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Howell family keeps back-to-school traditions alive during COVID-19 pandemic

Shopping, photos, lunches and more

HOWELL, Mich. – For many families back to school time marks a milestone, and that means you may celebrate with special traditions, but in the middle of a pandemic, those traditions may look different this year.

The first day of school this year looked very different for the Weber family.

“The kids’ happiness was unbelievable,” said Lauren Weber. “You can see their little eyes crinkling up in the masks and they’re all wearing the masks and it’s just such a testament to how resilient kids can be.”

Mom made sure it was just as special as it has always been and kept the same traditions in place -- right down to taking those first day of school photos for the scrapbooks. She said she’s always believed in creating lasting memories for her three children.

She’s passionate about those traditions -- whether it’s filling their summer bucket lists, picking fruit at a local farm or celebrating back to school -- no matter what’s going on in the world around them.

“I just think traditions strengthen family bonds with siblings that brings the siblings closer together,” Weber said. “It definitely offers that security and comfort and that’s absolutely necessary anytime, but especially during a pandemic when the kids aren’t sure what’s coming next, and frankly, neither are we.”

Weber maintained the same traditions, but still had to change things up for the 2020-21 school year.

“Usually we’d go back to school shopping at several stores and we really just stuck to one store. I also did a lot of online shopping with my kids saying, ’Hey, let’s look at this, what do you think of this?’ That was a little bit different, sitting by each other and online shopping,” Weber said. “Usually we go to several stores, but that didn’t happen this year.

At the end of every summer, Weber takes her children on a special one-on-one date.

“So this year, obviously looked a little bit different. Usually we’re getting school supplies and school clothes and we did do a little bit of that, but for the most part, I just let them dictate the day -- they choose where we go to lunch, they choose what activity we do -- and there’s always ice cream involved,” Weber said.

She said it’s a chance for them to connect before the school year starts.

“It gave me the opportunity to really ask them, ’How are you feeling going into school? What are we going to face this year? What are you excited about?’” Weber said. “So, really having that time, one-on-one to ask those questions where their siblings aren’t around and bothering them.”

They always end the first week of school with a Friday night bonfire and pizza party.

“So that’s kind of our thing during the fall. It kind of fires us up for the fall season and ends up being a lot of fun for the kids too,” Weber said. “Honestly, parents, set the tone for the school year. Whatever you can do that’s going to satisfy your heart and your children’s heart is the best possible scenario.”

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