The idea of packing lunch for the first day of school is enough to make even the strongest parent weak at the knees. As we prepare to send our children back to school, we have two clear choices: fall into a puddle of our own tears or look for the silver lining. We’re choosing the latter. Read on for 10 reasons not to lose it on the first day.

photo: Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr 

1. Because they are about to do great things. Their future is bright. Every new school year offers infinite possibilities and opportunities to foster your child’s development. Think of the year to come and everything they’ll do for the first time. Performing in their first school play, entering their first science fair or maybe even riding their bike to school for the first time.

2. Routine, routine, routine! Kids love routine, and getting them back to their old routine (and yours) is something that helps the whole family thrive. No more sleeping in for them, and you can head to the office in peace, knowing that you no longer have to strategically plan out weeks of activities, play dates and camps to keep them occupied. 

photo: Leonardo Augusto Matsuda via Flickr 

3. Letting them go makes them stronger. According to Child Development & Behavior Specialist, Betsy Brown Braun, “The surest way to make life harder on your kids is by making it too easy for them.” Our impulse is to sometimes keep our kids close, coddle them and fix what might be wrong.  But school is where they learn true independence, which lays the foundation for making good decisions in life.

4. You’re doing it right, even though it hurts a little. Think about it this way; if your kid is entering Kindergarten, you’ve done an amazing job so far. You’ve managed to keep a human being alive long enough to see him start his education. For that, you should be gleaming with pride and excited to see your child continue to flourish, even if it stings a little.

photo: Brittany Randolph via Flickr 

5. They’ll be trading screen time for green time. Hot summer days take a toll on little ones. Instead of plopping down with their devices in an air-conditioned living room, your kids now have a chance to unplug at recess and enjoy their friends and the fresh autumn air.

6. Two plus two equals … five?! Sure you traveled, explored new places and slayed your #familygoals, but while you were off making memories to last a lifetime, your kids might have experienced what researchers refer to as Summer Learning Loss.  So the sooner they get back to school, the sooner they will catch up and excel.

photo: Audio Luci Store via Flickr 

7. They’ll remember their manners. Let’s face it—kids save their worst meltdowns and tantrums for their parents. School keeps them in check and somehow (through some mystical power) gets them to mind their manners. We’ll gladly take more of their good behavior, please and thank you.

8. You’ll be able to get your house in order. Did your grade schoolers get hopped up on juice boxes and trash the place like it was Mardi Gras?  Now’s the time to pick up all the beads, assess the damage and call in the contractor for repairs. There’s no better time than the present: do it now and you won’t have to worry about having the house ready for that Thanksgiving dinner you promised to host this year.

photo: Dustin Blakey via Flickr 

9. No more negotiating with pint-sized terrorists. On the first night back to school you can confidently say: Bedtime is 8 p.m. and that’s final! And your kids can no longer use “but it’s summer” as a negotiating tactic.

10. You’ll be able to turn in your referee whistle. Spent the better part of summer playing referee? A healthy dose of sibling rivalry is expected but constantly settling disputes between your kids is a no-win situation. School gives your kids a chance to experience a near daily dose of adversity while exploring conflict resolution among their peers.  With enough practice, they’ll eventually develop the skills necessary to problem solve on their own and finally get along with their archenemy (read: sibling) back at home.

— Janelle Connor

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Feature photo: Charlene Webster/Cavalier 92 via Flickr