mom giving son school lunch
August is a busy time of year for anyone with children. The thought of getting everyone back on a schedule, stocking up on school supplies and packing lunches can leave even the most organized mom’s head spinning in circles. But there are things you can do to make the transition to school easier this year!
For those of us who are used to packing everything in at the last minute this can be a recipe for disaster. Starting early works in many areas and I would encourage you to consider the following:
• Bedtime. If your children are used to a summer schedule slowly inch back their bedtime to the normal school routine. Dr. Tracey Marks says, in her article “How To Get Kids on a Back-to-School Sleep Schedule” on huffingtonpost.com, “If your child is a month away from starting school and is staying up late at night, have him go to bed 15 minutes earlier than when he’s currently going to bed. Then move this time backwards by increments of 15 minutes every three to four days.”
• Shopping. Back-to-school means a lot of shopping. From purchasing a mile-long list of school supplies to ordering uniforms or buying new clothes, starting early is the key. Not only is it best to start early in the morning on the day of your shopping trip so everyone is well-rested, it is best to shop at least two weeks in advance of your school start date. Then, you will avoid shopping through picked over supplies and visiting multiple retailers to complete your list.
Involve your children in the process
As our children get older it is tempting to maintain the same level of control and restraint, through consistent reminders and barking orders until our little army we call our family marches to the beat of our drum. While that may work for toddlers (although it is not preferable) it is not as beneficial for older children. Here are a few ways you can help your children accept some age-appropriate responsibility, create more peace at home, and lighten your load in the process.
• Charts. Children of all ages love charts to check off. Before the school year begins have your children each make a chart of their responsibilities. They can easily check off the list each day, earning a sticker for a fully checked off day. This offers a way to take you, the sergeant, out of the picture and put them in the driver’s seat. For pre-readers, it is helpful to draw pictures next to each activity. Put the chart in an acrylic photo frame that magnetizes to your refrigerator and tape a dry erase marker hung on a string next to it.
• Lunches. One of the most dreaded chores in a mother’s day (ok, that’s me talking) is making lunches. Whether I do it at night after the dinner dishes (which rarely happens) or whether I squeeze it in the morning, it always seems to be a big time sucker. Last spring, I found my girls enjoyed packing their own ‘additional’ items while I made the sandwiches. Not only are they able to have a say in what they eat (within reason), but it is a big help to me!
Embrace the season
Just yesterday I received a message on Facebook from an old friend updating me on her family. Her two daughters are grown, one recently married and one just off to college, and she reminded me to treasure these days because they pass quickly. Although back-to-school is a busy time of year, embrace the season, knowing ‘this too shall pass.’ One day too soon, the house will be quiet, you’ll be able to sleep in and you won’t have to taxi anyone around anymore. But in that brief moment, you might find that you are longing for some of the hustle and bustle of back-to-school. Make a decision to love this busy time of year as it is and you’ll find peace even in the midst of chaos.
April O’Leary is a Certified Life Coach, Author and Founder of the University of Moms. She works with moms privately and in groups in her Bonita Springs office or by phone to help them find peace in their often busy and stressful lives. To learn more about April visit apriloleary.com and uofmoms.com where you can register for some free gifts.