Another year, another back-to-school episode of the Best of Both Worlds podcast! This week, Sarah and I talk through our own back-to-school tips, and share a round-up of strategies that listeners use to get the year off to a good start. Among them:
Relax. People went back to school before this because a huge “season” with such craziness as the “back-to-school fairy” (who brings school supplies). There’s always some stress with starting a new schedule, but in a week or two it will be good.
Shortcuts are fine. If your district offers a pre-packaged school supply box, buy it. My kids buy school lunch, which is a good way to get a hot option. If they’re not happy with this, the understanding is that they can make their own (my 12-year-old has discussed doing this some days this year. We’ll see how that shakes out).
You can do some things without doing everything. Your kids’ teachers will not pay less attention to your kid if you miss one back-to-school event. You can volunteer for one-off events (such as chaperoning a field trip) without making an ongoing commitment. I would add, though, that you might be able to do more serious volunteer work if you want. I discovered this past year that being a room parent was surprisingly doable, even with work commitments.
Make an activity spreadsheet. This is really just a visual representation of the family schedule. I use one of my 168 Hours spreadsheets to plot out which child needs to be where when. This is a good way to see which days would be better for scheduling events that could happen on different days (karate and swim, for instance, offer multiple practice options per week). It also helps me (and the kids!) see that even if we’re doing a lot, there is still a fair amount of available space. I highly recommend it.
Designate a spot. For anything you need to get out the door in the morning, or for activities such as homework. Hunting for lost stuff is a horrible waste of time, and the more kids you have, the more items might get lost.
Plan something fun for the first afternoon or the first weekend. Maybe it’s getting ice cream together or having a special dinner, or going to an amusement park that first weekend, but planning in something that everyone can look forward to makes starting a new routine more manageable. We’ll be going to a fair and a concert (all of us!) our first weekend back!
Go back to school yourself. Even if you’re not officially taking classes somewhere, why not use the fresh-start energy of fall to start practicing a new skill, or to take on a new project? We should all be life-long learners, even if we ended formal school a great many years ago.
Please give the episode a listen. And if you know someone who might be a good Best of Both Worlds listener, would you mind recommending us? We’d really appreciate the opportunity to grow our audience!