Summertime and the livin’ ain’t easy. Not if you’ve been trying to juggle swimming and sleepovers, play dates and parties. Let’s face it: being a parent isn’t easy, whether it’s summertime or not. Adding to this is the fact that September is creeping up on us, folks, and guess what: that means it’s “Back to School” time.
Now, while the end of the hot weather may bring on conflicting feelings – relief that the kiddies will at least be occupied during the weekdays to some degree – there is the accompanying stress felt by some of us that we now need to stop “playing it by ear” (our summer credo) and get back to structure and schedules. Gulp.
Not wanting to wait until the last second before the first school bell of the season chimes, I’ve put together the following Back to School survival tips to help parents get through this crazy time relatively unscathed.
Image courtesy of www.rachelray.com
Top 10 Back To School Survival Tips
1) Pack and Play - Get all of the kids’ various gym bags, book bags and knapsacks ready the night before. Have them loaded with everything they need, from pencils to snacks to changes of clothes and more. Do not leave this until the morning of the first day of school. Trust me on this.
2) Know Thy Enemy – Okay, perhaps not an enemy but the school itself can be daunting if you don’t know the lay of the land. Whether you’re taking little Johnny to Kindergarten for the first time, or you’re back for the fourth year in a row, find out in advance where you’re child’s class or classes are, who the teachers are, where the entrances and offices are, etc. It will save you that valuable time on those days where there are but minutes to spare before the bell rings.
3) Do Not “Shop ‘Til You Drop” – The marketers would have you believe that you absolutely have to purchase your child’s full wardrobe just before the Labor Day weekend. This is in fact not the truth at all. It actually makes sense to take a more measured response to purchasing, given the various factors that need to be considered when buying kids’ clothing. Not only the weather, which is the obvious one, but the rate of growth of your kids as well. And let’s not mention what the latest style dictates, Mom and Dad. What your daughter may want, based on the current style in September could be very different from what she desires a few months later in January – when she has decided that she no longer likes what you purchased for her, and you’ve already thrown out the bill. Buy a few items for the first week back and shop as you go throughout the months ahead. It will give your bank account a well-needed rest and your daughter the opportunity to change her mind
4) Bulk Up – Don’t laugh. Costco never looked so good. This is especially the case if you have a growing child or children who are perpetually hungry. Oh, and don’t forget the requisite supplies that will make your intrepid scholar feel that much more motivated. No, I am not contradicting myself, e.g. tip #3; in this instance I’m talking about stuff. Pens, paper, notepads, knapsacks. On the food front? Club Packs of granola bars, juice boxes, trail mix. All the stuff that kids go through fast and that you keep buying at the grocery store. Save yourself some time and some money. Buy in bulk and take some time off from doing a “big shop” for a few weeks.
5) Team Huddle – This is crucial to the first day – and each day for the rest of the school year – going smoothly. Have a meeting with you child/children and set out what your expectations are for them re: morning routines, time frames, chores, etc. Lay it all out on the table and make it clear. Discuss what needs to be discussed and air any grievances there and then. The point is to have the buy in and, by extension, the cooperation of your kids when the school year actually commences. Arguing about what time you need to get out the door is really not productive at 8:47 am on the first morning (and subsequent mornings) of school.
6) Color Coded – If you’re like me and many other moms out there, you are perpetually asking “what happened to the other sock?!” The washer or dryer seems to eat them, and this fact is usually found out when nerves are frayed and everyone is rushing to get ready for school. Do yourself a favor and buy socks in the same color. Stock up on six or seven pairs of one or two in the same color group for each child and breath a sigh of relief.
7) Ground Zero - Keep all the important things in one place. Knapsacks, keys, permission forms, notebooks – whether it’s by the front door or close by, everyone should know that when in doubt, to place the item(s) there. It will save a lot of stress and frustration in the morning when tempers are short and time is a-wasting.
8) What’s on the Agenda? Hopefully you, your partner and your kids. Get into the habit of scheduling activities and tracking them – whether it be on a huge communal calendar on the kitchen wall or fridge, or in your kids’ individual rooms. The key is that everyone is on the same page and knows who is doing what on any given day. Consult the calendar, have a plan of action about when activities need to be added and discussed, and stick to it. You, as the parent will be thankful for this tiny measure of control over your crazy life.
9) Routine Check-Up – Similar to tip #8, it’s key that you get the kids into a routine before they start back at school. The week before the fall bell rings, go through a “morning drill” of sorts with the family. Get the kids up the same time that they would when school will be starting, have breakfast, organize the kids stuff together, etc. The reason behind this is knowing what the actual time it is going to take to realistically get out the door. Not only will it teach your children the importance of planning in advance, but it will give you the peace of mind required, knowing that you’re one step ahead of the game.
10) Relax – Yes, it may seem easier said than done but really: at the end of the day, the world won’t end if someone wears mismatched socks or the same pair of jeans three days in a row. Give yourself a break. It’s hard enough being a parent as it is. Pat yourself on the back for getting the kids up, ready and out the door and if the cross the threshold of their school relatively happy, you’ve done your job well.
What are your best Back to School Survival Tips? Please share!