As every parent knows, the back-to-school days are half stress, half relief. While is seems simple to just press play and put them on the bus, there is obviously a lot more to it (especially for a mother of 4)—50 forms, school supplies, extra clothes, volunteering obligations, committees, packing lunches everyday, school lunch menus, water bottle decisions, and the list goes on. Here are a few simple tricks to keep your head above water (or at least a few hairs, if you have multiple kids like I do).
Have an organizational area—You can think of this as similar to an automobile manufacturing assembly line. Think MERCEDES BRAND QUALITY CONTROL (lowest recall rate in the business)! Pick a large table or counter top surface and empty the backpack right after school; no one wants to rinse out a stinky lunch at 8:00 pm. Toss old food, rinse water bottles, and clean the lunch box immediately. Lay out all your kids’ important papers on the counter and toss any that are extraneous. Then, quickly put important dates in your digital calendar. Put homework on the kitchen table so that your child reviews it quickly, even if it needs to be completed later in the day. Keep crayons and pencils on hand in case your child wants to start his/her homework while you prepare dinner, etc. If order forms are in the mix, try to complete those and place back in the backpack a.s.a.p.
READ MORE: Working Surgeon Mom’s Organizational Tips
Consistency—This seems obvious, but children respond to consistency and patterns. Try to keep wake-up and bedtime the same even on the weekends. If possible, keep pick-ups and drop-offs around the same time and location. One example: I typically drop my children off around 7:50 am, but there are days they could go in later. It’s helpful to them to keep that 6:45 am wake-up, hang out in their rooms, make beds, get dressed, brush teeth, and eat breakfast routinely every day. Also, make them aware of patterns during the week—“Mondays you have lacrosse”, “Tuesdays you have tae kwon do”, “Fridays you order pizza for lunch.” It is nice for children to have a calendar that they can see as well. A large white board can do the trick so they see the daily routine as well as hear it.
Notes for each backpack—My OCD is kicking-in. To help stay organized, an index card can be placed in each school and sports backpack so that easily you know what to pack. A school backpack may have an index card with: lunch, water bottle, school folder, peanut-free snack, and notebook. A sports bag may have an index card with: jersey, shin guards, soccer ball, cleats, and water bottle. It seems simple, but if you are in a rush (which we so often are), you don’t have to think as much.
Artwork—“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”~Pablo Picasso
If you have younger children, you know the guilt of saving every piece of glitter, felt, googly eyes, yarn, and construction paper that your child brings home. It is heart-warming and sometimes surprising when my children describe their project from school. Sometimes it opens up a larger conversation too, as opposed to the “nothing” response when asked what they did in school, but, when the thrill is gone, what do you do with all of those projects? ALEX Toys makes art folders where you can keep a whole years worth of art in one 15 x 19 inch case. Also, if you want to bring some artwork to show the grandparents, it is perfect for travel too.
Here’s to a great school year. “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”~Chinese Proverb
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