Let’s make back to school better for everyone. I don’t know where you are with this, but I remember counting down the days until the kids went back to school. When summer begins, you’re so excited for the freedom, having no structure, to stay up late!
By the end of summer, we’re begging for routine, structure, and early bedtimes (for mom too!)
So, you’re ready for structure, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re feeling as ready as we are to get back into their classrooms and back to school.
Back to school can come with a lot of emotion and who can blame any kiddo for that — there is so much new! It can feel stressful and nerve-wracking and all the feelings both for parents and for the students. So today is all about making the back-to-school process better all the way around.
I want to share some of my tried and true tricks that I use to help with the back to school craziness. I’m talking the emotional and the tactical parts of it.
CLEAN OUT THEIR ROOMS
Let’s begin with two to four weeks before school starts. First, have everyone do a clean-out of their room. It feels so good to just start fresh. This is a great time to clean out the rooms, give them boxes for donations, get those things out from under the bed, out from the closet — all the places — so that they can start fresh and just feeling really good.
My oldest daughter’s room
Her bookshelf and hanging chair for reading.
From Luke and Jasmin via homestolove.com
We all feel better in a clean, organized space. If you have younger kids, this is gonna mean you get to probably sit in there and help them, but I would encourage you to allow them to try to do some of it on their own. If their room is really bad, break it off into sections and suggest that they just work on one quadrant at a time because when they’re looking at the whole thing, understandably, it can feel really, really overwhelming.
MAKE FREEZER MEALS
These are the exact freezer meals that we are making at our house for back to school. I actually am paying my daughter to make them. And so are three of my friends. We are paying her to do the grocery shopping, to make them, prep them, and then give them to us.
You guys know I love outsourcing and that’s how I’m outsourcing my freezer meals. Getting a few freezer meals set up, even if it’s just a couple, is going to feel so good as you’re trying to transition into school knowing that you have those.
DOWNLOAD THE SCHOOL CALENDAR
Download the school calendar and add the important dates into your family calendar. I love to also make sure that as I’m prepping my work calendar, that I’m really, really aware that for that first week, I want to be extra available for my kids. So I am going to be very limited in my availability when they get off school, actually just not available to anyone but my kids.
BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING
For clothes, I would suggest just doing a tiny bit, just a few things that they need, and then you can always do more school shopping later. I say this because I used to buy a ton of clothes at the beginning of the year, and then they start to look crummy after a few months. So I switched it and I just bought smaller amounts, and then I would do more shopping throughout the year.
DESIGN YOUR ZONES
Can you create a quiet zone for studying and homework? Do you need a communications or paper zone for handouts and teacher communication? Maybe a mom zone for when you just need a minute that’s not the bathroom! (A mom can hope, right?)
START LIMITING SCREEN TIME
This is one that I really, really think is gonna hurt. It’s gonna be painful. We all know, you can imagine it right now. You’re like, “oh, that one’s gonna hurt,” but it really is important to start weaning them off the screen time.
If you’re like me, it’s been a little heavy throughout summer and encouraging them to read is so helpful. And in the spirit of full disclosure, we absolutely bribed our kids to read. And I have no guilt about that because it totally worked.
MAKE YOUR LUNCH GAME PLAN
Do you know how you are handling lunch this year? Are they just buying lunch? Perfect. That’s super easy, but if you’re gonna be making lunches, then make that plan. Get an idea of what they’d like. Start getting some ideas for yourself about what you could make. If you’re going to be dropping in little notes, go buy those or find little notes that you can print early and just quickly drop them in your kiddos lunches.
HAVE A GOAL SETTING SESSION
This idea is one I’m really, really excited about. And if you haven’t thought of it, I hope you will. I wish I would’ve thought of this years and years earlier than I did, but sit down with each one of your kiddos for a little goal setting session. Sit down with them and ask them some questions. What would they like to accomplish this year?
We really like to encourage our kids to set one goal in each category. So they set a physical goal, a social goal, a spiritual goal, and an intellectual goal. This is so powerful in helping us realize what they’re nervous about, how they’re feeling, what they’re excited about, what they’re considering trying.
MEET TEACHERS/TOUR THE SCHOOL
This is helpful especially for kids who are more anxious or nervous, which, who isn’t when it comes to something totally new like that. How can you help them feel more comfortable? I always think if I’m familiar with the space, with the people, with what’s expected of me, it really, really helps calm my own nerves. So maybe that means going on a tour of the school if it’s new for your child or going and seeing the classroom. If they’re navigating something new, like a locker, go and work on that locker combination with them.
TAKE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PICTURE EARLY
Yes, I am suggesting it does not have to be the actual morning of. There is enough going on on the morning of school, trying to make sure you have enough time and trying to keep them happy and not feeling stressed as you’re trying to get the most adorable post or picture, it’s really not conducive for a great first day.
So why don’t we just take that first-day picture a week early? No one has to know. The morning of the first day has enough going on without trying to get that cute pic too.
PLAN SOMETHING FUN FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
I also love to plan something fun for the first day of school. So make sure that that week before you grab what you need. I always grabbed our favorite treats from a local bakery to be waiting when they got home on their first day. That was kind of just a little tradition we had. And then I’d usually do a special dinner for the first day of school. So think about what fun things you want to have for that first day, just to give them something, to get really excited about and look forward to when they come home.
BACK TO A BEDTIME ROUTINE
One of my followers suggested getting back into that school nighttime routine in increments of 15 minutes. I really, really love that. In fact, that’s exactly what I personally do when I’m trying to get back into my morning routine if I’ve gotten off. I would do 15 minute increments until I got myself to when I really wanted to be waking up and we can do the same thing with our kids. If they’ve been allowed to stay up pretty late, this is a great opportunity to just start 15 minute increments, getting them to a more reasonable bedtime that will make it so that they have a better day at school.
GO OVER EXPECTATIONS
This just helps everybody to know what is expected, what’s going to happen. It’ll help them feel more confident and you feel like you aren’t going over everything a hundred times.
When do they do homework? Is it right when they get home? Do they need a little bit of time to just decompress first? Is it maybe after dinner? When is screen time allowed? What time do they need to go to bed at night? What are the rules for hanging out with friends on a school night? Where should they put papers and handouts for you to find?
Based on your kids’ ages and where your kids are right now, go over expectations. What can they expect from you, what you are expecting from them? It’ll help everybody to feel more calm and confident.
DO SOMETHING JUST FOR YOU
I really am gonna encourage you. I’m giving you permission. You don’t need it, but if you feel like you need it, this is it to do something just for you. When my kids were little, when they were in elementary school, I used to organize this mom lunch on the first day to celebrate. It would be like our celebration lunch that they’re all back to school and it was so much fun and it felt so good.
Whatever it is, whatever is gonna make you feel great… Do something just for you. You did it. You got them to school. You deserve a little something.
START A TRADITION OF QUESTIONS
Ask them something every day that helps them to see and be the good. Years and years ago, I started asking my kids these different questions. And ultimately there was one that stood out. On their way to school, I would challenge them to make someone’s day better that day. And so after school, I’d ask whose day they brightened and how they did it.
On the way out the door, I’d say “Remember to make somebody feel good today. Look for who needs a little extra something.” Then after school I would ask them, whose day did you brighten? What did you do? And it was just really fun getting to hear their answers.
There you go. I hope that you’ll be able to take at least a few of these to make back to school even better. To balance that busy and just have more bliss. If you have a friend, a BFF, a sister, fellow caregiver, parent human, that loves kids and you think this episode would help them, please share it with them. Or maybe you’re a teacher and you would love to share this with the caregivers of your students. Please do!
Please, please share it.