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.


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17 replies
  1. jill britz
    jill britz says:

    Exactly this!! My FOMO buttons are hitting on overdrive as the whole neighborhood (except us) preps to go back to school.

    We’ve even crafted “back-to-school” rituals so the kids don’t feel left out, which really means so I don’t feel like I’m making them miss out by homeschooling them.


    D.a.m.n. cultural peer pressure.
    Turns out I’ve got plenty of Jr. High residual issues.

    At least my kids can miss out on those. . . .

  2. redrock
    redrock says:

    “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 back to school craze is only because it was discovered by the sales people – it is an artificially created supersale. There is no need to by all the winter clothes in the week school starts . It is much less pronounced in a lot of other countries and more confined to supplies for school like binders and paperclips.

  3. Barchbo
    Barchbo says:

    Since I started teaching almost 20 years ago, I’ve told anyone who will listen (and lots that don’t) that our society has given itself over as hostage to the agrarian calendar of the 19th century. It slays me!

    But without fall, how will we have high school football? (I’m in Texas.)

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        There’s so much money in it that I think it will be a staple of the culture until it loses it’s luster.
        Even if there’s no money in high school football the way there is in professional football, the trickle down effect is pretty powerful!

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Why not have the local parks and rec district organize high school football? They seem to do a great job with pee wee and jr. football here in CA.

      • Hannah
        Hannah says:

        It seems like a lot of sports are headed that way although all the tradition associated with high school football makes me think that it will be the laggard of the bunch.

        AAU has pretty much taken over as hosting the most prestigious competitions in several team sports, and of course USTA owns the Tennis Circuit rather than high schools.

        When club teams overtake high school teams as the most prestigious amateur teams for kids, then other organizations seem to create new feeder systems.


  4. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I love the Fall. No crowds at our favorite places for the next few months. Football season. I like back to school sales because I can get my favorite brand of pencils for a tenth of the price and notebooks for like ten cents, and index cards for a quarter… I don’t even have a reason for buying index cards, but I have them anyway.

    The street we live on is the street that everyone takes to drop off and pick up their kids from school, so I can’t even get out of my driveway until public kids are in school. But I don’t mind because we get to go do all the fun stuff and really take our time enjoying what we are experiencing, whatever that is.

    Enjoy your Fall everyone!

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      So like….I don’t want to be selfish…but quit trying to ruin all the awesome stuff about back to school for homeschoolers! haha ;)

      I seriously feel like if homeschooling becomes much more mainstream (done right of course) the education crisis will be solved but also…..all the great places will be crowded!

      STOP IT!

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        :) If more people start homeschooling maybe there will be even more places to go, not just the standard fair! Maybe they will have longer hours, who knows. I’m not seeing a mad rush to homeschool in my neck of the woods, although there are LOTS of us here already. There is always some field trip going on.

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          you’re right!

          I work in an office with typical office hours. It drives me MAD that there are SO MANY businesses that hold office hours.

          Oh you want to get a hair cut? sorry we close at 5.

          Oh you want to pay a bill but have questions about it and want to deal in person rather than with a dweeb on the phone? sorry we close at 5?

          in whose head is this okay?
          who says “I am going to open a business front but only operate during times when stay at home parents will be able to come by. And I am going to make it impossible for those who work regular hours.”

          • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
            YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

            I think millennials could be the ones to change this. You are right though! Office hours are stuck in the 1950’s time where housewives could take care of all this stuff between those hours. While we’re on it, your gen needs to stop this daylight savings crap! It’s messes people up.

  5. Erin
    Erin says:

    When we started eating food from our local farm CSA, it completely changed the way I thought about the seasons. Since I live in the PNW, many of our farm CSAs and farmer’s markets actually run year round. After 5 years of supporting our local farm, we are now moving more towards gardening, and each step we take in this “real food” movement, the more down-to-earth each season feels and the more rooted my calendar becomes.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      I went to a CSA booth farmers market this morning.

      $3 for 3 carrots?
      $20 lb rib eye?
      $2 green onions?

      Is this normal? I found it incredibly expensive.

      • Linda
        Linda says:

        Yes it’s normal. It’s real food grown with real compost and it’s not full of chemicals.

        But the pricing does lead one to consider serious gardening. Once I was paying for organic local food for 4 for a couple years I started gardening in a serious way. Next year I will start preserving food in a serious way to bring the savings year round. And I am fortunate to live in a place where some produce can be grown almost year round.

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