The alarm goes off the first day of school and even though it’s your normal alarm, it feels like the tornado siren. The chaos, the running around, the panic, and maybe even a few tears begin.
Even though I do not have a child who is of school-age yet, I work at a school and can only imagine what the first day of school looks like for parents. Kids are either very excited to go back or kids (and parents alike) are in tears. And sometimes those tears happen for over a month. A summer spent with family all day everyday, and then switching to 7 or so hours at school is a huge change for everyone.
So how do you ensure that it is a smooth transition? Well, I do not have all the answers and if there was a tried and true way, I am sure there wouldn’t be people like me, bloggers, who write posts about how to do just that. So again, I am no expert, but these are just a few ideas on how to maybe jumpstart the transition:
Prepare the kids in advance
- Start the time transition early. If your child is used to getting up at 8:00am in the summer, I can dare say that the first day they have to wake up at 7:00am may not go so well. Start the transition early by enforcing an earlier bedtime each week leading up to it (starting in 15 minute increments) and then get them up 15 minutes earlier. Then when school starts, they will be adjusted
- Start talking about your child going back to school with them. Do they seem anxious? Excited? Talk openly with them and validate their feelings so they feel understood.
Determine what is needed
- Clothes – it is not too late to go through their drawers and determine what clothes are needed. Garage sales are still happening and thrift stores are always open if you do not feel like spending a fortune on brand new clothes. Set a budget for each child or have them choose one new outfit if that is something you can afford.
- Watch for sales – think school supplies! It seems like every store that sells school supplies eventually has a sale. As much as I would love to say take full advantage of them all, I would say do not stress about getting to EVERY store, just to get the best deal. If it’s only going to save you a few pennies (markers were $.05 cheaper at the other store), it’s going to cost you that amount to get there. Make it easy on yourself and just buy what you can all at one store.
- What papers are needed for your child to go back to school? Did your child transfer schools? What is required for immunizations? Is your child in sports? Do they need a sports physical before the first practice? Contact the school to determine what papers are needed for your child to attend
Prepare YOU in advance
- Fill out all of the necessary paperwork in advance. Do not wait until the night before to do this because it will just be a bad start for everyone!
- What time do YOU need to get to have enough time for YOU? As you are adjusting your children’s bedtime schedule, you may have to adjust yours too!
Create a schedule center
- CALENDARS AND/OR PLANNERS! The best way to stay organized and for everyone to be on the same page is to create a center where all schedules and appointments are listed. For some this means having a calendar that everyone can see and for others this means making sure mama knows exactly what is going on so she can write it in her planner. Whatever method words for you, make sure that all papers, appointment cards, and reminders all land in this area so that you are not late or miss out on anything!
Set up a homework center
- The dreaded word when kids go back to school – HOMEWORK. Let’s be honest – the homework is a pain for the kids, but often it’s an even bigger pain for the parents, especially when the parent is trying to get supper ready and there are 4 kids asking questions about their homework. This is where setting up a center where homework is done, may be helpful. Think about the kitchen table so that when you do have to help while making dinner, you are readily available. Also, set up a “homework time” such as no homework before tv or before doing this or that to ensure your child isn’t up until 9:00 doing homework (unless they are older of course).
- This may or may not help some families, but at the beginning of each week, think about sitting down and setting up a meal plan. If making a meal plan for each week seems like too much too do, consider just writing down your family’s favorite recipes and then starting there. You could always rotate those and then slowly add in other options as the weeks go on. That way you aren’t coming up with a new menu every single week. If your family loves spaghetti? Why not have it once a week? Pizza? Who doesn’t love that? Have it once a week!
- Find easy snacks for your kids to eat. Snacks are a kids’ comfort I think. Snacks are exciting, snacks can be entertaining, and snacks just taste good. You could create a snack center so that when the kids come home from school, you aren’t scrambling trying to find something to feed them. Here are some ideas:
- Apples and peanut butter
- Crackers and cheese
- String Cheese
- Cut-up fruit or vegetables
- Homemade nachos
- One of my favorite go-to snacks is this refrigerated spinach dip (click here for recipe). What makes this recipe all the more tasty is using Pretzel Crisps! If you are looking for a healthy back-to-school snack, give Pretzel Crisps a try! Here’s why:
- They are made with no trans fat, saturated fat or cholesterol.
- Do not have GMO-ingredients in them
- Have only 100 calories per serving
- Even picky eaters are known to like them
- Can eat plain or with any dip
- Healthy alternative to chips and other forms of crackers