For some parents, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it is a sad, dreadful season. For kids everywhere, it is the end of the fun and the beginning of routine and homework.
It is, of course, back to school season.
As a mama of two, with only one currently in school (a big old fourth grader this year. Watch me as I weep!), I know the frustrations and stress that come with starting school again. After all, your little hethens, er, I mean angels, have been around all summer, lounging and feeling fancy free and now they are being forced out of that cozy freedom back into routines and structure. It sucks, for them.
Of course, maybe you are a teacher and a parent, so you’re the one who has been lounging fancy free right there with them all summer and now you’re being forced back into the doldrums of school.
In any case, it can be a stress filled time of year. What with the new clothes, new shoes, endless school supplies, new backpacks and lunch boxes, buying the food to put in that lunch box, finding their classroom, dealing with new schools, new classes, new teachers, bus pick-up and drop off times, going to bed early and waking up even earlier, it’s no wonder we feel the pains of the back to school season.
I’ve put together a few tips to keep you sane during this overwhelming time.
Shop only for the clothing necessities before school begins
Does your child need new shoes? Are they without even one pair of socks without a hole in them? Are their pants looking more like capris these days? Then by all means, get those necessities before the first day and supply them for a week or two. But after 5 years of shopping for “back to school” clothes, I can say without a doubt that doing it in the stores a week before school begins with the thousands of other moms and unwilling child participants is about as much fun as…well…shopping with unwilling child participants. The stores are crazy with moms and their kids trying to find an entire new wardrobe before the first day of school and honestly, who needs that stress. I recommend waiting a few weeks, then hitting up the sales that many stores have for the month after school begins. Your baby doesn’t need a closet full of new digs before school even begins.
Stock up on school supplies and go shopping in your own house
If you haven’t done this in the past, then I highly recommend you start this year. While the demand by teachers for specialized school supplies has gotten out of hand, many supplies are a staple that you’ll need no matter what. Rather than buy them at full price next year, stock up when the school supplies are highly marked down the few weeks after school is back in session. I get 5 cent folders and 15 cent boxes of crayons, not to mention marked down glue sticks, notebooks and scissors. Keep a large tote marked school supplies in a closet, office or basement and store your stash. The kids can replenish their supplies as the year goes on and you’ll have a head start for next year.
Let your child choose their own clothes
This is going to cause some controversy, but who doesn’t like that? I am a firm believer in letting children make choices from a young age, which enables them to make bigger choices as they get older. Letting them choose the clothes they wear is a great stepping stone. Even as young as 3, my son gets a choice as to what shorts he wants or what shirt he likes best. This is within reason, obviously, as the clothes need to fit into your budget, be age appropriate and safe. Within those boundaries, I say, let em go. Do you think those rainbow unicorn leggings are cute? Nope, but she does. I always ask myself, is the fight worth it? Is this a battle I feel like fighting, in a crowded girls section of Target, on a summer day when I would rather be anywhere else? No, it isn’t. Letting kids choose their clothes within the confines you have chosen not only helps them with decision making, but makes the whole process go a lot faster and smoother.
Start the new routine a few weeks early
No one likes to be thrust back in to a routine that they aren’t used to. If your child is used to sleeping in during the summer, slowly reintroduce the school sleep schedule a few weeks before the first day. Decide on a bedtime and a wake up time and get kids used to using an alarm clock if they aren’t already (this helps a lot with kids transitioning to middle or high school and getting up much earlier) Your "first week of school" self will thank you.
Do something fun right before school starts
No doubt, you have spent the summer doing fun, outdoorsy activities. Then again, maybe you haven’t. Maybe it has been a busy summer. Maybe even the fun activities, like camping, vacations or beach days were veiled in a bit of stress. Before the routine of school starts back up, do something fun. Truly fun. Ask your kids what they want to do. Have a water balloon fight, go mini golfing, fun through the sprinkler, go for a long bike ride, play with chalk, make up fun stories with them. It is true that as moms, we spend so much time doing the fun things we think our kids want to do and often not being as present as we should. I urge you to take a day right before the back-to-school drama unfolds and truly immerse yourself in fun with your children. You never look back in regret at the moments spent really enjoying your children.
How do you make back-to-school a little less stressful? Do you have your own tips? Maybe you’ve discovered which wine pairs best with this season. Let me know in the comments!