Best of Both Worlds podcast: We’re going back to school!

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!

4 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: We’re going back to school!

  1. I really appreciated all of the tips and ideas in the podcast! Some were good reminders and some were new to me. Question for Laura: which style (name) of MM LaFleur pants do you have that you like?

  2. Good tips! We did not make a big party of back to school because the boys were tense enough, I thought. And soccer practice (their extracurricular) doesnt start til the end of september (!). However, my own calendar from now until the first week of october is really filled to the brim! Hope all my extracurriculars won’t destroy my boys’ rhythm!

  3. School started here 8/7 so we’re getting adjusted, but apparently I am following the “BoBW” advice before even hearing about it 😀 I decided this year to let our 2nd grader buy hot lunch twice a week instead of once (Tue/Thurs) and it’s surprising how this feels like less work because I’m not nagging her about packing lunch that extra weekday evening. Unfortunately with her, we can’t let “natural consequences” fall where they may wrt eating (ie you didn’t remember to pack lunch, so no lunch) because she spirals into horrible behavior quickly when she’s hungry AND she’s a kid who never recognizes her hunger/resulting bad behavior. She would happily skip snack and lunch and by the end of the day, end up in the principal’s office (sigh). If she becomes less picky, we’ll possibly move up to more hot lunches per week 😉

    And our school does a requested donation for school supplies. For us with 2 working parents, we’re shorter on time, so we make up for reduced volunteering by donating more. I generally just double whatever the school is asking for – so for a $10 field trip, I send in $20, etc. (Our school is pretty modest in its requests.) I think I might have gotten this suggestion from BoBW too 😀

    I do make time to volunteer in my younger daughter’s class every other week for about an hour at the start of the day – filing, prepwork, etc. This lets me observe how she’s doing and get to know how the class runs, and since they start at 7:45am, I’m back at my desk for work long before my engineer coworkers roll in at 10am 😀 Weekly seemed like too much, but every other week is great. The teacher was quite accommodating, and last year I found another working mom who took the alternate weeks from me.

    And, just as you suggested, I decided to take a class as well 🙂 My daughter is in a Mandarin Chinese immersion public school here, and I thought I’d show her solidarity by taking a Chinese class too. It meets at the same time as one of her other weekend activities so I can do my class while she’s doing hers. So while it’s 2 hours of my time, I was sort of “killing time” away from home anyway, waiting for her, because her class is 45 min from our house and too far to drop off and come back home. Wish me luck – Chinese is super hard to learn already, and I’m not sure my 40-something brain will survive 😀

    1. @ARC – wow, good for you for signing up for Mandarin! You really will be going back to school, and not in a particularly easy way!

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