- Update the school wardrobe. Sort and purge your kids’ clothes. Donate or toss what they’ve outgrown or worn out…or simply “won’t be caught dead in, Mom.” Then put together a shopping list. Make sure you check with the school about any clothing restrictions.
- Head to the doctor. Book your kids’ doctor, dental and eye appointments early in case it takes time to get in, or in case you need follow up visits for things like fillings or glasses. Also make sure your child is up to date on immunizations.
- Stock up on supplies. Ask the school for a list of required supplies. Mark off any leftovers from last year. Many stores start their back-to-school sales in mid-July, so shop early. My sister, a teacher, loves it when parents buy a few extra supplies to share with the whole class. Let’s face it, not everyone is as organized as you’re going to be! And, when teachers end up having to buy supplies for their students, it comes out of their pocket. And don’t forget to write your child’s name on stuff…especially backpacks.
- Mark your calendar. Invest in a wall calendar and start filling in dates. There’s the first day of school (as if you’d forget!), after-school activities, vacations, parent-teacher conferences, field trips, sports practices, etc. If you have more than one child, you can use different colored pens for each.
- Create a homework center. Pick a smart location. Will you be helping your child with homework? Does your child like to tackle it in peace and quiet? Once you’ve decided on the perfect place, put supplies in a nearby bin, cabinet or drawer. Think about what your child will need and make sure you get extras when you go shopping for school supplies.
- Tame the paper monster. In addition to homework, you’ll have lots of other papers to go through. Field trip permission slips, lunch menus, school functions, test dates. Make sure you go through your child’s backpack every night. While your child gets started on homework, you get started on yours. Fill out forms, add any dates to your family calendar, and then put the slip back in your child’s backpack so it gets to the teacher. Go through graded homework and artwork – keep what you want to hold onto in a memory box and toss the rest. Routinely go through your memory box and decide on the best pieces. Your child will accumulate A LOT of paperwork over the years, so you want to be selective in what you keep.
- Confirm child care. Will your child head straight home after school or take part in an after-school program? Will you need a babysitter or will your child head to a neighbor’s house to play? Set up your plan now for a less stressed you later.
- Check transportation. Will your child take the bus? Will you drive or walk them? Will you share carpool duty with neighbors? Mark the bus schedule on your calendar and do a dry run so your child feels comfortable on the first day. I remember always being a little bit anxious about being in the wrong place and missing the bus on my first day of school. And it’s a good idea to inform your child’s teacher of your plans. They can help make sure your kids get on the right bus.
- Make lunch plans. Whether your child will eat the school’s hot lunch or take a sack lunch, it’s a good idea to prepare a week at a time. Mark hot lunch days on the calendar and include packed lunch items on your weekly shopping list. If your child is going to eat hot lunches, check with the school on payment options. Some schools allow you to set up a bank that you can top off as needed.
- Adjust bedtimes. Let’s face it, kids stay up a bit later in the summer. To make easing back into school night bedtimes less stressful, roll back by 10-15 minutes a week until they’re on track for their new sleepy time. With a proper night’s sleep, your child will be alert and ready for each school day.
New clothes. Check.
Schools supplies. Check
A family plan in place. Check.