As much as I’d like to claim to be a Pinterest Mom (you know what I’m talking about ) I am so totally not. Though I do have it together more then some I know, sometimes I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants. Literally.
You know the days where you’re just not sure what’s going on? You wake up and you think it’s Saturday yet it’s only Thursday? You rush to get ready, to find out one of the kids needs to be to school early and another just has to ride the bus, and you forgot to pack lunches?
I hate to admit it, but that’s me a lot of the time. But this year I vow that this school year is going to not be like all the last – we are going to have a plan. I’ve even prepared and printed out a weekly cleaning/chore calender (for my use – and the kids), as well as the makings of a meal planning calender as well. With school normally starting the week before Labor Day I thought, “Hey, I got this!”
That is until I saw a teacher friend of mine post “Who ever came up with starting back to school this early was nuts” – upon further investigation I found out that school no longer starts August 28th, but August 13th!!!
Yeah, it was one of those moments. So my action plan needed to be expedited immediately. I no longer had 6 weeks of prep, but now 3! This year I am determined to be the Pinterest Mom we all dream about (or at least partially). Here are some great tips from WebMD to get prepped for back to school without the stress.
1. Re-Establish School Routines
Use the last few weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. “Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning,” suggests school psychologist Kelly Vaillancourt, MA, CAS. Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.
It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. That can be a challenge for working parents, says Vaillancourt, who is the director of government relations for the National Association of School Psychologists. But when the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJs after breakfast.
2. Nurture Independence
Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder. This might include organizing his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework, says Nicole Pfleger, school counselor at Nickajack Elementary School in Smyrna, GA.
Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. “The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult,” Pfleger says.
3. Create a Launch Pad
“Parents and teachers should do whatever they can to facilitate a child being responsible,” says Pfleger, who was named School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association in 2012. At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.
4. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework
Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. “Even if it’s the kitchen table, it really helps if kids know that’s where they sit down and do homework, and that it happens at the same time every day,” says Pfleger. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.
5. After-School Plans
School gets out before most working parents get home, so it’s important to figure out where your children will go, or who will be at home, in the afternoons. You might find an after-school program through the school itself, a local YMCA, or a Boys and Girls Club. If possible, try to arrange your schedule so you can be there when your child gets home during those first few days of school. It may help your child adjust to the new schedule and teachers.
6. Make a Sick-Day Game Plan
Working parents also know the trials and tribulations of getting a call from the school nurse when they can’t get away from the office. “Most of our parents, because of the economy, are working,” says Pfleger. Before school begins, line up a trusted babysitter or group of parents that can pinch hit for each other when children get sick. And make sure you know the school’s policy. You may have to sign forms ahead of time listing people who have your permission to pick up your child.
7. Attend Orientations to Meet and Greet
Schools typically hold orientation and information sessions before the start of each academic year. These are good opportunities for you to meet the key players: your child’s teachers, school counselors, the principle, and most importantly, front desk staff. “The secretaries know everything and are the first people children see when they arrive at school every day,” says Vaillancourt.
8. Talk to the Teachers
Of course, teachers are the reason your child is there. When you talk to your child’s teachers, ask about their approach to homework. Some teachers assign homework so kids can practice new skills while others focus on the accuracy of the assignments they turn in. Ask for the dates of tests and large assignments so you can help your child plan accordingly. For instance, if you know a big test is coming up on Friday morning, you will know to keep things simple on Thursday evening.
9. Make it a Family Affair
Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. “The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it,” says Vaillancourt.
I’d like to add a few things – This is great information for general prep but what about us Mom’s? From Organized Homes
Ease the family into a school year schedule.
The first day of school is no time for a drastic adjustment of household sleep schedules. Instead, ease children back into a school year routine gradually. During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they’ll need to rise when school begins.
Don’t neglect mealtimes! Younger children, in particular, need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them. Plan meals and snacks to accustom little ones to rituals of the school day before the school year begins.
Create Calendar Central
Each school year floats on a sea of schedules. School functions. Lunch menus. Scout meetings and music lessons. What do you do when you’re drowning in paper?
Nothing calms school year chaos like Calendar Central: a centralized site for all family calendars and schedules. You’ll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs and volunteer work. Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.
Form is less important than function. A paper calendar with large squares lets you enter information easily. Pre-printed white board calendars are easy to revise when necessary. Color-coding entries by family member helps keep busy lives straight.
Paper planner fans dedicate a planner section to serve as Calendar Central, while tech-savvy cybergrrrlz store the info in a smart phone or tablet and sync with multiple computers. Choose a calendar format that works for your family.
Post the family event calendar in a public place near the telephone. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or tack it to a bulletin board.
Add other calendars to Calendar Central: school lunch menus, class assignment sheets, sports practice schedules. When the room mother calls for field trip volunteers, you’ll know at a glance whether you’re free to join the group on the bus that day.
Plan before you shop
August is the second-biggest sales month for clothing retailers. Back to school clothing sales begin as early as July! Are you prepared to run the school clothes gauntlet?
An informed shopper is a savvy shopper, so prepare before you shop.
Take an afternoon and assess each child’s clothing needs.
Empty drawers and closets of outgrown or worn-out clothing, and either store or donate the discards.
Working with your child, clean and organize clothing storage before new garments are added–and cut down on school morning calls of “Mom! I don’t have any clean . . . . ”
Develop a wardrobe needs list for each child. Check for possible hand-me-downs from older siblings as you make your list. If you discuss the needs list and the family budget with your children before you shop, you’ll avoid in-the-store tantrums.
Similarly, ask the school for classroom supply lists before shopping for school supplies. Forewarned is forearmed … and helps protect the family budget.
Do shop early! With back-to-school sales beginning in mid-July, tardy shoppers have a tough time locating needed supplies among September’s Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations.
Gather your papers
School entry may require documentation from immunization records to report cards from the previous school year. Athletes need proof of medical examination. A little preparation can prevent frantic last-minute searches for a birth certificate or registration confirmation.
Call your child’s school or check the school district Web site beforehand to find out what paperwork will be required–then find it! You won’t be sorry come registration day.
Take aim on morning madness
How are school mornings in your home? Crazed and chaotic, or calm and cheerful? Plan ahead to send your schoolchildren–and yourself!–out the door in a happy frame of mind.
Each evening, think ahead to the following morning; where can you lighten the load? Set the breakfast table as you clear the dinner dishes, and make sure breakfast foods are easy to reach. Lay out children’s clothing the night before. Scan backpacks or launch pad spaces for missing homework, projects or library books. Make sure musical instruments or sports bags are packed and ready to go.
Do “bathroom wars” break out daily among the small fry? Multi-child households may need a bathroom schedule so that everyone gets equal time before the mirror.
What do you do about books and papers, lunch money and permission slips? Practice the Launch Pad concept! By creating a dedicated space for every family member, a Launch Pad gets the family out the door in record time–and organized.
Make a practice run
How will children get to school? The first day of school is no time to find out it takes ten minutes–not five–to walk to the nearest bus stop!
Before school begins, make a practice run to get children to the school on time.
If they’ll walk, help them learn the route they’ll take and note the needed time.
Car-pooling? Make sure the dry run accounts for early-morning traffic!
Bus riders will need to be familiar with the location of the bus stop; print and post the bus schedule to prevent a missed bus.
Spiff up household systems
A new school year quickens the tempo of family life. Sports activities, music lessons, church programs and volunteer commitments tap parental time and put new mileage on the mini-van. Get organized! Spiff up your household systems to meet autumn’s faster pace:
Clean house … fast! Take a stab at speed cleaning and whip through household chores in record time.
Cut time in the kitchen: create a menu plan and never again wonder “What’s for dinner?”
Streamline dinner preparations. Try a session of freezer cooking to stock the freezer with prepared entrees for stress-free dinner on sports night.
Conquer the paper pile-up. Set up a basic home filing system to track school paperwork, volunteer activities and household planning
Happy New School Year! Time to swing into a new school year–from an organized home.
What is your favorite “Back to School” tip???