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By Jamie Ratner, CertifiKID Founder & CEO
Posted Aug 07, 2019
Posted Aug 07, 2019
Ugh! I hate to say it but there is nothing I dread more than back-to-school time. I loved it so much as a kid - school supply shopping, deciding on my outfit for the first day, and finding out what teachers I would be getting. As an adult, however, I find it to be challenging on so many levels- from the anxiety, the scheduling, expectations, financial costs and the unknown. Instead of dwelling too much on the issues here are some of my tips for making this year as stress-free as possible.
It is super important you get your calendar in order right from the get go. Make sure you know the exact time to get the kids to school and get picked up. I also suggest pulling out the full school year calendar NOW and putting in all the half days and days off so you aren't one of those flaky parents that forgets to pick your child up on a half-day (we have all been there!).
Let each kid start with ONE activity they would like to do after school. Read my lips ONE. These activities can drive you mad in terms of scheduling and they can add up financially if you sign up for too many. If you have multiple children make sure you can handle transportation without carpool. Carpools are awesome but I always try to set a schedule that can be done without it to stay on the safe side.
You can decide if there is time for more activities once you start the school year. I personally find it more manageable to start with one. It’s also important to give the kids time to have playdates and relax.
This sounds nuts but, sometimes I set my clocks 10 minutes fast to buy some time as we are getting into the routine. I never want to miss the bus!
Keeping the House in Order
Right from the get-go you need a system in place for all the notes that will be coming home in the backpack. Decide where you will keep them. Also, decide now what you want to do with all the artwork and papers they bring home. We seem to collect them but do we really need to keep it all? It just piles up. Perhaps, decide this year you will just keep the favorite memory stuff and get a folder to keep the rest for the year. You can also consider taking pictures or scanning in items before throwing them out.
I am not sure why but I really dislike the lunch part of school. If your kids are going to want you to pack their lunches you need to come up with a solid plan for what that will include. Sit down with your kids and make a list of what they will eat. That way you can go to a big box store and stock up on the items needed to help the new school year chaos.
Also, in my opinion, lunch does not need to be what we grew up with...a sandwich, 2 sides, and a drink. It is OK to go outside the box (no pun intended). For example, I have a friend who sends her kids with a thermos of cereal for lunch and they buy milk. I also have a friend who makes an extra dinner every single night and that becomes their kid’s lunch the next day. Keep in mind, the storage components you’ll need so the food stays good until lunch. My daughter gets so upset with me when I send something that ends up leaking all over her bag. Whoops!
There are so many things to buy and commit to these first weeks. You really do not need it all. I know the school list is long! Your child does not need a new backpack every year. Growing up I think I had the same one my entire elementary school years. Before you head out take a look at what they have from last year. A good place to hit is the Dollar Tree to save a lot on your back to school items.
The beginning of the year is when you can set habits. I’ve already set my goals for the year.
- Set limits on electronics.
- Have a solid plan for homework time and a place that the kids will do their homework.
- Make sure my cabinets are filled with healthy options for after school snacks.
This is a time for a fresh start so make the most of it. Think about enforcing bedtimes from the start, laying out clothes the night before, packing lunches before bedtime, removing all electronics from their rooms at night.
A couple of my friends have their little kids circle a menu every night before bed for what they want the next morning for breakfast. This way there is breakfast waiting for them when they get up in the morning making the routine move faster. The kids love the process!
Lastly, make sure to schedule something FUN for the family during this stressful time to unwind and be together. Kids need a lot of attention with all the adjustments during this phase of the year and you want to get them in a place where they can relax and confide in you when needed!
For more on back to school check out Fun Back to School Icebreakers for Classrooms, Teams, Troops, and Clubs.
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