Tuesday, July 31, 2018
You may be rejoicing that school is starting back up soon or you may be sad that summer is over, but either way… buckle up, people – you are in for a big change of pace! Even if you aren’t a teacher like me (high school Spanish), the beginning of the school year is nuts! It’s stressful to be a mom or parent at back to school time – can I get an “Amen”? Every year, I think I will do better and be better but every year it hits me like a ton of bricks, despite my preparations. Here are some tips that I plan to employ and that might help you, too.
Why am I qualified to write this? This will be my 12th year doing back to school as a mom and my 25th year doing back to school as a teacher! Check out my first back to school post here if you are so inclined.
Nowadays I’m really just responsible for myself in the mornings. My twin boys who will be juniors get themselves up, make their own breakfast and walk to school. They leave the house about 40 minutes before school starts and it’s about an 8 minute walk. They like that morning time to chat with friends and let’s be honest, they also finish up a bit of homework, I’m sure. I’m at the same school so they can ride with me if they choose and I leave about the same time, but they enjoyed their independence and a little bit of fresh air last year until about the end of October.
-Try to gradually make bedtime earlier – maybe go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for the week leading up – depending on how late you had let the child stay up during the summer.
-Try to gradually get kids up earlier in the morning. Maybe make early a.m haircut or vaccination appointments in the week leading up?
-If your child is going to a new school, walking to school or riding their bike for the first time, do a dry run and time it with your phone. I have found that people seriously underestimate how long it takes to get places.
-It would be fun to time your child’s entire routine! I bet elementary and maybe middle school kids would get a kick out of this. You could even do it more than once and see if anything changes? Hey, you’re out of activities at this point in the summer so why not?
-We had a rule that our boys couldn’t exit their bedroom until they were fully dressed including socks and shoes. This just left breakfast. No screens were allowed until fully dressed, either. You may want to have a no screen rule in the mornings period.
-Lay everything out the night before. Insist that backpacks be fully packed and do as much lunch and breakfast prep as possible. I do this for myself, as well. I lay out everything I need the night before – papers, special items for a lesson, my clothes, everything. Mornings are hard. Make them as easy as possible. You can even set a breakfast table. Hey, I know it sounds very type A, but your morning self will thank you.
-Homework: I think you need to find what works best for your kids. My kids walked home with me from elementary school (I got out an hour and a half before them – so nice!) and we stopped at the school playground every day. This was great for them and we really stopped and played in all types of weather. Also, I think my kids were in 2nd grade when I was obsessed with not getting the swine flu/H1N1 and I would make them take off uniforms right away to be washed when we got home. (This also goes a long way to keeping allergens at bay and other viruses they pick up at school, IMO.) So, our tradition has always been to immediately change into “cozies”. I do this also to protect my nicer school clothes. Then, we would tackle homework while eating a snack.
We are lucky to go back on a Wednesday this year. As an educator and a parent, I think Monday start days are just wrong. It’s better for all involved to ease back in with a shorter week.
For the first week or two weeks, just think easy prep and/or freezer meals. I am planning to stock up on frozen entrees from Trader Joe’s and Costco and give myself a break. The meals won’t be super healthy or creative, but we are in survival mode. I will buy frozen meals for my lunch, too. I will also buy some salad kits and individual serving packets to make life easier. I will start doing online grocery shopping again as I don’t do it as much during the summer.
If you can, try not to plan evening activities the first week back. It will be all your kids can do to do homework, eat dinner, take a bath, and go to bed. The long school day is really tiring no matter what the age of the children. I hope that community youth sports don’t start right away and that schools don’t have evening activities the first week.
Remember that you as a parent will have tons of papers to sign and fill out and you will be getting up much earlier, too. I have a friend who stays up until 1 a.m. and then has to go back to bed after taking kids to school at 7. This is no way to live, in my opinion. The whole house needs an earlier bedtime and it’s an adjustment for everyone in the family.
Let me get on my soap box for a minute:
Please remember not to complain about the new schedule, the papers you have to sign, the school supplies, how tired you are, how you are mad that they start before Labor Day, etc. Your attitude is contagious and your kids really do feed off of you. We are so blessed to get to give our children an education and to have teachers and schools who love our kids! Learning should be fun! Kids should want to go to school! I still love going to school!
O.k., stepping off of soap box…
What tips do you have for me or my readers?
What did I forget?
Remember to check out my first back to school post here!
Best of luck as you start the 2018-19 school year!