If you have a decent sized blog you get tons of pitches from public relations people. And somewhere in the PR rule book it says that you do better with pitches that are tied to current events.
And as we all know, thanks to the industrial revolution, fall is no longer a time for harvest: back to school is the event of fall!
The pitches are amazing. Like, a vitamin company telling me how to keep my kid from getting sick in school. A thermos company telling me how to make sure my kids don’t trade their lunches. The fall pitches portray school like a minefield that can be solved only by buying things.
Or the pitches appeal straight to the school supplies list. Like, buy special crayons instead of Crayolas while you are buying school supplies. (Frankly, this pitch seems like the most hopeless. The only thing that makes parents able to shell out the hundreds of dollars in school supplies LH is that they feel nostalgic for their own school supply shopping.)
The best advice for back to school comes from the Onion in the article Back-to-School Preparation Tips for Parents.
When I had my kids in school I felt a constant tug between me and the school calendar. I wanted my kids to identify fall with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. But back to school overshadowed that by a landslide.
Now that we are not in school I am acutely aware of how much of our society revolves around the school calendar. It’s not just PR firms. It’s everywhere.
Museums, bowling alleys, and zip lines, all that sort of stuff is there for the taking during the school year. But don’t go during school vacations. Too crowded. We get so used to having venues to ourselves that we even go bowling during the school day. I imagine this is what it’s like when Brad and Angelina close down a bowling alley so their kids can play in peace.
But the workplace is also structured around the school calendar. I used to make a living as a public speaker. Warning: do not ever do this. I made $15K a speech and it still wasn’t worth it to be traveling all the time. Well, actually, it wasn’t all the time. All conferences are crammed into the spring and the fall, because people can only attend conferences when their kids are in school.
The most expensive times to travel are when kids are out of school. And tech support teams work overtime during winter break because parents purchase most of their electronics equipment for either the beginning of first semester or the beginning of second semester.
My favorite garden center closes early once school starts. And my favorite dance class when I lived in NYC was cancelled in the summer to make room for all the kids.
When I think about how difficult it is to start homeschooling, I think the biggest barrier is that the world is widely arranged for something else. We all want to feel like we make safe, secure choices with our children. Parents are not in the business of taking huge risks with their kids. So it feels scary to be out of sync with everyone else’s calendar.