We’ve all seen the commercial. Mom and kids walking peacefully down the perfectly-stocked and tidy aisles of their local big-box store, dropping boxes of pencils and notebooks gingerly into the cart. Looks like a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, right? Well, maybe not.
For most parents, preparing to send their kids back to school can be pretty stressful. School supplies and back-to-school clothes can get expensive, earlier wake-up times can be hard to get used to, and keeping track of all those orientations and open house nights can be a bit of a bear.
While we can’t ever promise a Pinterest-perfect back-to-school season (show us a “perfect” family, and we’ll show you the Loch Ness Monster), but we can make this annual transition a tiny bit easier on you and the whole family. Borrow these simple tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, and make the start of this school year your family’s best yet.
- Simplify the shopping
Before your brain breaks over the sheer number of school supplies on your child’s list, take a minute to poke around your house and see what your child might have left over from last year. You just might be surprised by how much of the list you’ve already got. Once you know what you actually still need to purchase, head to the stores as soon as you can. Don’t wait until the week before school starts, and try to go early in the morning—before the shelves are totally picked over and the lines are out of control. And if school is about to start and you’re scrambling? Consider ordering online to save yourself some time and hassle. There are tons of good deals out there, especially with coupon codes.
- Plow through that paperwork
Get any school-related forms filled out now, because there’s likely going to be plenty more of it coming down the pike in the first month of school. The more you can complete and send back early, the easier your life will be a few weeks from now.
- Check in with the doctor
Is your child up to date on all the shots required for her school? Has she had her physical so that she can start fall soccer with her teammates? Do you have copies of prescriptions for any medications your child might need to take at school? Make sure you get all of that taken care of ahead of time, and also double-check that you have any epi-pens, inhalers, etc. that your child might need. Rushing to get these at the last minute will add stress to everyone’s plate.
- Make time to save time
Get your kids started on time-saving habits as early as possible. That means earlier bedtimes, setting clothes out the night before, and even setting the breakfast table so that you have one fewer thing to do in the morning. If you can get this going even just a week before school starts, that’s ideal, but it’s really never too late to start adopting some of these routines.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate
Moms in particular too often try to take on everything on the back-to-school to-do list. The truth is, though, that partners often want to help, but don’t know where to start or what needs to be done. You'll feel a lot more together and way more relaxed if you make getting the kids back to school a family affair. Even the youngest of children can get in on the act by labeling their school supplies or organizing a place near the front door to keep all the backpacks in one place. Teamwork makes everything easier!