Jul 29, 2013

Back to School? 10 days to get ready!

I've been pretty quiet on my blog because we've been at family camp in the Santa Cruz mountains and now we are visiting family at the beach.  It's been a good end to a busy summer (I will do a final look at our bucket list next week).

Round these parts (at least in our school districts) school is starting in just about 10 days. 11 weeks of summer vacation and BAM, we are sliding toward that dreaded first day and getting a rug burn as we go...
I am a horrible procrastinator.  I often have great plans and never get around to them.  This year, I know better, I have already started on my list (we will be out of town until just 7 days before), and I have things I need to get done so I don't feel so overwhelmed by the transition.

Clean your kid's backpacks (or buy them a new one)
It is easy to do, but if you need a little help you can read this post I found that gives a list of things you should clean and how to clean 'em (including a backpack).  If you are too busy to click over and read the whole thing the long and short is this: spray with oxy-clean or spray-and-wash on the dirtiest bits and then wash on gentle cycle in your washer and air dry.

Clean your kid's lunch box (or buy them a new one)
If you are thinking "Lunch box... where is my kid's lunch box?" I would suggest you just go find it (probably buried in their backpack or closet) and throw it away (shudder).  You can make or buy a new one (or two per kid) I found these cute directions for a chalk board lunch bag, or if you rescued the bag at the beginning of the summer, this blog has directions on how to clean out a lunch bag.

Begin de-Zombi-fying your kids (if you haven't already)
I wrote a whole post on defeating Zombie children, and in a nutshell it has to do with getting them back on a school schedule, cutting back on screen time and sharpening up their academic skills.  It's a painful process, but it will make the transition back to school so much better (for everyone involved).

Help your kids clean up their work-space (Especially if your kid struggles with focus)
Earlier this year I talked about my son's diagnosis with ADHD and why we aren't choosing medication.  Part of coping with ADHD is creating a work environment that will empower him to be more successful.  Even if your kid doesn't have ADHD, creating a quiet, clean and organized space for him or her to do homework will help during the transition.  There are many different ways you can do this, I would suggest you do a little google search.  As for me and my house, we clean out the drawers of their desks, create empty spaces to fill up later and make sure the surface of their workspace is clutter free.

Clean up your work space (and plan for the inundation of papers from school)
I have often wondered how parents with more than two kids deal with the obscene numbers of papers that come home from school every week.  I vow every year to do a better job of the one-touch rule (only touch each paper one time; toss it, file it, or sign it and return it).  There are so many different strategies, find one that works and clear off your desk (to get it ready to deal with the papers)

Discuss the back-to-school schedule with your kids
Often we just get going in the year without having an expectations talk with our kids, we expect that they know them, and they really have no idea.  This is a great time to discuss expectations about effort, school-work, and afternoon tasks like chores and practicing an instrument. Family meetings can be painful, so promise ice cream afterwards to keep them engaged.

Get your school supplies organized
Maybe you did this when you cleaned up the workspace, but if not, buy and sharpen pencils, sit down with your kids as they fill up their binders, and make sure you have things like crayons, washable markers, or colored pencils on hand for those all-too-important coloring assignments (so your kids can't claim they can't find a pencil, or paper when it's time for homework).

Get your lunch-making materials together (do you have enough containers, plastic bags, planned and easy lunches, do you have containers for snacks and a water bottle for your kids?)
Not that you have to send lunch with your kids everyday, but if you plan to save the money and the calories and sodium that comes with school lunches, it's best to be prepared in advance so you don't wake up one morning and feel like you have no choice.

Have friends over and have an end of summer celebration (make sure the friends will be there the first day of school, find out what time they will be there so your kids have something to look forward to)
Going back to school is both exciting and hard... for all of us.  Make it a little easier to transition by giving your kids a shared experience or two prior to the first day's recess "who-will-I-play-with" stress.  
Pretend it's the first day
Wake up as if it's a school day, walk to school (or better yet, go get doughnuts at the time you would go to school) and go to bed as if it's a school day.  Plan ahead for an after school debriefing for the first day of school (a healthy snack and other special treat (homemade cookies), and gently asked questions).

On the first day of school: invite a few of your mama friends over in the morning for coffee (or mimosas) to celebrate the beginning of school!

What about you?  What do you do to help your kids get ready to go back to school??

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