Summer has a way of feeling both endless and much too short at the same time. Sadly, the clock is now officially ticking on the season of non-stop fun. With back to school on the horizon, here are 10 things you can do to get ready for the new school year. If you spread these tasks over the next week or two, you’ll ease right into your next phase...maybe a little more organized than last year.
Get Your Medical Ducks in a Row
Does your child require medication at school? Mine needs an epipen, an inhaler and Benadryl in case of allergic reactions. More than likely one of not all of these will have expired, and the school will require up to date meds, and the up-to-date paperwork to go with it. Now is the time to request those critical prescriptions from your doctors — before the school nurse starts calling. While you’re at it, make some appointments for annual checkups, flu shots, and sports physicals. Make one for yourself too.
Clean Out the Closets
Go into each kids closet and pull out the stuff that doesn’t fit anymore. Have a trash bag in hand and when it’s full - put it in the car for your next charity run. If saving for other siblings or cousins, use a box. Label it with gender and age and tuck it away. Next, find a nice sized box to fit in your child’s closet. Use this to toss items there that the child grows out of throughout the year. Try not to get caught up with the aggressive marketing for back to school shopping…take this opportunity to assess what you really need, and plan to just get what you need.
Just like with the clothes shopping - take a minute to review last year’s school supplies. For sure many of them didn’t survive the year, and I enjoy the fresh supplies as much as the next gal. But before you go out and spend big bucks on new items, see what you got. Bet you can cobble together a full set of colored pencils and barely used composition books. When you do go shopping - look at Target, Walmart and your local Dollar stores to save a little dough on the basics like spiral notebooks.
Summer Assignments Check-In
You may be fully aware that your child had to read three books this summer ,write them down, and watch three hours of French videos over the summer. But if by chance you really weren’t paying attention when that info came out in June, there’s still time for your kid to get it done. Or you could let this be a teachable moment about responsibility. I’m totally cool with that too.
The first few weeks of school, combined with sports and extracurriculars can be stressful on cooking. A little planning in advance can make this time a bit easier. One way to create a meal plan is to make a list of all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you make regularly. Ask each family member to pick their favorites for each meal and plan a week or twos worth of meals. During the year, you can do this once a week or even once a month if you’re feeling ambitious. Real Simple has a helpful section on meal planning here. Want new ideas? I’m a big fan of the subscription service No More To Go* . Stacey’s recipes are delicious and not too difficult. The weekly shopping list her menus generate makes it easy to shop with intention. I've learned a lot of new foods & techniques. It's got a free two week trial before you commit to a monthly subscription.
Sync Up Your Calendars
Whether you use a digital calendar or paper calendar or both, take some time now to gather your school, sports, and personal calendars and get them in sync. Put all the school vacations on now so you can see them when the time comes. Using Google Calendar, or any with iCal format, I subscribe to my kids teams and schools and have one one main calendar for the whole family.
Make a Family Command Center
I live by my electronic calendar, but I use it to fill my paper family calendar. It’s a big calendar by the back door that keeps the family up to speed on everyone’s schedule for the week, and the big picture view of the month. The process of filling this in each week really helps me get my head on straight about logistics needed for the week. You don’t need a fancy system for this - just something you’ll use and everyone can see easily.
Examine Your Plastic
Our environment is being devastated by single-use plastics - baggies, water bottles, straws, wraps. With school lunch prep coming - consider making this year the year you pack with reusable plastic. There are so many different types of containers made now that make it easy. Yes, your top rack will be a little more busy, but the oceans will thank you. I’ve used these bento-style boxes for years: EASY LUNCHBOX - only one container to clean. Also check on your water bottles - I’m fond of the Contigo brands for their seal, straws, and ease of cleaning.
I know, over the summer you’ve been lax with screen time and reading and chores. It’s ok, you’re forgiven. The start of a new school year gives you the opportunity to reconsider some family rules. The kids are already dealing with new rules and routines at school, so they are primed to accept them. Just like that new teacher, you can do that too. Want to limit Fortnite to weekends only? Make that this year’s rule. Add new chores for older kids. Institute screen free dinner. Require daily reading/writing/piano practice. Think of your ideal and see if you can get some of it to stick this year. Common Sense Media has lots of thoughtfully researched and discussed topics from screen time, social media, cyberbullying and more, in addition to parent focused reviews of movies, books, video games and apps.
I don’t know about you, but the end of summer is stressful for me. Many of us are kind of over the freedom. I miss the routines, the kids miss their friends. I’m not ashamed to say that a feeling of relief washes over me when those backpacks walk away. Plan now to do something for yourself so you can reset too. Can you find a spa day, a lunch or dinner with friends, a day to do no cooking or cleaning for anyone. Taking care of you, makes you better parent for them.
Enjoy those fleeting days of summer - and check off some of these items so the first weeks of school aren’t full of instant stress.
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