Stress-Free Back to School: Counting Down the Days

The following post is from Shaina of Food for My Family and Olmanson Photography:

source: lastyearsgirl_
source: lastyearsgirl_

This back-to-school series was first posted two years ago, but as we head into back-to-school season, it seems appropriate to repost it!

The days of summer are waning quickly, and school will be in session before you know it, if it’s not already. I’ve noticed there are different reactions to this. Some parents are sad to send their kids off, knowing the weather will grow colder and the days shorter, the lazy summer mornings a thing of the past. For others, going back to school is a return to normalcy and they look forward to the routine that the school season brings.

No matter which you are – or even a combination of both – preparing for school and having a plan of attack will help you make the transition from a relaxed summer schedule into the everyday hum that school brings with it.

Now: Get Prepared

:: Clean out the closets and dressers
We start school preparation by going through the summer clothes and getting rid of the too small clothes, making room for new clothes and turning any stained or holey clothes into fabric scraps or rags for the garage.

:: Back to school shopping
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to find the class supply list and make a trip to the store. Waiting until the last few days can usually mean picked-over aisles and more stressed parents and kids.

:: Confirm times
Take a minute to look at school start and end times and bus schedules. If you have daycare, make sure that they know those times as well and that routes and arrangements are set and made for the school days as necessary. Knowing when and where everyone needs to be can avoid confusion and showing up late for the first day of school.

:: Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
Whether it’s permission slips, medical records, registration forms or the like, school means paperwork for you as a parent. Make sure you have all the necessary forms and initials signed and in place early to avoid frantic doctor appointments for physicals or immunizations when you realize you’re missing something the night before or – worse – the day of.

5 Days Before School Starts: Set a Nighttime Routine

Returning to your school-time schedule ahead of time can make the transition less bumpy. Getting enough sleep and having time for breakfast in the morning will make a huge difference in a child’s demeanor and attention span the first weeks of school. We use the week leading up to school to start getting back to our bedtime schedule, complete with baths and bedtime stories, so the kids are comfortable with it by the time the first day of school rolls around.

4 Days Before School Starts: One Last Play Date

The transition into homework and fall sports can sometimes leave less time for trips to the park with friends. Take a minute to have a friend over one last time before arithmetic and soccer practice sneak into the evening picture.

3 Days Before School Starts: Pack the School Bag

Having everything in the bag and labeled a few days before ensures that you won’t be running around trying to find missed items at the last minute, and it also spares mom and dad the headache of doing it late at night the day before.

2 Days Before School Starts: Have a Family Day

Whether it’s a picnic in the park or one last trip to the lake, take a day the weekend before to spend some worry-free quality time with the family. It could be a long time before the whole family is free from book reports or soccer games all on the same day. Take advantage of the freedom while you can.

1 Day Before School Starts: Get Everything Ready

Lay out clothes for the next day and make lunches before you start your bedtime routine. It’s the little things like this that can take up unexpected time in the morning and create tension when you can’t find the right pair of pants or the specific shirt your child is looking for. Also consider planning your breakfast menu so you can make sure you have the time for whatever it is you plan on serving that first day back.

When do your kids go back to school? Have you started preparing for the transition?

Shaina Olmanson is the freelance writer, photographer, and home cook behind Food for My Family. Cooking daily with and for her four kids and husband, Ole, drives her desire to inspire other families to do the same. Shaina is also the author of Desserts in Jars and contributes regularly to a variety of online sites and traditional print magazines.