“I need some photos for class,” said my 4th grader.
This wouldn’t have be a difficult request if he hadn’t made it five minutes before we were supposed to leave for school.
These are the types of scenarios that give parents the back-to-school blues. According to a recent survey, 44% of parents say they expect to get a headache during the back to school season. More than one-third of parents cite getting themselves (41%) and their children (43%) back on a schedule at the top of the list of things that might cause their headaches during the back to school season.
Here are a few tips that will help to you avoid headaches and build a routine that will make the daily demands of school more manageable for you and your family.
Prepare the week’s wardrobe on Sunday night
On Sunday evening, pick your kids’ outfits for the week (if they’re finicky, be sure to involve them), then iron and hang up these outfits in their closet. In the morning all they have to do is pick one. They have some control over what they wear and you have the peace of knowing that the outfits are all ready approved.
Make a school lunch plan
Many parents have stood in front of the open refrigerator wondering what to pack for their child’s lunch. As parents we want to make sure that the lunches are healthy and tasty. We also want to add some variety especially if we have picky eaters. Developing a lunch plan for the month helps to take some of the guess work out of lunch preparation. There are several sites such as Momables that will help you to plan and pack lunches that your kid will love.
Designate a time for homework and stick to it
I can count on two things when my boys get home: they’re starving and about to explode with energy. With so much seat-work required in school, my active boys are raring to go when they hit the door. So we have a routine: eat a snack, play for 30 minutes, then start homework. I tried requiring my oldest son to do his homework first, but it took twice as long for him to finish because after 7 hours of focusing, he was all focused out. If I wanted him to be effective, he needed a mental break. But he also needed to know, exactly when I expected him to start and finish his work.
Select a spot in the house to store school gear
We used to waste quite a bit of time in the morning searching for shoes, backpacks, library books and jackets. To remedy this problem, I had a handyman build a “mud” cabinet in our kitchen to store their school items. With our new cabinet, the kids know exactly where everything is supposed to go. If you don’t have a mudroom, color-coded crates or a designated spot in your house work just as well.
Make a family calendar
If you have more than one adult in the house – and certainly more than one kid – having a calendar to keep track of everyone’s schedules is a necessity. I discovered last year when my kids were enrolled in three different schools and involved in after school activities just how important writing down conferences, practices and due dates for various sign ups was. While it’s good to use electronic calendar (I like Cozi), you should also keep a hard copy somewhere where the entire family can see what’s on tap.
The reality is there are some scenarios that even the best plans cannot address. However, if you take care of the basics when the unexpected does happen – and it will – you have the time to find those pictures in less than five minutes.
Join the convesation: How do you avoid back to school headaches?
Disclosure: I am a paid Excedrin ambassador.