Three more weeks. That’s how long I have until my kids go back to school. Three more weeks until I can burn their soggy water shoes, toss the sunscreen and shove the beach towels into the back of my linen closet for another year. On the other hand, I only have three more weeks to sign them up for fall activities, set up my third-grader’s brand-new lofted bed (and desk!) and go bankrupt on school supplies at Target.

Yes, this time of year is a mixture of anticipation and dread. I asked parents of school-aged kids to weigh in with their excitement and loathing, and they replied in droves. Here’s what they said.

On the plus side…

“We live in Somerville, which is a very diverse community, but summer tends to divide kids up by background. One child goes to robotics camp, another does sports and another goes to visit family in another country. My favorite day of the year is the first day of school. Kids from every background reunite on the schoolyard. Many different languages spoken mix with the sounds of kids playing. In what feels like a time of increasingly deep divisions, school is a place where we all, regardless of background, entrust our kids’ care. It’s an amazing place where we get to form strong bonds with people from all walks of life.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing the other parents at drop-off and pick-up everyday! I had no idea how much I would miss that, as this was our first year of school.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing how much my kids love school again this year, because I’m sure that will change when they’re teenagers.”

“I’m looking forward to the return of a simplified daily structure!”

“My older son is starting seventh grade and my younger son is starting kindergarten. I’m looking forward to their excitement as they share all the new things they’ll learn and discover, and for my little guy, I can’t wait for him to make some new friends and finally feel like a big kid after three years in preschool.”

“I’m looking forward to free time for me and less sibling bickering!”

“I’m looking forward to seeing mom friends at drop-off and pick-up.”
—Rachel Leah

“A new lunch box. I celebrate tossing those year-old petri dishes!”

“I’m looking forward to a consistent routine and school lunches after figuring out five different camps and having to pack a lunch for all of them.”

“We are all so very excited about being able to walk to school again after a summer of having to drive all over the city for various camps. I can’t actually think of anything I’m dreading. I’m so excited!”

“I finally have two kids at the same school for the first time in eight years—one drop-off/pick-up after four years of special ops-level coordination with two kids across multiple sites and two households. I feel like a new woman.”

“My kids are looking forward to seeing their friends every day and using all the school supplies I’ve locked away!”

“Not paying for all-day day care. A single point of pick-up for both children.”

“We homeschool. We can’t wait to have museums and galleries to ourselves again.”

“I’m looking forward to less fighting and more structure.”

“I’m looking forward to not having to carefully cross-check three calendars just to answer, ‘Are you available for a 4 p.m. meeting?'”

“Early bedtimes, three meals a day versus 30 snacks and a solid routine. We all need it!”

“Routine and knowing what day of the week it is.”

But it’s not all sharpened pencils and that new-eraser smell…

“I’m not looking forward to figuring out the logistics of school pick-up that’s in the middle of her little sister’s nap!”

“Drop-off and pick-up with a baby in tow.”

I don’t look forward to putting my son on a bus that arrives/departs sometime between 6:55-7:15. It is early, but better than Somerville bridge detour traffic!”

“My oldest is starting kindergarten, and I’m looking forward to her first step into school, but I am dreading the vast increase in hours she’ll have compared with her preschool.”

“I’m dreading the chaos of the mornings and the sound of a 5 a.m. alarm.”

“I really don’t like the early mornings. I hear I’ll get to sleep again when she goes to college.”

“I’m not looking forward to homework, last-minute project requests, remembering to check backpacks, the loss of the magic of summer and the end of long evenings outside playing hide-and-seek with the neighbor kids.”

“I’m semi-dreading the transition period of two weeks of sheer exhaustion adjusting to the school-year schedule, but at least I know to expect it!”

“For my seventh-grade girl, I’m looking forward to her feeling like she’s not a newbie in middle school anyone, but worried about the increasingly challenging world of ‘girl stuff’ ahead this year.”

“With identical twins starting kindergarten, I’m dreading the food allergy hustle that comes with public schools that are not nut-free. I’m looking forward to them being in their own classes for the first time and hopefully growing as individuals, but dreading the fear of them struggling to make friends.”

“I am not looking forward to the changes this year—both of my kids will be in college.”

“School starting coincides with me returning to work after my third maternity leave. It means dropping my daughter off before school, where all they do is color, an hour before school starts. I’m feeling so guilty about it and dreading it. I’m wishing I had a flexible work schedule.”

“I’m dreading the daily anxiety the kids have about homework.”

“I’m dreading my daughter’s anxiety about one specific teacher despite loving everyone else at her school.”

“We are all dreading the shuffle of rushing from work to one school to the other school to activities for one kid to activities for the other kid, with a quick dinner shoved in there somehow and hope-hope-hope there’s no homework in first grade because we really want time for bedtime stories. We’re also all dreading coming home to darkness, but at least we have a couple months on that one.”

“I dread narrowing down our schedule for the fall and determining whether we have the right balance of things to do with down time at home.”

“Wait, school is starting again?”