Back to school time is no joke. Whether you’re ready for the kids to go back or still enjoying the freedom of summertime, transitioning back into the school year is an adjustment, and it can be stressful. But there are things you can do to make it easier getting back into the swing of things.
Get ahead of supply lists. Some schools offer prepackaged school supplies you can buy over the summer. Even if it’s too late this year, plan ahead to take advantage of this quick step for the next school year so you’re not scrambling for supplies right before school starts. If you still find yourself caught up in the back to school supply rush, consider ordering online, or building an online order for in-store pickup, which can make it easier than hunting down particular supplies while you’re in the store with other crazed back to school shoppers.
Get back in routines before school starts. It’s a mistake to let kids stay up late and sleep in all the way up to the first day of school, especially teenagers. Transition them back into your school schedule so they can adjust appropriately.
Start scheduling. Summer offers lazy days, but those quickly fizzle when school is back in session. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re constantly forgetting where you need to be and what needs to be done. Find a calendar and to do list solution that works for you, whether it’s notes and a calendar with reminders on your phone or a family command whiteboard in your kitchen.
Don’t do it all yourself. Encourage children to do age appropriate tasks that can take a load off. Building your grocery list for a lunch run? Ask them what they want — and what they are willing to pack for lunch themselves. Can kids set out their own clothes for the next day each night before bed?
Set expectations. Let children know what the plan is, and what you expect of them. Many stressful moments can be smoother if family members know what’s ahead and how they should prepare. For example, if you know you have karate class on Thursday nights, remind your child about it Thursday morning before school starts. Make sure they know when they’re expected to do homework and home responsibilities, too.
Create a dedicated homework area. Make it easier for kids to focus on homework by giving them a distraction free space to do it. Set up their homework area with plenty of space for papers and electronics, along with handy access to the supplies they need to get their work done.
Make time for stress relief. Going back to school can be stressful for everyone in the family, so you need to work in some relaxation time. Plan time to get exercise, spend time outdoors, or do yoga. Whatever your family finds relaxing, make sure it doesn’t get pushed aside just because school is back.
Susan Austin is a family research specialist with Family Living Today. A mother of three and small business owner in Texas, Austin spends her days juggling work and family life — sometimes expertly, sometimes not.