Back to school is here, and whether you are a newb or an old pro, it’s an annual rite of passage.
Back to School Memories
This coming of change is always met with mixed emotion for both kids and parents. While we love summer and want to squeeze every last bit of everything from sleeping in to swimming, moms are over the summer boredom and bickering and kids miss friends, both new and old, and everything school represents.
Each time I see the back to school displays set up in retail establishments, my mind wanders back to what I enjoyed from that time. From buying school supplies to studying Seventeen and Teen magazine for the latest styles we needed for back to school.
Now, as a mom, I’m looking for ways to make back to school easier for the kids as well as myself.
From avoiding late nights which result in cranky mornings to avoiding the last minute rush for getting a forgotten assignment done, we all need to figure out what works for us in our homes.
Beating Back to School Heat for Mom
Personally, my dread of the upcoming return to school was all about the heat!
Not sure what your temps are, but here, we’re hovering in the low 100’s.
I already feel like I’m melting and you want me to stand at the bus stop twice a day?!
I went on the search for back to school clothes for me in the hopes that I don’t melt waiting for that bus.
I was certain no one thought of mom in the way of cooling clothes, but no harm in looking, right?
I came across Tasc performance, who carries everything from dresses to sport bras.
I thought ‘why not? Let’s give it a try’ and ordered a dress, skirt, skirt bra and t- shirt.
I immediately put the dress (and the sport bra) to the test with an outdoor kid’s birthday party. What better way to test if it keeps cool than an outdoor party in this heat.
First, I loved the fit. Loose and not clingy. This seemed like the best start for staying cool.
In all honesty, I didn’t think it would work. But it did!
I stayed cool the whole party and looked pulled together. These will be great for the bus stop!
But those memories of school I mentioned, well there are more than those of the school supplies purchased and style trends researched. I tend to wander my mind over the way my mom and dad set me up for success through those years. While some of these seemed like small things, all of these great ideas touched my life in ways that were both big and small.
Making Back to School a Success
I sat down one day and thought about all of these small touches that guided me through those years to success. The full impact and influence I hadn’t realized nor appreciated until I’d thought back to then and how I could help make my children successful students.
With that, I’d come up with my plan for the coming school year and how I’d instill these same tactics. I’m sharing my hacks for a successful year.
Best Back to School Hacks
1. The Importance of Sleep
Get a sleep schedule started before the swing of back to school sets in. At least a week prior, establish a bedtime and get it started.
If your child has trouble getting or staying asleep, realize that there may be an issue and there may be an easy remedy such as a night light, noise machine, music or even a fan.
I have trouble getting asleep and staying asleep and what works for me is an eye mask and ear plugs.
Many parents think their lives are stressful and have a hard time remembering how stressful school is and relating.
School can be a stressful time from worrying about making friends to worrying about grades.
If simple remedies help them sleep, why not help them?
2. Establish a Night Routine
Our night routine will touch on a couple of areas to set us up for success.
First, set up a self- care night routine from brushing teeth to a bubble bath. This routine winds down the day and gets you ready for bed and sleep.
But even before you do the self- care routine that winds downs the day, set up what you need for the next day such as getting tomorrows outfit ready, knowing where your shoes are, have your backpack ready to go, lunch packed or breakfast set up.
Breakfast will help keep you full and satisfied so you can concentrate on education at school. It can be as simple as cold cereal but oatmeal or a full breakfast sticks with you longer.
My parents always let me have a couple snacks (I had healthy such as granola bar) so I could grab one on the way to the next class. It’s hard to concentrate when you’re overly hungry.
I have a station set up for grabbing approved backpack and after school snacks. We like Lance Mini’s (whole grain & peanut butter, peanut butter ToastChee) and Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars (strawberry, oatmeal crumble, blueberry, and original fig), Better Than Good Puffs, Crunchies (freeze dried fruit and veggies), and karma nuts. I also keep Tazo Tea in there. The girls love for mass to make it and pour over ice.
5. Establish a Morning Routine
Establishing a morning routine will help ensure nothing gets missed. From brushing teeth, to meds to a shower, start your morning routine before school starts to get into the routine.
6. Get in Learning Mode
One thing my parents did was to start having outings to museums and such in order to get me into learning mode. I’ve started this with my children as well.
7. Attend Open House
Always attend School Open House. This allows your child to see where their class is, meet the teacher and get familiar with their environment. We also take our extra supplies at this time so the kids don’t need to lug on the bus.
8. Homework First/ Learn to Prioritize
Establish a homework first mentality for after school. It’s so much easier to do it immediately instead of a mad scramble before bed. Once it’s complete, you can do all the other things you enjoy.
They also need to learn to prioritize. Prioritizing homework immediately for after school is an easy step but take that lesson further and teach them to start projects before they are due, working on them on the weekend or 15 minutes each night… whatever method works for them.
9. Set Goals
Before the school year starts, sit down together and think about what you’d like your goals to be for the school year. Don’t set them up for failure trying to get them to set a goal of straight A’s if they’ve never gotten A’s. Set attainable goals such as read a book a month, etc.
10. Efficient School Supplies
Ok, I get it… we all want to save money but there are just some areas we can’t do this. You cannot buy the cheap pencils or cheap crayons. Don’t do it. By now you should know they aren’t as effective.
A good backpack is also important. You not only don’t want it to fall apart because it was cheaply made and you want it to support and sit correctly on them with all of that weight. We opt for affordable, high quality backpacks that last well beyond the school year. You’ll spend less in the long run!
A great pencil box is important too. Your kids want cute but what we want is for it to last. We’ve found the perfect solution with these hard sided pencil cases.
11. Organization, Clutter, and Planners/ Homework Station
I’ve lumped this all under one since it’s all basically organization. Organization is important to speed up mornings and evenings, reduce stress for both parents and children. It’s always easier to find things when they are in their designated place.
This is something I help them with. Obviously, since many adults have issues with organization, it’s not something that usually comes easy for kids.
Since it is something I enjoy, I love helping them with ideas and effective remedies.
Planners will also help them keep their lives organized to remember activities, homework assignments, special projects, etc. I also love to teach them to have an area for writing ideas or a brain dump. This is where they can jot ideas for projects or reports. I often do it myself.
We also have a designated area for homework. This keeps all of those necessary items on hand and organized for homework completion. I grabbed this organizer that enables them to store school supplies and move to another location for sitting.
12. After School Program
If your child attends an after school program because you’re working, I think it’s good to stress the importance of getting their homework completed during this time. The after school program due to a working parent further limits their time at home for homework thus making it important to get it done at the program, if at all possible.
13. In-Box/ Keepsake Box
We have two stations set up. Once is an in-box for important papers that mom and dad need to see daily and sign.
The other station is a box for each child with their name on it that they put all graded homework assignments, artwork, etc. in for saving. At the end of the year I do scale it back to what we want to keep. Remember, we can’t keep it all.
14. Family Calendar
We have a large family calendar (this one) that all important activities, projects, etc. are listed so anyone can check to see what may conflict with a plan.
15. Screen Time/ Family Time/ Read/ Chill
Prior to school starting we establish rules for screen time, family time, chill time and reading time.
We think it’s important to set aside time for family time whether it’s dinner time or whatever works for you.
Equally important, we think chill time and reading time are essential. Chill and reading can be one and the same but we have established a non- screen time prior to bed for chilling out and de- stressing before bed. Non- screen time for us means absolutely no tv, no tablet, no game system, no phone etc.
16. Lunch Menu/ Lunch Station
Teach them to bring the lunch menu home so that you can sit down together and mark on the calendar days that will be a day they want to take a lunch from home.
Create a lunch station that allows making lunches with ease. Some people have their kids do it but I like to do this for them.
We keep a variety of things available in the station from Good Catch fish-free Tuna (the kids love it!) to bars and chips.
17. Water Bottles
Make sure your kids are hydrated by providing water bottles to fill and take to school.
18. School Attire
Often we don’t give school attire thought beyond what the kids like. Here in Florida, we are on school uniforms which takes some guesswork out.
However, I like to be sure the outfits are comfortable. Our Walmart just started carrying cooling attire that keeps them cooler and they are super soft and comfortable.
If your girls are wearing school uniforms as well, you want their shorts under their dresses and skirts to be comfortable as well. I get theirs from Sparkle Farms. They are super cute, durable and comfortable.
Also important are well fitting shoes. I don’t suggest sending kids to school in worn out, uncomfortable shoes. Sore feet will keep them distracted. We buy affordable, but high quality shoes from the same store that we trust, every year.
Bonus Tip: With the kids in and out, bringing friends over and all that comes with leaving doors open, etc, be sure to grab natural pest control. We use Earthkind. Not only does it work, it won’t poison your children or pets.
If these tips work for you, or even if I missed some, I’d love to hear from you!