• Preparing for Back to School

by Brittany Ryan Mathiowetz August 15, 2018

It's hard to believe that summer is nearing an end and it's time to go back to school. We've enjoyed the freedom of having flexibility in our days (and nights!), and to be honest I'm a little scared of adjusting back to a more rigid schedule. This year, we have two headed back to school: Ezri, who will be entering 1st Grade, and Roa, who will be starting his first year of preschool a couple of days per week. Mornings are already chaotic for us, so I'm making it my mission to ensure our new routine goes smoothly and I send the kids off to school with smiles on their faces! Consider it my "New School Year Resolution" :)

SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE THE FIRST DAY

BEDTIME:

Our kids are little night owls, so getting them to bed at a decent hour is going to be my biggest hurdle. Rather than dive all in and introduce a significantly earlier bedtime, we started out closer to their usual time and then adjusted in 15-minute increments until we were at what we felt was appropriate. According to the National Sleep Foundation, preschoolers and school-aged kids should be getting between 9 and 13 hours of sleep per night. With a wake time of 7am, we set our new bedtime at 8:30pm for both kids. We'll adjust that if needed depending on how things go the first two weeks.

GET EXCITED! 

Open House Night at SchoolStarting a new school is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I made a point to model my own behavior after what I wanted to see in my kids. I do this by "talking-up" school every chance I get and explaining all the fun things they'll be doing. Seeing old friends, making new ones, learning new skills, recess, art class, new books, games, even riding the school bus is something for them to look forward to! Our school hosts an Open House the week before the first day, so this was a great opportunity to feed off the other kids' excitement while familiarizing themselves with their teachers and classrooms.

>> Open House Night at School

 

SCHOOL SHOPPING

Back to School ShoppingAnother way the kids got excited for school was by shopping for all the necessary supplies. Choosing their favorite backpacks was at the top of the list, but in reality they had fun crossing off all the items on their supply list from boring items like pencils and glue sticks to more exciting purchases like headphones and gym shoes. Our school starts in mid-August, so new clothing wasn't really needed until fall, but we still picked up a few new items in the meantime.

 

FORMS, FORMS, FORMS


Me, attempting to fill out the mountain of school forms with a toddlerThere it was: the thick yellow envelopes (yes, plural!) stuffed with all the forms and papers the school needed before the start of the year. Now that we have two kids in school, this meant I nearly had to set aside an entire Sunday morning to complete them all! Okay, maybe I'm being dramatic, but it was a little daunting. In any case, I felt I nice sense of accomplishment having them completed with time to spare before the big day.

^Me, attempting to complete the mountain of school forms with Kai

 

EMBRACE YOUR INNER TYPE-A PERSONALITY

MEAL PLANNING

Personalized Weekly Meal PlannerWeeknights are BUSY. To avoid the daily headache of deciding what's for dinner, followed by the immediate realization that a last-minute stop at the market is required, we plan our meals in advance. We don't have much time between when we get home and dinner, so we make a lot of one-pot and slow-cooker meals to save on time (check our Pinterest board for recipes we love!). I ordered a "Weekly Meal Planner" notepad from Shutterfly on a whim and it works great. We plan our meals for the week and make just one trip to the store. Sometimes, when we're extra on top of things, we even do TWO weeks in advance. Yay us!

CREATE A FAMILY CALENDAR

Creating (and USING) a shared iCal with my husband is probably the single most effective organizational tool I have implemented since becoming a parent. Special school performances, dance practice, work schedules, birthday parties, doctor appointments, etc all get put into the calendar and that way we both always know what's going on when. Of course the biggest obstacle is actually *putting* the info in the calendar itself, but it's become second nature to me.

FAMILY "CONTROL CENTER"

Family Control CenterOur Message Board, where we keep calendars, meal plans, schedules, invitations, and other important papers. And of course some kid artwork too :)

Kids bring home A LOT of papers. Like, a crazy amount. Last year, our dining room table became a catch-all and I wasn't quite sure how to combat that. I found a combination Pin Board/Mail Holder with key hooks that works great. Some people like to include a visual calendar, but since we personally use a digital calendar, I found I never used a physical one. I use binder clips to hang important papers from the key hooks (ahem, the aforementioned school forms!) and the pin board for event invites, coupons, and of course a few of my little artist's masterpieces too. The letter holder houses notepads, pens, letters, and stamps. Make sure to hang whatever control center you decide on in an easily accessible place while also not being in the way. So far this system has kept our dining room table clear!

NIGHT-BEFORE PREPARATIONS

I know, I know. Sometimes we start with the best of intentions only to fall short after a few weeks. However, I've heard that it takes 3 weeks for new habits to become second nature so that's what I'm going for. THREE WEEKS! I can do that...right? This is my list of what I have prepared each school night:

  1. Homework done, school bags packed, all permission forms, lunch money, etc included.
  2. Clothing (and hair choices, if applicable) for the next day laid out and ready to go.
  3. Breakfast prepared as much as possible. MOMMA TIP: get a programmable coffee maker!!
  4. Any items needed for after-school activities organized and readily available.

HOME LIFE

I'm adding this here because I think it's soooo important. With school in session, it's now more important than ever to make sure the kids get adequate time with their parents. That doesn't mean every night is family game/movie/etc night, but each child should get a least a few minutes every evening where they can speak freely about whatever is on their little minds. This isn't always possible with school, work, evening activities, and all the other tasks that go along with raising a family. Family meal times, good night stories, even a heart-to-heart conversation during the commute between activities will both keep you involved in your kids daily lives and also show them you are interested in their feelings. It's easy to "live for the weekends", but in doing so we'd be missing out on all the excitement happening Monday through Friday.

ADJUST AS NECESSARY

Things don't always work out as planned. If you're reading this, you're most likely a parent and therefore well versed on this! If something isn't working, it's time for a new plan. Get ideas from other parents or do a little googling to see what others are trying (seriously what did parents do before google?). Your child's teacher is also a great resource too and is likely full of ideas that will benefit not only your child but your family as a whole too.

IN CONCLUSION

Tips for Preparing for Back to School

So there you have it. If you have any tips to share, please leave them in the comments below. I'd love to hear how you stay organized and keep your household running smoothly.

Cheers to a great year!!



Brittany Ryan Mathiowetz
Brittany Ryan Mathiowetz

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