect time to work on responsibility skills. The rule "ou’ll always be my baby…no matter how old you are" will help to set up a realistic plan for responsible behavior at different ages. Kids progress through specific developmental stages, each with its own milestones regarding how they think, how they see the world, and what they can manage.
The responsibility R must be done with both developmental stages and your family's values in mind. What rules are important in your house? Do beds need to be made in the morning? Do kids need to get themselves up and fed on their own? They might be able to do some or all of this depending on their development.