The back-to-school “to do” list can get stressful for both parents and children as the start of the school year quickly approaches. Between shopping, readjusting mindsets, registering for school, and squeezing some final moments of fun out of summer and more, parents can definitely get overwhelmed.
Here are 10 tips for parents to have a stress-free start to this school year.
- Start establishing new routine.: “Parents should work now to normalize as much as possible,” says family therapist Shawn Lockridge. “Parents may have been a little lenient during the summer on bedtime and screen time. It’s important that children who have been staying up late, especially on video games, are given time to get back into the structure of school years.”
- Check your vaccinations. With measles and other preventable diseases coming back, Lockridge encourages all parents to check with their health care provider, health department or school system on getting updated vaccinations. And don’t wait. “A lot of parents don’t think about vaccinations until right when school starts then they’re scrambling to try and get into the crowded doctor’s office,” Lockridge said. Common vaccinations include influenza, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), TDap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis whooping cough), meningitis and HPV (human papillomavirus).
- Get some sleep. Adequate sleep is essential to a successful school year. That involves shutting off electronic devices, keeping weekday and weekend routines consistent and potentially installing black-out curtains to keep the room dark. “Kids need about 10 hours of sleep a day, which is more sleep than people realize,” Lockridge said.
- Get to know your kids’ teachers. This one is self-explanatory but you’d be amazed at the number of parents who don’t bother. If you can’t make the orientations, make it your business to get up to the school during your child’s first week. Or at least connect via email.
- Be aware of the financial commitment. There’s nothing like getting your back-to-school shopping out of the way, only to discover your child needs $40 for a gym uniform, $30 for a lab fee, $10 for an ID, etc. Make sure you’re aware of all the expenses you will incur so you’ll be better prepared to tackle them.
- Be aware of extra-curricular activities.Find out what are the extracurricular programs you can sign up for. Talk with teachers and school officials. The last thing you want is your child to be set on being on the football team, only to discover tryouts were three weeks ago.
- Get wardrobes organized.Enjoy school-shopping with your child and involve them by giving them choices. That way you’ll avoid early morning fights over what to wear, especially if your children don’t wear uniforms. Organize your child’s clothes for the entire week. Pick every outfit out on Sunday afternoon and lay them out or hang them up for the week.
- Get a head start.Prepare yourself for early mornings and prepare what you can the night before. Being ready for a school morning is the best thing that you can do to get your family off to a great start. It makes a HUGE difference (and cuts back on stress and chaos for the mornings).
- Plan some family time.When all the busyness of school hits, it is nice to have some planned family time. Play a board game or take a trip to the park.
- Plan out menus. Start your child’s day out right with a great meal. Plan out some easy, healthy, after-school snacks to fill your kids just enough until dinnertime. Parents should always have fruits and vegetables that the children eat prepared, washed and ready to go. Pre-made sandwiches for afters-chool snacks or for in-between activities are a great way to stay out of fast-food drive-thrus.