It’s that time of year again. The day light hours start getting a bit shorter, and the lazy days of summer are coming to an end. If your kids haven’t started school yet, they are probably just days away from the first day of school. When the first day of school approaches, life can get a little bit hectic. There’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of organizing to do. Moms and kids can both get a bit anxious preparing to get the school year off to a good start.
Here are a few tips to help you get ready for school, rush a little bit less, and make your school year run a bit more smoothly.
We’re all guilty of it. We let our kids stay up a bit later at night and sleep in a bit longer in the mornings. That’s part of the fun of summer, right? But going from this laid back routine to a complete change of schedule cold turkey is tough. Instead, start easing into the routine in 15 minute increments each day until you’ve established the bedtime and wake-up time that will be used once school starts. You might also consider giving them lunch each day at the same time they will be eating at school so they get used to that as well.
The school year is full of important dates like teacher planning days, holidays, and early release dates. To be sure that everyone is on the same schedule, place a family calendar in a central location where everyone can see. Be sure to have a short meeting every Sunday with your family and update the calendar for the week so that nothing gets missed. If your kids are older and have cell phones, consider using an online calendar such as Google Calendar that the entire family can access. This is also great because you can set reminders for events. That way your high schooler won’t forget to go get his litter sister from her soccer practice.
Before you head out to buy clothes for your kids, go through their current wardrobe and remove items that they no longer wear or have outgrown. Once this is done, take inventory of what they still need. Organize their drawers and closet too so that items are easier to find on those early morning school days. When you do hit the stores, consider getting a capsule wardrobe; one that has a few staple pieces that they can mix and match. Examples of a capsule wardrobe might include a good pair of jeans and shorts, basic t-shirts, a cardigan or jean jacket, and a casual pair of tennis shoes.
The school supply list you got from your child’s teacher may be long, but they know what your child will need for their school projects. Be sure to get everything on this list, and consider throwing in a treat or two for your child to give their teacher. Now is also the time to stock up on extra school supplies too. Everything is on sale this time of year, so buy a few extra glue sticks, pencils, and notebook paper now instead of paying triple the price when your child runs out in January. Be sur to stock up on supplies that they may need for projects at home. At some point they will likely need poster board, pencils, crayons, markers, etc. for homework, so grab some of those while your shopping. And don’t forget to look online for good sales, too.
As a parent, this might have been the most lifesaving space I ever created. Even if your kids have a space in their room to work, is that really where they do their homework? Mine tend to gravitate towards the dining room table, so I created a space that will hold all of their supplies right where they are working. This also means that they are more likely to put things away when they are finished instead of leaving them laying on the table. At my house, I have a buffet that sits beside our table. I filled a couple of the drawers with extra pencils, glue sticks, colored pencils, markers, crayons, notebook paper, rules, and a calculator. If there is one thing you do to prep for the school year, this should be it.
This is another one that should be a priority on your list. To keep your house from being a mess after the kids get home from school, create a space where they drop of their belongings when they get home. Where do you want them to hang their backpacks? Where should they put their shoes? Do they have papers that need to be signed? Make a bin for those papers that you know to check every evening. Put a basket by the door to throw their shoes in, and some hooks on the wall for backpacks. The clutter may still be there, but it will look much tidier than having it laying in the floor.
You spend all day at work, grab the kids from school, head out to after school activities, and before you know it, it’s 7 p.m. before you finally make it home. How are you going to get healthy meals on the table without planning ahead? Consider making a few freezer meals on a Saturday afternoon that you can throw in the slow cooker in the morning before you head to work or put in the oven after a long busy day comes to an end. You can also cook a bunch of pancakes or waffles and freeze them so breakfast goes on autopilot during the week. Plan your meals for the week in advance in our colorful journals so there is no question what you need to prep and what you need to cook for dinner each night. Knowing what is going on the table well in advance is a huge relief.
Kids come home from a busy day of school and they’re almost always hungry. Don’t let them have free range of the kitchen. Instead, create a snack station. It may be one drawer or cabinet, a bin in the refrigerator, or a space in the pantry, but whatever you choose, stock it with things your kids can have to tide them over until dinner time.
This tip will change based on the ages of your kids, but is a necessity no matter what the age. Starting kids out young with a morning and afternoon/evening routine will teach kids how to establish a routine they can use throughout their life. Consider writing out a routine for morning and afternoon/evening on a dry erase board and post it where your kids can easily see it. Routines for the morning may include things such as brush teeth, make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, and pack school lunch in backpack. After school routines may include putting papers in the parent bin, getting a snack, working on homework, and completing chores. After dinner routines may include finishing homework, loading your backpack, take a bath, brush teeth, and pick out tomorrow’s outfit.
Even implementing one or two of the above tips can result in a much less stressful school year for you and your children. So, make your list, start preparing now, and best wishes for a stress-free, fun year!