Hello mamas and papas. The whole prospect of getting kids back to school leaves most every mom (and many dads) stressed to a breaking point. Having now done this approximately 12 years in row, if you count preschool, I’ve learned a few things about ways to reduce stress in my household. These tips don’t completely cure the problem, and I still am a frantic person the week leading up to school, but they do help ease the pain.
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How Not to Stress regarding Back to School
- Front load every possible responsibility you can when it comes to getting your kids ready for the fall. Buy uniforms and school supplies in June. Sign your kids up for activities like piano, gymnastics or art as soon as registration opens. Things may shift somewhat, and you might have to change a day here or there, but you’ll be better off getting your “fall template” in place early on and adjusting small things versus starting from scratch in late August.
- Schedule doctor, dentist and other appointments in the spring for the summer. That way, you aren’t adding complexity to your fall weekday schedule. Better yet, if your child sees his dentist every six months, schedule the appointment for six months down the line when you leave the prior one. Otherwise, if you’re distracted like me, you’ll forget.
- The second you receive emails with school events, practice or game times, or rehearsals or concerts, enter those events in detail into your calendar, and check that you have them their correctly. Case in point, I just entered the info for my son Lachlan’s confirmation on May 11 including location and time. I’ve learned from my mistakes since in the past I would be constantly running somewhere searching for the email with all the information. Some experts on time-management advise waiting to tackle emails in chunks, but that doesn’t jive with me. The chunk of time never surfaces and I forget about prior emails that I haven’t either answered or input.
- Forgive yourself. A parenting expert I love, Julie Ross, advises that we parents follow a 70% rule. If you get parenting right 70% of the time, you are doing well. This percentage is liberating because it allows you to forgive yourself when you mess up and move on. Case in point: I missed one email last week, and sent my son to soccer practice on the wrong day. In the past, this would have really bothered me but now, I cough it up to a percentage error rate. Each one of us parents has a percentage error rate — just like hitters in baseball have batting averages (yours is likely lower than mine), and you just have to live with it.
- Get your kids into the back to school groove beginning one week before. If, like us, your kids were on a summer routine and going to bed and waking up late, that early morning wake up on the first day of school is going to hit your family hard. Try easing back into it by moving up bedtimes and wake times starting a week before. The night before school, eat dinner early and then get those chickens to bed! I would also try to cut down on the games, phones and media one week before. This is a good time to get your kids reading and in an academic frame of mind.
With the first day of school under my belt, I feel calmer. There’s still a lot to do every day, but I know I can handle it — not perfectly well, but well enough.
P.S. Here’s the lineup: Lachlan — 12 (7th grade), Annaliese — 8 (3rd grade), Marielle — 6 (1st grade), Beckett 10 — 5th grade, and Hedley — 13 (8th grade).
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