My dread for September starts in early August, right around when the back-to-school ads start cropping up. It's not just that I'm already mourning the near end of summer, it's that I'm loathing the madness of getting the kids geared up.
The trouble, I've realized, is that I'm typically in denial right up to bedtime on the Monday of Labor Day. And then, reality (and panic) hits. OMG, school! OMG, forms! OMG, supplies, clothes, backpacks! This year, though, I'm trying some new strategies to spare myself the back-to-school stress.
1. Start routines earlier -- This idea comes from a Facebook friend, who eases her child back into a routine two weeks ahead of school, including wake-up time and bedtime. She also has him do some pages from workbooks to get him in the homework flow.
2. Forget about the clothes ... just forget -- Every year, some deluded part of me is convinced that the kids absolutely need their fall and winter wardrobes by the time they head back to school. Truth is, the weather's still summery for most of September, and there's no need to put that pressure on myself. So I've taken a no-clothes-shopping-until-October vow. And, really, would it be so awful if they wear their too-small clothes from last year for a few weeks? Nope.
3. Order supplies the no-brainer way -- I'm lucky; my son's school doesn't require many supplies, and for my daughter, I can just order a box of the stuff teachers chose through our school's PTA. They do Staples' SchoolKidz program, fundraising in the process. If your school doesn't have this, suggest it for next year. Amazon recently started Amazon School Lists, a new way for teachers to create and share links with parents.
4. Do a backpack swap -- I'm going to be organizing this with moms in the neighborhood. Kids inevitably want new backpacks at the start of the school year, even though their old ones are in perfectly good shape. Doing a swap seems like a win win.
5. Organize the kids' mornings -- I'm stealing this idea from my friend Lyla, who wrote out a cute "Giselle's Morning List" and tacked it to her daughter's bedroom wall to help keep her on track in the a.m. Giselle knows that she won't get breakfast until she goes to the bathroom, gets dressed, and brushes her teeth.
6. Make food prep a lot easier -- For the month of September, I'm planning to pick up a lot of prepared foods at the supermarket and take-out. It's not indulgence -- it's survival. Not having to rush home from work at the end of the day and deal with meal prep on top of everything else that's going on will make the month more manageable.
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7. Plan a little getaway -- Having an outing our family can look forward to at the start of the school year sure will make it easier to endure both the end of summer vacation and school insanity. I've planned a day trip to a farm for the second Sunday in September. On second thought, maybe I should plan a day trip to a spa? (In my dreams.)
8. Get some perspective -- Consider that soon, you will no longer hear "Mommy, I'm bored!" at 8 a.m. Which may be the very best sanity saver of all.
What are your best tips for going to back to school?
Images via © iStock.com/Andrejs Zemdega; Ellen Seidman