The time to go back to school is nearly on us again. This can be a stressful time, not only for the kids, especially if they are in a new school or changing classes, but also for you, the parents.
There are three common struggles that we find parents have to deal with: routine changes, necessary supplies and clothes that must be purchased and, once school starts, an inevitable paper deluge. Our advice is to prepare for what you can and forgive yourself for the rest.
How can you prepare for all the schedule changes?
• Find out ahead of time what the schedules for after-school classes will be. Co-ordinate between the kids, and, if possible, put all the kids activities on the same days. This may make those days a little more hectic, but it will also give you some “time off” during the week too when your kids can just be kids and you can spend some time with them too.
• Work out transport options for the days when you do have after school activities. No one I know loves driving in traffic day in and day out. Consider carpooling with other parents to save both the environment and your sanity. If you’re kids are older, consider the bus or walking.
• Plan slow cooker meals or easy-to-prepare meals on the days you know you will be late home.
How can you get all the supplies together?
• Remind yourself of the school’s dress code and check your budget before you go shopping for the new season.
• Some schools will give you a list of stationery, art and other supplies before school starts, so put a “supplies shopping” time into your schedule now. If you will not get the list until school has started, put the shopping time date into your schedule in the first week of school.
How can you cope with the paper?
• Set yourself up for the paper deluge. Create an area or container for all the school papers to land when they get home. We at Organize to Excel always suggest our clients set up a binder for each child.
• Make sure your child knows to separate the important papers (ones that need to be signed by a parent, information about field trips, etc.) and where to put them. This should be a place that is separate from their school work. It could be the front pocket of their schoolwork binder, it could be on your desk, it doesn’t really matter as long as you and your child both know where the papers should go.
• Take the few minutes each day to help your child deal with the papers as they come in the door and you’ll have an organized child who is more likely to get all their homework in on time, have all the permission slips signed and returned at the appropriate time, and the stress of a last minute rush looking for permission slips reduced or even eliminated.
Going back to school for kids and parents can be low-stress if you set yourself up for success with a little prep work.