If you’re anything like me, you resist the coming of fall as long as possible and reminders of the impending changing season drive you bananas (I’m looking at you fall-winter catalogues that arrive in July!). However, I’ve come to learn that I just can’t ignore one certainty that comes with the beginning of September; back-to-school.
The start of classes brings a need for structure that just doesn’t come with summer and I’ve learned if I’m not prepared, I’m going to be in trouble. It really is best to face the challenge head on – and early – to ensure that the entire family starts the year on the right foot. With seven years of “new school year” now under my belt as a parent, I’ve learned a few tips.
7 ways to get your family ready for back-to-school
- Reset internal clocks. Many families switch to a more relaxed schedule in the summer, with later bedtimes and later wake-up hours. While you’ll want to make the most of your final days of summer, not adjusting your kid’s body schedule in advance, will lead to a rough (and grumpy) first week. Start one or two weeks before the first day of school (depending how off-schedule you’ve gotten), and gradually re-introduce your school-year bedtime and wake-up times by getting everyone tucked-in 15 minutes earlier each night, and setting the alarm 15 minutes ahead until you’ve adjusted to the school-year routine.
- Review road safety rules. It always takes a few weeks for drivers to re-adjust to the increased traffic (including pedestrians and cyclists) that comes with back-to-school, which may result in increased dangers on our roads. Remind your kids (and yourself as a driver) to be on alert, to follow the rules of the road, and to plan ahead to ensure you’re not too rushed. Find more back-to-school road safety tips and advice here.
- Plan your route. One of the biggest stressors at the start of a school year is the uncertainty of where you’re going and the fear of being late (in fact, getting lost is a common nightmare scenario for me). This is especially true if your child will be attending a new school this year, or even if your child is just moving to another building or classroom. Try a practice run in advance to ensure everyone knows where they are going and how long it takes to get there.
- Get organized. A new school year brings new commitments and you can soon feel overwhelmed trying to keep dates and times for music lessons, sport practices, field trips, and project deadlines straight! Nothing calms school year chaos like a central calendar that everyone can access to see what’s coming up. Last year I created an online calendar so we could access it when out of the house (though I also printed it and posted on the fridge). Just be sure to not overschedule yourselves. Too many activities can cause overload on the entire family, and can take away from important family down time.
- Set up a workspace. Clear off your desk and get it ready for some big thinking! Half the battle is mental and if you have a workspace ready everyone will be more excited about learning and doing homework (at least for the first week).
- Go shopping… but don’t overdo it. As September approaches, the stores will become increasingly crowded (back-to-school has traditionally been the second-biggest shopping season of the year), and selection will quickly become picked-over. You might want to get essential supplies well in advance to avoid disappointment. That might include a new back-pack, a few pencils, a sharpener and eraser, and of course a few new clothing items so the student looks sharp for their new teacher. But I have learned not to buy too much in advance, as I often get a list of required supplies from the teacher during the first week of school, so I don’t want to waste extra time or money on unlisted items.
- Plan a few dinners in advance. If you know your menu and do your grocery shopping for the week in advance it takes away half the stress of feeding your family. If you are really ambitious, you could even prepare a few meals and freeze them so they are ready to be pulled out on those nights where you have a lot going on.
Do you have any tried and true tactics to help you prepare for back-to-school? Please share with us in the comments below, or on our Facebook Page.