September 1, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
Tip #1. Share this before school starts! (Lol …Oh, did I say that out loud?) Yes, in many areas, kids are already back to school, but here’s a few tips for easing the family back into the swing of things of a more reliable schedule that will help keep everyone happy before, during and after the school season!
With the start of school, families face new challenges. Coming off three months of vacations, Summer camps, daily activities and being in and around the house, few families keep a regimented schedule of, “up at 7am, breakfast, get ready and out the door” during the off-season. Even if you do, the start of school equals change.
There are some that can change on a dime, quit cold-turkey and rip the band-aid right off without so much as a flinch. I would guess most of us do not fit into this category. And when it happens this way, the level of stress it puts on families can be a downer, so try to ease into the schedule changes. Little by little, it’s much easier to wake up a 7 a.m. if for the last two weeks, I’ve been getting up early each day fifteen minutes at a time. The same holds true with meal time, study time and a more ‘time-blocked’ schedule.
Tip #3. Prepare for the windfall.
If your kids aren’t in school yet, shall I connect you with some of the parents that have already been to the schools’ open house, met the teachers, and were bombarded by the piles of paper to fill out regarding bus schedules, immunization records, books and supply lists, and emergency contact info updates? We’re all busy, so prepare yourself to spend a little time dealing with all the new items on the to do list the school and teachers need.
Tip #4. Create a centralized calendar.
With the ocean of schedules, activities, sports, music, lunch menus, classes, school functions, etc., create and post a schedule for all the world to see. At least, the world of your household. When everyone knows what’s going on and what to expect, the world (your home and family) is a better place. Create a large paper calendar/white board that lends itself to writing on it. Use a Google calendar for your connected family. Whatever you use – get everyone involved and you’ll never get blindsided again!
Tip #5. Get ready to go shopping. Again.
Although August is one of the biggest shopping month for clothing retailers, you know that in a few short months, they’ll want new fashions and perhaps be grown out of the clothes you bought them before school. I’ve always found the “After Christmas sale” time to be great for that. Many parents want to, or are expected to contribute paper, pencils and other school supplies, so ask your teachers what they need.
Tip #6. Do you dance? Time to do the ‘clean-out’ shuffle!
Empty drawers and closets of outgrown or worn-out clothing, used up supplies and either store them or donate. Work with your child. Clean and organize closets and clothing storage so new garments can have a happy home. By the way, do you have an extra room in the house for the vast inventory of school supplies? Perhaps a box or plastic containers to help organize them. Otherwise, you find them in couch cushions, under tables, and all over the place.
Tip #7. Steady yourself for morning madness.
Describe school mornings in your home. Chaos? Calm and cheerful? A little bit of both?A little planning ahead will send your school children, and yourself – out the door in a happy frame of mind. How many articles have I read about how what we do in the first hours of the morning sets the tone for the day? Plenty. Give you and your kids a chance at starting (and finishing) with success.
Tip #8. Make your trip work for you.
Here’s a rule I learned far too late in life, and it applies to the entire family. Don’t go upstairs unless you’re bringing something that belongs up there. Toys, clothes, books, stuff. And don’t come downstairs unless you have something that needs to be down here. Dirty clothes, school work, etc. If you are clearing the table off, set it for the next meal. Plan the meals of the week before going grocery shopping. That’s a good one. How many times did I go into the store for a gallon of milk, only to come out spending $150 on “stuff?’ Here’s a great time to look at your household systems, too. Knowing what needs to be done and when, only helps you focus on more important things.
Tip #9. The more you do for your children, the less they can do for themselves.
Yes, I know. We all want the best for our kids. However, the best is keeping them engaged and there’s no better opportunity to do that when it comes to holding down the fort. By the time my kids were 10, they were washing their own clothes, cooking dinners, driving themselves to school… Ha! Seriously though, deep down, they really want to feel like they are contributing. Gradually give them more responsibilities and no one will be disappointed.
And finally, Tip #10. Have fun, be grateful.
This time of year can be stressful. For you and the kids. Make yours and everyone’s life more enjoyable by understanding the sometimes chaotic school days, preparing for them, getting everyone involved and being grateful for the process that will grow your kids into great adults!