Start smart! Changing gears from your summer groove to school-savvy routines may take some creative thinking on your part as a parent. Far more than school shopping lists, wake up and breakfast routines, the smarter parents, have these 10 back to school tips right on their fingertips.
#10 – Reset and Readjust
Time to reset those summer habits a week or two before school officially begins. More than just rebooting bedtimes and morning calls, it’s the best time also to reset eating habits. School is hard work, and your child needs the nutrition to go through his school day and his homework. From setting up breakfast, snack, lunch, and afterschool snack – budget and a reasonable meal plan are all in your hands.
Wean the kids from too much TV and late bedtimes at least a week before school starts. Sleep patterns are more than crucial to your child’s academic life; we are talking health and well-being. If your child throws the “last weekend of my marvelous summer life” at you, stand firm.
#9 – Let’s Talk About Food
Food is your body’s fuel, and a smart school routine begins with sleep and nutrition. But who has time to keep the kids fed and happy all throughout the day, 5 (five) days a week? The answer – set up a snack station that you only need to keep filled up weekly or maybe even for longer if you are smart about it.
Set aside a refrigerator drawer for fresh fruits individually bagged – grapes, apples, oranges, and carrot sticks. Add single-serve yogurt, cheese sticks, and premade cold sandwiches. Give the kids a pantry shelf with bagged single servings of food they can snack on or bring to school such as pretzels, cookies, and biscuits. Keep your sanity while keeping the kids happy and fed.
#8 – Handy Homework
Pinterest might be telling you to set up that homework station but not every home is set up with space. The smart answer is to make a homework caddy for the kids that put school supplies in one handy basket without taking up space in your kitchen.
You can make your child excited for school by letting her help you decorate and organize the caddy – from crayons, pens, sharpeners, tape, and some stickers. Best of all, it’s mobile so your child can work on her homework elsewhere if you need more kitchen space. You can also save cents and sense when school supplies don’t get misplaced or lost.
#7 – Shop Wise and Early
Okay, this isn’t your first go-around for school shopping. Or even if it’s your first, you have been there. Do the school shopping early, and start with the heavy stuff like shoes, clothes, and bag.
School supplies are more or less the same. When the school list comes out, you have already done majority fo your shopping, and that means less hassle for you when the mall is filled with fellow school shoppers.
It also means fewer bags to carry, and you can leave a child or two in the house instead of making them tag along for fittings.
#6 – Morning Mania Maneuvers
Make Monday mornings, or rather every morning less manic by setting up a cereal station permanently. Put single servings of your child’s favorite cereals in Tupperware containers, keep plastic spoons on hand, and buy a milk container with a spigot.
Also, have the kids get fresh fruits from the snack drawer (see Tip # 9) to add to their breakfast.
This would be especially helpful for those tired mornings just after submitting a project proposal or overtime. This would also help instill self-independence on your kid.
#5 – De-clutter Your Car
Looking for the lost left shoe or the coat carelessly thrown at the back of the car or backpacks? Let the kids hang up their own coats at the back of the car by putting hangers with suction cups.
Put a lost mini bin where the kids can rummage looking for their stuff, save your sanity from cleaning after them, instead of you clearing the black hole called “the back of the car.”
#4 – Don’t Drown in Laundry
Save time by setting aside laundry drawers for your child’s clothes in the laundry room instead of you taking trips to put his clothes in his room. Maybe you can travel back and forth for one kid, but if you have three, this is the smart and savvy way. If you don’t have a drawer, give your kids color-coded laundry baskets to make things more organized. You can also make the kids carry their own laundry back to their rooms.
If you have a child in high school or responsible middle schooler, this would also be the best time to start passing on those life skills. Better now than college regrets of mixing coloreds with whites.
#3 – Plan for Emergencies
You may be Super Mom but supermoms can be stuck in traffic too, and super dads may need to stay a bit longer in the office. Plan for those times when you cannot make the school pick up. The best is setting up an emergency plan with a neighbor, a family member or a parent of your child’s classmate.
You can also exchange contact info with a few parental allies in the school for late-minute favors or child sitting requests. You can also use this to get some alone time in the evening. Just make sure that you return the favor.
#2 – Picking Priorities
Can I watch TV now? I haven’t chatted with my BFFs for the longest time. I’m so close to defeating the chieftain with my clan.
Football practices, ballet, computer games, TV time, social media, sports, hanging out with friends, homework, and extracurricular activities are going to vie for your child’s attention (and also yours.)
Look over your child’s schedule and work out a routine that won’t sacrifice important school work but won’t miss out on the good stuff of childhood.
Set aside 90 to 120 minutes of your child’s daily routine to keep up with school and stick to it. This is you giving your child the routine to learn self-discipline and time management that will take him places in adult life.
#1 – Affirming Your Authority
If you are paying the bill, then it’s “your” phone and “your” computer.
Striking that healthy balance about having your child enjoying personal freedom and enforcing your authority needs a lot of learning and adjusting – on both your sides.
Know their friends, know their social media friends and yes, check on their social media accounts too. Teach your child that freedom means responsibility and missing homework because of too much gaming has dire consequences.
Remember that grounding your kids is laying the groundwork for responsible adulthood.
At the end of the day, we are still accountable for our kids. Making smarter choices now means brighter and bigger opportunities later. You may end up playing the villain now, but remember that some of the best heroes were villains before. Think Snape, Iron Man, and Black Widow.