Can you believe it's already THAT time of year again?! Are all you parents COMPLETELY ready? I never was. There was always that PANIC moment of forgetting who needed what, when everything was happening and feeling upset with myself that YET AGAIN I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to be. Being the "hind sight is 20/20" person that I am, I was inspired by a list that might help SOMEONE out there be a bit more ready at home than I was. You are welcome!
Clean Up That Closet - This is something that is best done a couple of weeks before schools starts, but let's be real-- If you get this done BEFORE they go back to school for their first FULL week, you are doing great! It's something that will help you know what you need (and what you don't - make a list as you go through the closet) for the upcoming school year. It will also make room for new additions if you need any and may save you some money. We all WANT our kids to have great new clothes before school starts, but, since our kids usually went back when it was still 90 degrees outside, new, stiff clothes weren't really the most comfortable for them to start out in anyway. Sometimes its better to wait and see what they will really need.
Start A Few Days Early - Before they have to completely change their schedules, start small, ahead of time. Maybe bedtime is a little earlier a couple of weeks before and late night projects STOP by 6pm so everyone can start settling down earlier. Also, start making the weekends for running and weeknights for home stuff. HOPEFULLY this will help when they need to get into the routine of homework. Maybe organize a nice space in their rooms or in a living space that will be ready for when they need to concentrate on school things. It's also good for you and your partner to start settling in earlier as well. When school starts back up you will be on the GO all the time and you will WISH you had more down time!
Just Say NO - This was a hard one when it was a new school year for me--although my kids would say that is all I ever said! A new school year is always full of promise. This is the year your child will meet their full potential! You want them to have EVERYTHING they need and all sorts of special things as well. However, there is so much stuff out there that is unnecessary and distracting for you kids. It's okay to say NO to certain school supplies they just "have to have" (not THE LIST stuff, you know the extras everyone always wants) and NO to certain items of clothing. It's also ok to say NO to making promises you won't be able to keep or say NO to trying to fit everything in before school begins. For me, every time I had to say it, it nearly broke my heart. I felt like I would ruin their school year--well almost. It just gave me a ton of guilt. But a well, thought out plan of action is always better. When they are actually going to school, they will know more of what they truly need and even want. Also, even if the Back-to-School sales are over by then, you won't spend a bunch on stuff you don't need just because it was cheap--so you can afford to get that one thing they really do need or want. Trust me. It took me a while to learn this one...about when my grandchildren were starting school!
Plan Meals - No matter what...even if it is eating out or planning cold cereal some/most days a week, PLAN IT OUT. If you know your kids will be eating hot lunches at school, budget the money ahead of time. BE READY EVERY WEEK. Or if they are taking lunches, put it on a calendar what day is what. My daughter did this with a mix of school lunch and taking lunch so she knew what days her son would eat at school and what days she needed to prep that evening for him for his lunch. Evening meals are also easier to handle when you plan ahead--including the days you will get something out because of an activity. Breakfast can be more flexible. Have easy choices or if you want them to eat a home cooked breakfast, then be up early and plan ahead...but, kids can be moody and wrestling with them first thing over food can be draining so just make sure they eat SOMETHING that will hopefully last a bit in their tummies. Save the big battles for later.
At Least One Special Tradition - Have one thing that you ALWAYS do the first day of school. Maybe a special breakfast the first day? For us, it was a picture of the kids--and then usually of me cheering--that we did every year. These pictures bring such good memories--even if the kids were nervous about starting a new school year and were actually not in the best mood on that day. They always look back with fondness when they see those pictures, and parents, you will see how much your kids have grown and changed in a year.
Don't Freak Out - What do I mean? Every year some teacher, or parent or school list of some sort brings anxiety about what is expected of your child during the school year or of you as a parent. It can not only be overwhelming to your kids, but to you as a parent. It seems a ton of information comes at you all at once and you wonder "is this the year everyone sees how NOT TOGETHER we all are and we don't make any deadlines"? Always think back on the year before and how you not only survived it, but thrived. How stressed you were the first week of school finding a new routine...and how by the end of the first month your schedule was running like clockwork--or at least you didn't have the anxiety freaking you out anymore! Sometimes just a deep breath and a good reminder pushes you on.
As you push your little ones (and bigger ones) on to yet another school year full of possibilities, remember, summer will be here again before you know it and you will be stressing about them all being home all the time all over again! It's all a process, people! Enjoy it--it doesn't last forever...--Jen Lush