Back to School time is extremely hectic, not just for kids, but for parents too. It requires a transition from laid-back, easy-going schedules to regimented structure and lots and lots of activities. It’s no wonder that 55% of parents are stressed out about the back to school season. I certainly am no exception. I dread the hectic back-to-school pace, but there are a few things that help me make the transition less stressful. Hopefully these tips can help you and your family make the return to school a little less crazy too.
- Take Advantage of Online Retailers. Kids grow crazy fast. I remember my oldest son coming to me one morning wearing pants an inch above his ankles. I told him to change into pants that fit and he responded “they’re all like this!” I could have sworn he had pants that fit the night before. So, back to school time means new clothes and I shop for these new clothes online. It saves so much time and is often much less expensive. This is particularly true for boy’s athletic shoes, which my sons are literally able to wear to shreds after a few months! I don’t know how I managed before Amazon Prime.
- Stop sacrificing time for money. In most cases, I make the effort to be frugal. And, saving money is very important. However, when it comes to back-to-school supplies I opt for the pre-packed boxes offered by the school. They are more expensive and I know I can save money on pencils, folders and notebooks if I buy them myself. However, for me it simply is not worth the few extra dollars to sacrifice the time and stress it takes to shop for school supplies during this busy time of year.
- Plan ahead and Pre-package. I can’t explain why, but for some reason packing lunches for school is one of the most difficult and daunting tasks of the school year. I literally dread having to do it. I had a mini-breakdown a couple of years ago over lunch packing and now my husband has taken over this duty just to save me the anguish. One of the ways we make this chore easier is to plan a week or two of lunches in advance and pre-package as much as we can. I cut celery and carrots into sticks, pack them in snack bags and put the bags in a big Tupperware in the fridge. Each morning one package goes in the lunch box. I do the same with fruits like grapes and oranges, though these can only be done a couple of days in advance because they are so perishable. I buy large containers of healthy dry snacks like pretzels, trail mix, nuts and crackers and sort them into snack baggies too. And, I make use of online shopping here, as well. I start a monthly subscription delivery of granola bars, organic milk and other lunch snacks, so that I never have to worry about running out.
- Give up on the guilt. Last but certainly not least, I repeatedly remind myself that it is okay to not do everything and be everywhere with the kids during the school year. With two boys in different grades that have varied interests, we literally have one or more after-school commitments every day of the week. I manage some of them, my husband manages some of them and for some, the kids manage themselves. I used to have so much “Mom guilt” over not wanting to go to their camping excursions or missing a practice or game because I was at work, and I still have this guilt to some degree. But, I know through the interactions I have with my children that they know they are loved. I know that they know they are important to me. I hope they know that when things really matter I will always be there for them. So, I am able to let go of the guilt over some of the smaller missed events and activities because sometimes it is necessary to meet your own needs and wants.
All of these things make the transition of going back to school a little bit easier, but there is no complete escape. Back to school will always mean back to crazy. Which is why kids and parents alike start the first day of school with a countdown to summer vacation: 277 days to go!