As the sounds of the ice cream truck fade into the distance, you know it’s almost time to go back to school – a glorious time for most parents and not so much for the kiddos. The end of summer means an earlier bed time, homework, and, for many kids, wearing a uniform that doesn’t include flip-flops or swimwear. What can you do to make this time more exciting and joyful and less “Why do we even have to go to school?” or “You’re sooooo mean!”?
Here are a few ideas to help you and your kids have a more “Zen” transition from summer to school.
Prep Meals Together
Surf the web or scan Pinterest to find meals that make great lunches, require no heating, and, if possible, that your kids will love. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and having something other than a peanut butter and jelly, chips, and cookie five days a week would be welcomed. There are so many different containers for lunch boxes that you can make anything seem fun, and you might even be able to sneak in a few healthy choices. Plus, if you can do this activity together on the night before, you may be able to get an extra five minutes of sleep-in time the next morning.
Pick an Outfit the Night Before
If you have boys, this task is simple since every day probably consists of a superhero, surfing, or sports team t-shirt and basketball shorts or jeans. If you have girls, it’s another story. With girls, having this major decision solidified before going to bed makes the mornings significantly less stressful. Have your daughter try things on since that adorable dress that you bought in May might now be a top that needs a bottom!
Set up a Command Center for Books, Folders, and Backpacks
Make space for school paraphernalia. This area should have an in-basket where everything that needs a parent’s signature is placed as soon as kids get home from school. Homework should be returned to this location and placed in the appropriate folder and backpack for transport back to school. This command center is a great place to have a large, dry-erase board set-up where kids can write down project due dates, upcoming tests, and anything else that might help make things less chaotic.
Have Quiet Hours Established
Set aside an hour or so of quiet time for everyone, so homework gets done. It’s even a good time to do some stretching or yoga. Set this as a firm appointment that cannot be broken, and you should never have to hear the “I just didn’t have the time to get it all done” excuse.
As a working adult, you do a job and expect to get paid. Why should it be different for our kids? School is work, it is hard; and although the reward of a good education is awesome, they can’t really see that value until later. Work together to come up with a system for a special reward when the school work for the week is completed on time. Maybe it’s family movie night or game night. Maybe it’s monetary or maybe going to dinner to your child’s favorite spot.