Another instalment from my third week of lists, a clinging-to-the-trees, back-to-school-special, dreading-impending-winter edition all about school, kids, and being an involved dad: because there are these things — simple, routine, and important things — that awesome dads do when their kids go (back) to school each year…
Me? With my only daughter a few meagre weeks into kindergarten, I’m just learning and I’m certain that this list is but the tiniest tip of a very large metaphorical parenting iceberg. But this is what I know so far: pay attention, get involved, and step-up… and try a few of these ideas for a start.
6 Back to School Chores For Awesome Autumn Dads
…stop them from turning into social pariahs of the always-fashionably-late kind…
[ 1 ] Start a Family Calendar
So, you want to do your kids a real big favour? You do? Then how about teaching them one big skill that will make everyone’s lives easier, assist them in holding a job later in life, and stop them from turning into social pariahs of the always-fashionably-late or double-booked kind: how about keeping a family calendar. And not only keep one, keep one up-to-date and show them how responsible people — awesome dads, included — pay attention to appointments, committments, schedules, and routines. Whether like us you are in your first year of school, or you are well into that process and appoaching your last, life here in the twenty-first century, like it or not, is all about time, dates, and the allocation of the same — and your kids will pick up those skills, lessons and habits from you. Plus, you’ll be all-that-much closer to being an awesome dad, what with knowing every detail of your kid’s days.
[ 2 ] Start Learning Names
For the first four or five years of a kid’s life we as parents find ourselves at the unalterable core of that life. Dads and moms are central to a child’s existence. And then a funny things happens: kids go off to school and start to build this whole other social circle of friends and teachers and random people of influence on their lives. You as parents remain pretty central, but it quickly becomes obvious that your kid’s social life is becoming a Venn-like diagram of two quickly diverging circles: theirs versus yours where the overlap is a shrinking percentage of the whole labelled “people we all know.” You have a choice here: you can become a helicopter-parent and impose yourself on that social circle in an attempt to wrest control of the situation… or you can accept that your kid has their own independent life and will spend the rest of it diverging from yours (and that’s a good thing.) Either way: understand this life, and at the very least learn the names of as many of those unfamiliar kids, teachers and other folks as you possibly can.
Those days of curling up in front of the television for a couple hours when you get home after work each evening are officially over, Mr. Awesome Dad. Sorry. That’s right. It’s time to get serious about homework… and more serious than you ever got twenty years ago when you were still in school. Sloppy parenting may have been just fine when all you were worried about was paying lip-service to the child-safety industry with your shoddy installation of plastic gates and when you put those latches in your cupboards that only caught correctly half the time anyways. Education and putting your foot down on getting the homework done is where those five years of playing dad in the pre-season go full on into the regular season, you really turn into your father, and your coaching skills need to fire into high gear: hey, I suck at sports metaphors so give me a break here. You’ll never be directly responsible for what your kid accomplishes in life, but how you play from here on out — how much you ride them to get their “homework finished before you watch another episode of Spongebob” — will directly correlate to how your parenting skills will be judged, blamed, thanked, or otherwise go underappreciated for thrity years prior to that honourable mention in some post-doctorate graduation speech. It’s what you do.
[ 4 ] Get Serious About Playtime
On the flip side of the homework question, when you kid doesn’t have their nose burried in a book or their fingers poised at the keyboard (computer or musical) they might just have some free time: learn to get serious about cherishing those few scattered moments. They don’t last.
You just knew it was going to happen. One day your daughter comes home with a big manila envelope with a letter inside instructing you of your obligation to become a traveling salesman on behalf of the school’s razor-thin budget, the dance studio’s group vacation fund, or the scout group’s camping gas money shortfall. A few days later you find yourself and your free time suddenly allocated to selling chocolate-covered almonds, coupon books, or microwave popcorn. It is inevitable. You will not avoid it (save by buying every single fundraising product with your own money and giving up on real groceries for the next twelve years.) So, what are you going to do? Are you going to warn your office co-workers that the days you begging for money are close at hand? Are you going to be person who pimps cookies on Facebook? Are you going to hit up social and family gatherings with your hand out for the next decade? Or, are you going to going to use your blog to guilt readers into supporting your child’s extra-curricular activities… hint, hint. Chances are yes, yes, yes, and definitely yes: so start thinking of your game-plan now, because unlike the last surprise you had with your kid, you’re not getting nine months of warning this time.
It takes time, effort, and some sacrifice: but it\’s what an awesome dad would do.
[ 6 ] Plan to Volunteer at School
Look into it: all the planning, the work, the play, the fund raising and careful adapting to new and changing social circles… what does it all mean if you go your separate ways each morning, converge each evening, and never cross paths otherwise? Some schools welcome parent volunteers in the classroom, some look for guest speakers, some need board members, some just want extra hands during recess. Look into it. It takes time, effort, and some sacrifice: but it’s what an awesome dad would do. Would you?
The author is looking down a the road of a long journey knowing full well that more than a decade of public school awaits his completely inexperienced fatherly oversight. Any advice is welcomed…