Back to School and the Last First Day

80 First Days of schools for 5 children. That’s a lot. This Tuesday will be my last. My baby is grown. There will be no fancy signs. No celebration. I’ll get up early and make him breakfast – which he probably won’t eat. We’ll take a quick, (forced) photo as he gets into his car at 6:15 AM. Then I’ll get ready for work. And it’s over. That’s 25 years of Back to School – over. Just like that.IMG_6551.jpg

Don’t even blink, young mommas. It goes by fast. You don’t think it will but it does. Just like I was told it would – back when I thought I knew better.

There were tears last week when I watched from afar at my baby’s senior photo shoot. Not really tears of sadness, but tears of pride. It’s been so many years of hard, hard work.  Every hour spent on science projects and car pools. Every penny spent on field trips and school supplies and athletic fees and parking passes and just everything. Every, single worried late night.  Worth. It.IMG_0053

I’ve loved every choir concert, every theater production, every soccer game, every swim meet, every ski meet.   The product, so far, has been 4 high school graduates, 3 college graduates, 1 masters degree, and 1 MD.   We have a radiation oncology resident, a civil engineer, a navy flight officer in training, a lawyer to be and the sky is still the limit for that baby of the family.

As one era is coming to an end, another is beginning.  We’re not going back to school yet, with the littles, but it’s coming.  And it’ll come fast.IMG_9949

I’m not sure how involved I’ll be in my little’s Back to School experience. Grandparents seem to be much more involved in this process now than ever. I’d like to be there for every First Day. If I can peak from a distance, I will. I’m sure I’ll feel the same pride, and try to hold back the same tears. Or maybe I’ll need to accept that I’ve had my First Days and I’ll wait to hear about their First Days by photo or text message.   Time will tell.

I asked Go Grandmas what they were doing with or for their grandchildren for Back to School. Here’s what they had to say:

Mindy,  CO: I take them shopping for a back to school outfit.”

Andrea, MN: I let my grandchildren choose two outfits each, shoes, and a backpack.  It’s not stressful to me and it takes some pressure off my son and daughter-in-law.  I always appreciated it when my mother-in-law sent money for back to school clothes for my kids.  This time of year can be stressful for parents and finances can be tight

I remember my in-laws buying new shoes for my boys when they went back to school . That was a huge help – not just the shoes but the fact that they physically TOOK them and did it for me.

Anonymous:  Nothing!  Maybe I’ll do something next year but this year we have too many other issues to deal with.

Truth! Sometimes life just gets in the way of being a grandma and there’s not anything we can do about it.

Here’s a fun list I found of ways to be involved in Back to School with the littles:

School supply shopping

Working parents often find it difficult to find time to take their kids shopping for school supplies. Not only will taking your grandkids to buy everything on their school supply list make their parents’ lives easier, but it’s a fun outing for you to share with your grandkids. Spend some time after you get home from the store helping them organize everything so that it’s ready to go for the first day.

Walk the route

When kids are old enough to start taking the bus to school by themselves for the first time, it can be intimidating! Help your grandchild overcome first day jitters by walking the route to the school bus with them a couple of times before the first day. You could even drive to the school and walk the route they will take throughout the day, from bus to locker to classrooms and lunch and back again. Familiarity will give your grandkids confidence on the big day.

Get a copy of the academic calendar

To stay involved throughout the school year, get a copy of your grandkids’ yearly events and academic calendar. Mark all important events like recitals, conferences, and “no school” days on your personal calendar so you can be sure to avoid scheduling a conflict. Don’t forget to mark Grandparents’ Day!

Create a reference of school info

If you’re going to be helping out with school logistics throughout the year, such as carpooling or after school babysitting, it’s a good idea to make sure you have all the relevant info in one easily accessible place. We recommend making a cheat sheet of all important school information.

This includes:

  • Teachers names
  • School day start and end time
  • Bus number and driver’s name
  • Bus pick-up time
  • Locker combo
  • Lunch time
  • Days of special subjects (P.E., art, music)
  • Field trips

Even if you won’t be helping with driving, it’s good to know what your grandkids’ daily schedules will be.


Another way to stay involved with your grandchildren’s school lives is to volunteer in their classroom or around the school. Sign up for the volunteer roster at the start of the year to get your name on the list for openings. There are many different tasks that schools rely on for volunteers throughout the year, such as classroom aids, media center support, field trip chaperone, lunchroom supervision, and PTA. Don’t forget to remind your grandchild when you’ll be volunteering so that they know to keep an eye out for you!

Whether you’re watching from afar or you’re there on the doorstep, grandmas love to be involved. Back to School will always be one of my favorite memories. It meant starting fresh. It meant freedom. It meant pride. I hope to experience that again. Someday. Through someone else’s eyes.  Please invite me because I’ll be there. I’ll just watch. I’ll be quiet and silently cry my pride tears.IMG_0110

1 thought on “Back to School and the Last First Day”

  1. You are correct. The years flash by and the kids are gone, out the door. But when they are still home, we can never imagine that they will one day be gone. I miss them every day, although it’s been five-plus years now since the youngest graduated. He lives in Boston now, way too distant from Minnesota.

    You’ve done well to raise kids with such outstanding careers. And now you move on to the next stage, focusing on the littles.


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