Stocking up on new school supplies may be top-of-mind when August rolls around, but the back-to-school season can also be a chance for families to get organized for the year and review routines. Save time and avoid extra stress once school is back in session by adding these items to your back-to-school to-do list.
Rethink Family Roles
It’s easy for parents to fall into familiar roles — mom makes lunches, dad helps with homework, mom has school pick-up and drop-off duty, dad shuttles the kids to and from extracurricular activities. But the end of summer is a great time for families to rethink who manages responsibilities and how. Busy families may want to consider sharing tasks with a favorite sitter as one way to better manage a busy year and a long to-do list. Take time to talk through the possibilities.
Review the Family Calendar
For working parents, school can mean an endless amount of scheduling headaches. Early dismissals, days off, special events, PTA meetings, and parent conferences all fight for space on your already full plate. Planning is key. Before school begins, sit down with your family’s planner or Google calendar, and update the next nine months with important school dates. Determine how work schedules, business travel or family vacations will fit together. Need to ask for days off at work? The sooner the better, especially around holidays. Don’t forget about unexpected sick days, too. Build a team of sitters you can reach out to for child care coverage and last-minute babysitting needs.
Command Center Setup
Forms, class schedules, homework, flyers — paper tends to pile up when school is in session. Pick a spot in your home that can be a command center for your family. Keep important phone numbers, an inbox and outbox, the family calendar, your sitter list, hot lunch menus, and other important items in this area so you can manage the influx of paper and easily find important documents.
Closet Clean Out
Before you hit the mall (or the internet) for back-to-school shopping, spend some time during the last lazy days of summer to go through your child’s clothing, outerwear and shoes. Donate clothing that no longer fits and is in good condition. Toss items that are past their prime. Then, decide what your child needs for the next three months. Once you’re done with clothing, move on to school supplies: Are backpacks and lunch boxes in good shape? There’s no reason to buy new every year if it’s not needed.
Early morning wake-ups and regular bedtimes tend to go out the window the minute summertime hits. Don’t wait until the night before the first day of school to reboot your child’s routine. If you’re struggling to get kids back on board with bedtime, try pushing lights out 10-15 minutes earlier every few nights until your child is going to bed at a reasonable hour. How much sleep does your child need? Preschoolers and kindergarteners need 10-13 hours of sleep, and elementary school-aged children need 9-12. Remember: Getting enough sleep is critical to your child’s behavior and performance in school, and it will make your mornings go much more smoothly.
Check-up and Check In
Whether your child is just starting preschool or about to head off to high school, it’s important to schedule an appointment with the pediatrician for a back-to-school visit. At the check-up, your child’s doctor will check out general health, update vaccinations that protect against dangerous childhood diseases, measure growth and fill out any medical forms required by the school. In addition to bringing up health issues your child may be experiencing, this is a good time to talk about issues like behavioral problems, questions about readiness for sports, and concerns about physical, emotional or social development. Pediatricians can provide advice and guidance as well as referrals.
Ready, Set, School!
Finding routines that work for you and your family is key to getting organized for the school year and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself some time to prepare before school begins. Less stress for the parents will mean less stress for kids too.