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East County Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 5 months ago

Back at the Ranch: Back-to-School Blues

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Being back in school doesn’t have to be a drag. Ranch Mom offers some insight into how to make it a rather painless season for all — despite the continued ovenlike temperatures.
by: Jess McIntyre Contributor
Jess McIntyre. Greenbrook resident and working mom to sons Gavin, 5, and Jackson, 4

I think it is universally accepted that 93% of the tiny human population vehemently dislike the phrase “back to school.” The other 7% also dislike the phrase; they just weren’t listening and thought you said “back to the pool.”

And honestly, most parents have a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, it means structure, consistent scheduling and wide-swept relief that you’re off the hook for 88 snacks before noon. But on the other, you now have to embrace daily rage as you repeatedly remind the humans that you are going to be late if they don’t get their shoes on NOW.

But back to school in Florida is different than most other places in the continental U.S. It’s a confusing concept in the Sunshine State. Other states launch a new school year while ushering in the first signs and sounds of a new and cooler season. Not us! Florida remains in a full-blown state of hell on Earth.

When everyone else is happily shopping for back-to-school jeans and sweaters, we are over here digging around the seasonal displays at The Children’s Place and trying to figure out if it is acceptable to throw in the towel and just send our kids to school in swim trunks. (See what I did there?)

All daily struggles aside, let’s chat about what can be done to embrace the never-ending summer weather while incentivizing and motivating our minion armies to want to go back to school. And moreover, tactics to keep them going back.

New you! A fresh start for a new year means a new look. Encourage the kids to pick out a new outfit or two. Something that helps them feel ready to take on the new year. For the teens, shop local, and head to Malibu Fox Boutique or Wish on Main. Unlike big-box stores, these Florida-based boutiques won’t be stocking their shelves with turtlenecks in August, so your selections will be endless.

Uniforms required? No problem! Let them pick their pencils, pens and notebooks. Crowder’s (attached to Ace Hardware in Lakewood Ranch) has an impressive selection of trendy office supplies that are sure to impress your fashion-forward humans.

School supplies ordered ahead of time? Send them skipping down the aisles of the newly redesigned Target on University, and let them choose this year’s backpack. Then take it to Running With Scissors for personalized monogramming.

Material coercion aside, there are also plenty of options from the perspective of the family unit. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that back-to-school time leads to less downtime and less guaranteed time together. So be intentional: Embrace the heat in September, and tie it all together.

Take the family out for ice cream for a successful first month in the new school year. Both in Lakewood Ranch, try Big Olaf if you’re looking traditional ice cream parlor fare, or head to D’Lites Shoppe for ice cream varieties guaranteed to satisfy even your gluten-free, peanut-free, dairy-free family members.

If you aren’t into sweet treats, how about a sunset beach trip to wrap-up the quarter? As Floridians, we might lament the lack of boots weather, but we are lucky to have the beach at our fingertips and temperatures to warrant swimming almost year-round. And if you’re a super active family, take a literal hike over in Rye Preserve to explore nature, play on the playground or (if you REALLY like the outdoors) camp.

With that, I send you off. May the school odds be ever in your favor!

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