A Parent's Survival Guide to Back to School

Posted by Lyndsay Hart on Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 at 1:50pm.

 

Okay, let’s take a breath and talk about this. Or maybe it’s just me that needs to take a breath…. I can’t be the only one that’s starting to freak out? It’s happening!! School is coming!

The start of the school year isn’t just a major shift for our kids. It’s a major shift for us parents too! The lazy days of summer are almost over and it is a sad time indeed. But have no fear, I’ve come up with the few tips to help make the transition back into school life as smooth as possible.

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A Parent’s Survival Guide to Back to School

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First and foremost, remember to enlist some help. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.  By doing it all by yourself, you will end up being exhausted and “aint nobody got time for that“ - maybe for a cold pop though? (Please tell me someone gets that reference…..).  

So, grab your partner, grab your parent, grab your friend or grab anyone else who can help you out and make a PLAN. My biggest saviours are lists and calendars. If it’s not in my phone or on a piece of paper it just doesn’t happen. Gone are the days when I could remember things off the top of my head. I think that left after my second child was born along with my sanity.

 Okay, let’s go! 

  1. The DREADED bedtime! Pull out your pre-summer bedtime routine and throw it at the kids. Just kidding! But really, bedtime is such an important routine in my house. If my kids don’t get enough sleep at night the next morning is not fun! You should start tapering back the kid’s bedtime in 15 minute increments until you get to that magic time where you know mornings won’t be the worst! That’s between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm in our household! 
  1. Let’s talk extracurriculars. Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are great for the kids but maybe not so much for the bank account. By now, Fall sports will be open for registration and they usually fill up fast. I know it can be hard to decide how many extracurricular activities your kids should be in but, the magic number in our household is usually two each. I sometimes wish it was one though, to be honest. Be sure to check the days of the week each activity is on so that there are no conflicts. Pull out your super-duper mom calendar and grab your partner. It’s time to work out who’s taking who to what. It’s important to talk about these types of things beforehand so that there are no misunderstandings on the weekly extracurriculars schedule. Don’t try to take it on all by yourself. You don’t need the stress of meeting everyone’s needs all on your own! Write it down, take a picture! Do whatever you need to do to make life easy. Oh and step away from that volunteers needed email if you don’t have a lot of time. Volunteering to coach or manage a kid’s team is A LOT of hard work and commitment. If you have the time, fabulous! If not, don’t make things harder for yourself. Trust me, I know this from experience. Stretching yourself thin will make things hard on everyone in the house. 
  1. Supper Prep. It’s 5 o’clock, you’ve just left work and you are rushing to pick the kids up from their after school care. You’re driving blissfully through rush hour traffic and suddenly you remember – I didn’t take anything out for supper!!!! UGHHHH!!!!  As soon as the kids get in the car, their first question is the question that all parents loathe, “what’s for supper?”. After that question, you succumb to the realization that you’re probably having something from a drive-thru for supper. There goes that healthy eating plan you had laid out because we need to get to Gymnastics! Let’s face it, we’ve all been there, done that and bought the t-shirt to boot! Don’t feel bad. We can’t win them all. So, here’s what I try to do most of time. To be honest though, this isn’t something that happens all the time. Sometimes I have great days/weeks where the kids are fed healthy five star meals for breakfast, lunch and supper (HA!) and then there are those times where I’m lucky if I had time to wash my own hair let alone take something out of the freezer for supper. But I digress. What I try to do is plan my meals out for the week. We buy a week’s worth of groceries at a time so that nothing goes to waste and so that I have a plan! I write it out on the white board on my fridge which helps to alleviate the inevitable question of “what’s for supper”. I know it might sound a little ridged and time consuming but if you have time to go on Social Media for a few minutes a night, you have time to organize supper for the week.  Try to involve the kids in the meal decisions. It will make it a little easier when they try to say they don’t want to eat something for dinner later on in the week!  One more little tip for September dinners…. this might sound a little crazy (I think it’s ingenious) but, I plan on signing up for the first two weeks of school with Hello Fresh. It may cost a little bit more than groceries but, I think our sanity is worth it. Or at least in my case, it’s worth trying to find it again after it ran away with my memory 10 years ago.   
  1.  School Supplies. I love taking the kids with me to buy their supplies. I make it fun by giving them things to find on their own, kind of like their own little treasure hunt. It helps make it exciting for them and saves me from searching for everything on my own haha. My kid’s school gives pictures of things if they are particularly hard to find and I think that is so helpful. Staples has been my go to school supply store since my kids started school long long ago. Their prices are great and the services is pretty good too. Oh, here’s the number one “mom of 18 years” pro tip – BUY AN ELECTRIC PENCIL SHARPENER. It only took me 16 years and three kids to figure this one out…. But hey, I didn’t say I was the smartest mom in the school drop off line.  Something I plan on doing this year for my kid’s teachers is making a little basket with a few provisions for them. Things such as hand sanitizer, tissues, Lysol wipes and a Tim’s gift card with a little note introducing myself and my child. Yea, I can be one of “those” moms sometimes too.  Teachers are the best humans on earth and help to shape our little ones. Treat them good! They will appreciate it. Do you remember where I said to step away from those volunteering emails if you don’t have the time? Well, I would put that to the wayside when talking about volunteering for your child’s school classroom or school. I mean, you don’t have to be the Parent Teacher Coalition’s President, but sign up to send cookies to the Halloween Party, or volunteer to help set up the Spring Fair. Those little things go a long way in a school. Every bit helps. 
  1. Organize, Organize, Organize! I really can’t stress enough the importance of a master family calendar. We have one on our fridge so everyone in the house can see and I also have a family calendar set up on our smart phones where all our appointments go including sports, field trips, no school days (because sometimes I wake up and don’t know what day it is), and what days we don’t have to make lunch! Don’t worry, I’m not even going to talk about school lunches. It stresses me out too much. I will say that The Lunch Lady at our school is a goddess sent from the heavens. If you don’t have a school cafeteria, you should start a petition now and get a Lunch Lady at your school ASAP! There I go again getting off topic. Back to the master calendar! It may sound a little silly to micromanage every appointment in your life but it takes so much stress off your day/week knowing what’s coming up and who needs to be where by what time!  

So, I think that wraps up the essential things that we need to think about to ready the kids and ourselves to get back in to school mode. One last thing I plan on doing is having a backyard BBQ and inviting some of the kid’s school friends over. They haven’t seen each other all summer and it would be nice to help them reconnect before heading back to school for the year.

 

Good luck in your prep for back to school – may the odds be ever in your favour!

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