Summer is slowly winding down. Even though with just a couple of weeks left for the summer traditions, many parents are already thinking about the transition back to the new school year.
For some, it may be a whole new and even an overwhelming experience as their first child starts kindergarten. For others, it is what they have been doing year after year every September. But for some, the day after Labour Day signifies a fresh new start. This fresh new start could be a new set of goals set both for parents and students alike. Planning to take up new challenges, promises made to oneself and others, and most of all the struggle to get back in to an affective school routine.
Planning, prioritizing, organizing and preparing is the crucial solution to make impending daily routine adjustments easier for you child and yourself as well. Remember, as a parent, the more prepared you are and the more control of this entire schedule you have, the kids will catch on your lead, follow your example and will gradually blend in to the routine.
It is important to outline and prioritize tasks. Keep your cool, do not be too hard on yourself to “prove “to be a “Do It All” parent. Remind yourself again and again to be supportive of your kids at the beginning and throughout the school year. All this will help prepare your child to relax and transform effortlessly and successfully to the new school year.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to other experienced moms and dads and snag a few pointers and tips as well. Here are a few organization tips and routine ideas to help you stay composed and top of your game.
Back to School Shopping
- Before you head out to the stores with a stack full of flyers and coupons and an aim to buy everything on the list, it is always advisable to assess the needs of your kids. Schedule time with each child to go through a wardrobe inventory. Toss away any damaged and outgrown pieces of clothing. They should immediately be placed in a younger child’s closet or packed away to be donated to charitable organizations. Have the child prepare a list of the clothing items that they will need. Gym clothes, indoor and outdoor shoes.
- Now is also a good time to stress on the child to practice reusing and recycling their clothes, shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes and other stationary items that have enough use life left in them. A nice new outfit for the first day would be nice for the first day pics or even the school pictures that come later. Invest in the closet organisers that have separate days printed on each shelf. Now your child can plan a week’s worth of outfits all by themselves. Undergarments and socks can also be added to the shelf for a quick change in those busy mornings.
- Hold on till the last minute athletic sales for purchasing shoes and gym wear.
- School supply lists can be helpful as well as long and sometimes repetitive. Send your kids on a scavenger hunt around their rooms so they can check off their lists. This will help curb unnecessary purchases and your child will not end with three calculators.
- Shopping solo for school supplies maybe faster, but online shopping is another option and sometimes a better bet. They will be more excited about using the cool stuff that they picked out.
Adjusting the Sleep Cycle
This is perhaps the greatest challenge for parents and children alike as most of us tend to be more relaxed with the sleep hours during the summer break. A week before schools open, start practicing sleep times and nightly routines that look similar to school night routines. Set up an alarm so that everyone is up and about as they normally would during school days.
For the first week of school, try not to overschedule with appointments, activities and playdates in order for the kids to adjust to their routines.
Follow Night Routines
Establish a regular nightly routine with kids. Be firm on the time and that they follow a nightly task schedule. You can make a Task chart and hang it on their walls. The tasks can include preparing and packing their backpacks, getting the school outfit ready, changing into their sleep wear, brushing their teeth and of course the story time. This will encourage them to be prepared and set stress free for the next morning, with less running around or being clueless as to what to wear.
Putting Safety First
- It is very important for kids to know there home addresses and cell numbers of their parents or guardians. You may consider writing them on a piece of cardboard, laminate it and placed in their back packs but it is still advisable to help them practice remembering them by heart as well.
- If your child is walking to school with or without you, take a walk to school using the same route that you intend to use to get to school. The child will feel comfortable and familiar with their surroundings. Point out any crossings, broken paths, traffic signals on the way. Talk about safe crossing and looking all ways, left, right and back before crossing.
- If your child takes the bus, make sure that you go over the bus safety rules over and over again really important
- Even though schools are usually equipped with first aid supplies, there is no harm in packing a tiny kit with a few band aids, alcohol wipes and emergency contact numbers.
Your kids may be able to go to the bathrooms on their own but it is necessary to keep reminding them to take extra caution while using the toilet. Highlighting the importance of washing hands after going to the washroom, when coming back from outdoor play, before and after meals or snacks is really necessary. And it all starts at home as practice makes a second habit. You will experience fewer colds and coughs, lesser trips to the doctor and a happy, healthy child and a well rested you.
Usually, school holiday calendars are available online before school starts. It pays a lot to have the calendar displayed in front of the entire family, so that vacations, trips and family visits can be outlined. Birthdays and special outings can be decided on. A yearly calendar with large displays for everyday of the month comes in handy at this time, as all you have planned can be recorded immediately. Remember to enter all school special holidays on the calendar so you won’t regret an event that you had been silently planning and looking forward to this year.
Mark special reminders in the calendar to buy teachers gifts and similar necessities in time saving you several dreaded trips to the mall. Buying gift cards in bulk at discounted prices can be used for any occasion including surprise birthday invitations that were forgotten in the back packs.
While you are buying a good yearly calendar, remember to grab those sturdy decorative cardboard boxes. You are about to experience an avalanche of paper as soon as school opens. Assign a box to each child. Make sure all artwork, signed tests, and other keepsakes are placed in these boxes. At the end of the year you can sit with your child to choose 2-3 pieces of art work to be either displayed on the wall or that goes in the scrapbook. Another tip is to take pictures of all the projects and store them in separate folders. This is a good way to hold on to all your child’s creative works while not feeling guilty and avoiding piles and piles of paper that take up so much space.
Managing the After School Chaos
The after school routine of snacks and homework and activities is probably the hardest time of the day. Here are a few pointers to make this time relaxing for everyone to ‘Unwind” after a hard day of work.
- Consider turning off your phone and computers and do not answer any calls from friends and family. Pay attention to your kids. Your family will also understand and respect your timeline.
- You can give the kids 15-20 minutes of relaxation time to decompress. Set up a timer and as soon as it goes off, the kids can start their after school tasks.
- Another way to use this time effectively is to be prepared with yummy and healthy snacks. Children can start with their food as soon as they walk in. (After washing their hands, of course).
- While the kids are snacking, you can go through each and every back pack to see if there are papers that need signing, or school trip forms that need to be filled in or birthday invitations.
- Organize a work station with all the supplies necessary to tackle homework. Have your kids go straight to homework after snack, so it it’s not hanging on everyone’s head all night. And the kids can go play as soon as it is done.
- But most of all be ready with bear hugs, snuggles and casual chit chat, not necessarily about school only. You never know what kind of a day your child has had and an immediate hug can melt away any stress and calm them down.
- Packing your kids school lunches that are both healthy and satisfying while covering the essential food pyramid can be a little daunting but with a little planning and some preparation can actually turn out to be simple and fun. A healthy school lunch is comprised of three main food groups which include sufficient sources of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Morning time can be a little stressful as far as preparing a homemade lunch is concerned but with these tips and ideas, you can make maximum use of your limited time in the mornings.
- Prefer reusable lunch containers that are BPA free. Insulated food boxes are a good choice to keep lunches warm and fresh all day.
- You can sit in the family room with a paper and pencil while the entire family is there, watching TV or playing games and casually jot down lunch and snack ideas. Ask the kids to contribute ideas under lists marked for ‘Lunch’, ’Fruits’, ’Veggies’ and ‘Treats’. Kids are more likely to enjoy foods that they had thought of. It will not only cover everyone’s favorites but you can now rush to the grocery with an entire list ready without much fuss.
- Try doubling up family favorites such as pastas and baked casseroles to be packed for lunches later that week.
- Keep easy foods at hands all times like tacos, tortillas and pizza crusts that can be filled or topped up with dinner leftovers.
- Try a different breakfast each morning of the week so you are infusing variety. Example; Cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles and eggs. Batter for some types can be prepared the night before and the kids can even make their own waffles in the waffle iron.
- Leftover chicken can be shredded and portioned. Add different spices like Fajita or Tandoori and add the chicken to sandwiches and wraps.
- Make sure to add a lot of fruits and veggies for snacks. Your school lunch can comprise of a main lunch, 3 to 4 portions of fruits and veggies and a sweet treat twice or thrice a week.
- To make lunches healthier, consider using whole grain breads and tortillas for wraps.
- Pack different food groups in a portioned box and involve kids in creating their own healthier version of lunchables. They can build their own mini pizza with grain tortillas, mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. Or fill their own tacos with lean ground turkey, cheese, cherry tomatoes and lettuce. They can put together a favorite parfait by adding berries and granola to Greek yogurt.
- For drinks introduce them to fruit shakes and smoothies or fruit infused water for enhanced vitamins and nutrients.
- Avoid as much as you can, flavored chips and snacks that contain high amounts of MSGs and are loaded with artificial additives. If you crave these crunchies, try swapping them with natural alternatives like veggie straws, crackers and natural popcorn.
- Though they may seem the easiest solution to beat the morning rush, pre packaged meals are often more expensive than home prepared lunches and seriously lack any kind of nutritional value.
- Sweets can be used as special treats for a good performance or a birthday but should be avoided as much as possible.
- At the beginning of the school year, prepare a bunch of handwritten notes with inspirational quotes, jokes or a special message and add to your kid’s lunch boxes. Keep a sharpie handy to draw on bananas and yogurt tubs for added whimsy and fun.
Use these ideas and tips and feel prepared to start the new school year on the right foot. Remind yourself repeatedly, not to get overwhelmed trying to do ALL of these things. Simply implement things that can eliminate your stress and leave you time to enjoy something that makes YOU happy.