back to school

6 Things Working Moms Can Do To Start The School Year Right

workingmomadvicebacktoschoolplanningBack-to-school season is in full swing, and parents are busy buying supplies and clothes, while mentally preparing for the demands of the year.

Here are six things parents can do during back-to-school season to get a good start for the school year.

Meet the teacher and return your parent homework quickly. Open house is an ideal time to meet the teacher. Also, be diligent about checking your child’s backpack each evening and return any forms to school immediately. As a working parent, your availability to volunteer in class may be limited, but responding quickly to teacher’s requests can go a long way, too. Just think, does the teacher really want to follow-up with over 20 parents when things aren’t returned?

Make a friend. One of the best ways to get through the year is to have another parent ally. This parent is a great resource if you forget something, accidentally delete an email, or just need to bounce an idea for a different perspective.

Create your child’s bio for the teacher. Trust me, the teacher will be happy to have a cheat sheet on your child’s personality, needs and more. Yes, you probably have something similar in your parent homework, but creating a bio gives you an opportunity to make a good impression, you can print it on color paper to help it stand out, and you’re not stuck to one format.

Monitor what goes right and wrong the first week, then tweak your system accordingly. The first week is for learning. What time will the bus really come? Are lunches working out?

Spend at least 10 minutes each evening with your child chatting about the day. It’s a great time to start this ritual. You’ll be setting a baseline for behavior and have a better point of reference if things change throughout the year.

Open a line of communication. Emails are great for this. Did your child come home happy the first few days? Tell the teacher. Say something nice about the teacher? Share that, too. Opening a line of pleasant communication can come in handy later in the year.

Happy School Year!

Back to School Checklist (Guide to Being Prepared, Not Stressed)

Back to School checklist with timing and tips 2015I love a good checklist. Actually I love lists – to-do lists, shopping lists, the list goes on and on.

Hahaha, see what I did there.

Okay, I digress. That being said, I need lists that are doable. I refuse to be taunted or intimidated by a list.

Below is my ULTIMATE Back-to-School list, complete with a timeline for planning. It’s helping my sanity while preparing for three school-aged kids. Even better, it is not overwhelming.

Enjoy and I hope it helps you and your family, too.

Back-to-School Checklist with Timeline

Four Weeks Before

  • Take inventory of clothes. Some people do this at the beginning of Summer, but my kids seem to sprout over the break. To make this task manageable, especially if you have more than one child, set a timer and work until time’s up. Do the same each day until you’re done. We worked in one hour increments and it helped me and the kids not be grumpy.
  • Download school supply shopping list from school’s website. At this point you don’t have to shop, but it’s good to have an idea of what you’ll need.
  • Add important school dates to your calendar and/or the family calendar. Doing this early will help you stay on top of events later.
  • Research after school care if needed. Now is a good time to start considering programs or interviewing nannies.

Three Weeks Before

  • Get immunizations and/or physicals if needed.
  • Take inventory of leftover school supplies. Mark items off of this year’s list that you already have.
  • Purchase bookbag/lunchboxes if needed. If using older ones, clean them and make sure all zippers and closures work. Also, make sure straps are in good condition.
  • Put your afterschool research to work. Visit potential programs and/or continue interviewing nannies. Narrow down your list of possibilities and finalize paperwork.

Two Weeks Before

  • Discuss extracurricular activities with kids. Get an idea of what they want to do (if they haven’t started). Keep in mind, homework and down time are important. Resist the urge to overschedule.
  • Do something fun. By now you’re gearing up for school and it’s easy to forget it is still Summer. Enjoy these last days by going to a local pool or beach, eating ice cream outside or having a smores night.
  • Begin adjusting bedtime slowly to get the kids back into a routine.
  • Begin picking up school supplies. I do this in two trips. The first trip is a solo trip once the kids are in bed. During this trip I pick up the staples (yellow pencils, glue sticks, paper, crayons, etc.). The next trip includes the kids and it’s when they pick up their personal items (pretty notebooks, pencil boxes, etc.). I find this is much easier than trying to pick up everything when they are with me.

Week Before

  • Implement a school bedtime. At this point kids can still sleep as long as they want in the morning, but going to bed will help them adjust better to school life.
  • Discuss expectations. This is a good time to highlight the positives of the previous school year and to encourage positive habits this year.
  • Review emergency plan with kids. Make sure they understand what to do if no one is at the bus stop or home, if someone gets hurt, etc.
  • Attend Open House.
  • Label bags, lunch boxes and other personal items. You can purchase labels or use a Sharpie. The important thing is that items can be returned to them if lost.

First Week of School

  • Have a special breakfast of power foods. Fruit, yogurt, waffles, pancakes and eggs are all good choices.
  • Reinforce emergency plans.
  • Make sure your emergency contact information is in their bookbag. I include one of my business cards.
  • Complete parent homework. Yes, you know all of those papers that come home the first week. It’s better to just suck it up and do it. Want to speed it up if you have more than one child at the same school? Fill out one with all of the information that is the same. Photocopy it and then fill in the information that is child-specific on the copies. It’s a great way to avoid writing your name, address and contact info over and over and over.
  • Treat yourself to something decadent. You totally deserve it.

Surviving The First Week of School

All of my parent homework is done!

We made it through first-day-of-school jitterbugs, quests for the perfect outfit, teacher meetings, discussing expectations for the upcoming year and ways to keep fun in our schedule.

Even more impressive? I finished all of my parent homework BEFORE the due date! Yes, all of the “getting to know my kid” sheets are done. For all three girls!

Here are a few things I did to make the first week of school manageable:

  • We started bedtime a little earlier than necessary. I knew going from a summer schedule to school schedule would not be easy. So, I built in a buffer to account for them talking and playing a little before they drifted off to sleep.
  • We talked about being nervous, other times we felt nervous and how well those things turned out. Everybody had a scenario that ended well to think about whenever they started feeling jitterbugs.
  • I made sure everyone knew what to expect of the next day before bedtime. Outfits were chosen, backpacks were packed and lunches were made. They also knew what time we had to leave, so there were no time surprises.
  • Afterschool transportation was discussed and alternatives were given in case of an emergency.
  • I wrote everything down. This is a lifesaver. With three people telling me needs for the next day there is no way I could remember everything. Plus, the list helps me decide what has to happen immediately and what can be scheduled for later.
  • I rewarded myself with chocolate. Everything is best celebrated with chocolate.

 

Hope this helps. Happy School Year!

Preparing For Back To School Time

How To Get Ready For Back To School

BackToSchoolPlanningSummer is great downtime. The kids get to sleep a little later, learning is more about life experiences instead of worksheets and class lessons, and I don’t have to spend time at night packing lunches or ironing outfits.

There are late dinners, trips to the pool and summer games.

I think about this as I start preparing for back to school time. I could be sad, but that won’t change the fact that school starts next week, my kids are excited about it, and the best way to set them up for a successful school year is to send them prepared.

Plus, the structure of a school day is good for all of us.

I do look forward to them sharing their school day experiences and then asking about my day at work. I look forward to reasonable bedtimes. And most of all, I love that they will learn about all types of things every day and make friends that they can have throughout life.

Now, for planning. Here is a back-to-school planning newsletter I created to help with many aspects of getting ready. It includes really great resources like checklists, lunch ideas and time management information.

I hope this makes your preparations a little easier.

Enjoy!

Princess Needs A Bio For Back To School

Getting Ready For Back To School Checklist

Until today I thought I was ready for back to school. I’ve purchased supplies (well everything except the latex-free pencils that I can’t find anywhere…), organized closets and planned the first week of lunches. Then I got an email and now I’m scrambling before Open House this evening.

My friend forwarded an email from celebratecalm.com, suggesting a one page bio of my child to give her teacher. Isn’t that a fabulous idea?!

A child’s bio is a great way to give the teacher a snapshot of my Princess, her strengths and weaknesses, and the best ways to engage her.

It also shows the teacher we are engaged parents and her education will be a shared effort, not a one-sided venture.

Here is the template I am using for her Back-To-School Snapshot/Bio. As an extra touch I plan to print it on color paper.

Hopefully you’ll get this more than a few hours before meeting your child’s teacher, :-).