POSTS WITH TAG: back to school

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    Parents of twins face a tough question at the beginning of school: Would their kids be better off in separate classrooms or together? "In the past, most schools automatically separated twins," says Susan Lipkins, PhD, a child psychologist at But lately many schools have loosened those policies and are allowing parents to decide what to do. Even so, many moms may still wonder what's best.

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    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.

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    Even if you consider yourself to be a highly organized person, it's way too easy these days to fill your schedule with so many different appointments and activities that you can barely keep track of them anymore. And especially as the kids head back to school, it's like our daily routines go from having nothing at all to do to having so much on our plates that it's impossible to keep anything straight. Oftentimes you might not even realize you've totally overscheduled yourself until it's way too late. Sound familiar?

    On that note, here are 12 signs that you've probably scheduled way more than you can handle while trying to be the best parent you possibly can be.

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    Few days of the year are more momentous for a kid (or their parents!) than the first day back to school. Yet for many moms and dads, this pivotal day can and will go completely wrong -- at least according to a recent poll we did asking for parents' most mortifying back-to-school stories.

    So if your own first day doesn't go quite as well as planned, read these stories, and rest assured, it could have been way worse.

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    The instant I set foot in my daughter's school, WHAM! I was overwhelmed by the scent of Eau de School. It's a heady blend that brings back memories of cafeteria lunches, sweaty locker rooms, musty textbooks, and more. School scents can be powerful memory triggers, so don't be surprised if the smells in your child's school send you on a powerful nostalgia trip. Here are a few to keep an eye (or rather nose) out for this fall.

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    Back to school season is stressful enough. But when your kid is ready to start middle school, you can take that stress and dial it up to 11. But while it's true that the social and academic challenges -- often stemming from that awkward transition to adolescence -- that arise in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade can be doozies for kids and parents alike, it doesn't have to be something to bite our nails over!

    "Most moms will say they're dreading middle school for their kid," notes Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. "But that nervousness and the language that parents are using around their kids about middle school creates a self-fulfilling prophecy."

    Don't get caught up in the vicious cycle -- here's what you need to do now to be ready to tackle some of the biggest bumps in the road your child may face in the hallways over the next few years:

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    Sigh. When it comes to going to school, it's pretty safe to say that things are quite different for our children than when we were kids. From peanut-free tables in the lunch room to cupcake-free birthday celebrations, kids today definitely have a much more sensitive classroom environment, though some schools take things to the extreme a bit more than others.

    And while banning foods due to the high number of children with food allergies makes total sense, sometimes it seems like we're getting a little too carried away with what is and is not allowed.

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    Have you noticed that the back to school supplies have already started showing up in various stores? There's something about seeing all those adorable pencil cases and stylish lunchboxes that makes me feel squirmy, maybe even a little guilty. See, I feel like I SHOULD be the sort of mom who shops early so as to ensure my kids have the best deals and most comprehensive selection of backpacks that hopefully won't detonate three months into the school year, but if history's any indicator, I'll be doing my shopping a week or so before school starts, and I'll probably forget something mission-critical, like those 30 containers of hand sanitizer every classroom requires these days.

    As if getting the right supplies isn't hard enough, parents are now expected to make their kids' first day of school into an artsy-crafty, design-magazine-worthy occasion. Not sure what I mean? Behold the Pinterest mom's approach to back to school ... vs the, ah, slightly less organized mom. (Hi!)

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    Many families are already gearing up to begin the school year. For moms with kids who have food allergies, intense preparation is in full swing. After all, ensuring that your child, their school, and you as the parent are all on the same page can certainly be a process. But take heart: Given that one in 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy, it's a process most schools are becoming more adept with helping parents through.

    "We always encourage parents to have meetings with the school early, so they can determine what the policies are and the forms they need to complete," recommends Hemant Sharma, M.D., Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. But opening lines of communication is just the start.

    Here, 7 to-dos experts recommend parents of kids with food allergies try to tackle before the year's first bell.

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    Every year it happens. The school supply list comes in. I take one look, and I groan. Is it any wonder parents end up spending some $72.5 billion (yes, BILLION) on back to school shopping every year? Recycling your school supplies is darn near impossible.

    It's not that we don't have anything worth recycling. In the last few days of school, my 9-year-old daughter came home every day with a backpack full of the detritus that had accumulated in her desk and locker over the year.

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