The start of a new school year is here. Wow, summer went fast, didn’t it? You may be excited to get back into the routine of a new year or perhaps you’re sad to say goodbye to the relaxed days of summer. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, we’ve got a few tips to help make the transition back to school a little easier.
- Think outside the (lunch) box. You might welcome the break from packing lunches when summer rolls around, but there’s no need to dread it daily as long as you aren’t afraid to think outside the box. Nothing says lunch has to be the standard PB&J with an apple. Pack diced carrots, celery and cucumbers with hummus, a side of fruit and some trail mix for a healthy option. You can also do yummy wraps with turkey or ham, cheese, lettuce and ranch dressing, some veggie straws and a banana. Cheese, crackers and salami or pepperoni are the perfect ingredients for homemade lunchables. Kids can stack and create as they wish! On special days, like the first day of school, a birthday or even when your child has a big test or project due, tuck a sweet surprise like a cupcake or cookies from Ashley’s in their lunchbox.
- Get it done the night before. Mornings are already chaotic enough for most of us, with a lot to do in a short amount of time before we need to be out the door. Try to do anything that can be done the night before, like packing lunches, picking out outfits and making sure all folders, homework assignments and needed items are in the backpack. If your child has a sport or music practice after school, make sure all the needed equipment (shoes, cleats, uniforms, instruments, etc.) are organized and ready to go.
- Give everyone their own designated space. To help keep track of it all, give everyone in the family their own designated space to keep their stuff. This could be a basket by the front door, a hook in the laundry room or a cubby in the mudroom – whatever works for the space in your home and makes sense for your family. This is the spot where everyone can keep backpacks, shoes, projects, work totes, etc. so things can be easily found in the morning or whenever you need them. It’s also a great way to have kids pitch in. Even little ones can return shoes and backpacks to the proper place when told. Another way to make things easier for the school year – keep a calendar visible to track important meetings, assignments, school and social events and due dates for projects, library books and registration deadlines.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Life is busy for everyone, no matter your age or the season of life you’re in. When you add school and work commitments, extracurricular activities, social events, and the normal “everyday stuff” (doctor’s appointments, shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning), it’s harder and harder to find free time. That’s why it’s important to know your limits and to not be afraid to say “no” if you don’t have time to do something or you’re invited to something you don’t really want to do. It’s okay to carve out family time, or time to spend with your significant other. It’s okay to only let children do one sport or activity per season. It’s okay to not volunteer for every school event. It’s okay to not make all the social happy hours with coworkers. In this day and age of busy schedules, give yourself the freedom to say “no” to what you don’t want to do and open up more time for what you enjoy, even if that means a day of doing nothing!
- Find your rhythm. What works for you and your family might not be what works for everyone else, and that’s okay. If you’re a working parent, your kids might have a little later bedtime so you can spend an extra 30 minutes with them each day. Perhaps you make Sunday family dinners a priority every week, no matter what’s going on. Maybe your kids buy lunch every day because it’s easiest for your household. Perhaps dad drives the kids to school each morning instead of taking the bus. This school year, find the rhythm that works for you and embrace it. This will make for a happier, healthier, better school year for everyone. Good luck!