Tips for a Back to School Win

As mom to a house full of young school-aged kids, I think of summertime as a marathon. Slow and steady wins the race, baby…

With fresh legs, high hopes, seeming preparedness, and sunny spirits, the gun goes off in June. BANG! At the beginning of July, we’ve hit a daily stride, but the novelty is definitely starting to disappear. By the 5th of July, the shine of summer is definitely gone and there’s only a torturous scorch where a warm, happy glow once was. We can feel the pain of every step on the track. And come August, well, we’re crawling along–surviving on sheer willpower alone. There are no new places to discover, no crafts that take long enough, and no good snacks in your pantry. We’re staring down the finish line; it is time to go back to school. Here are tips for making it through that final home stretch.

Get back on schedule

This one is rooouuughhh, but it is so darn key. It’s probably the most important variable in achieving back-to-school success. Why does it take no time at all for kids to adjust to staying up late? Yet it takes a good two weeks to get back to an early to bed, early to rise routine? One of the many mysteries of the universe. But so much better that these transition weeks happen before school right? Trust me, it makes for a much smoother morning, and way better first-day-back pictures.

Here’s how: on Sunday #1 in August, I wrangle the fam to start heading to bed at their schoolyear bedtime. In the morning, then – cold turkey! – I wake them in time to be dressed, eat breakfast, and make it to the bus for school. Now is also when I wean my little guys who still nap off their afternoon siestas. This process takes lots of patience and even more strong coffee, but you will thank yourself come the first real school day.

Organize the closets

This is one of those jobs that I tend to put off as long as humanly possible, but feel amazing about having done when I finally do it. To eliminate any surprises, I pull my second-graders and older children into the effort too. We divvy their clothes into save, donate, and irreparably stained/torn/worn baskets, and bring all of the seasonally appropriate options to the front of the closet.

Through this process, you’ll get a mental inventory of what they have and what they don’t. Then we create a list of what each kid really needs and I shop with purpose. Then, let each kid pick their first day outfit ahead of time and hang it in a special spot, all ready to go. Here’s why you’ll be glad you did it: #1 you get organized closets, #2 you cut down on shopping time AND spending, and #3 no outfit arguments on their first day!

Clean out the backpacks

If your kids are anything like mine, they have not touched/opened/considered their backpacks since the last day of school. This is the time to address those sad, neglected sacks. Empty and clean them (expecting crumbled and melted surprises); then, fill them up with this year’s super fresh notebooks, super sharp pencils, and super hip folders. Compare your supplies with the school-issued lists and hang the backpacks ready by the door. Then stop and pat yourself on the back, super mom.

Prepare the paperwork

It seems to me that the amount of paperwork we parents are expected to complete corresponds directly to the load of homework our kids get each year. It definitely multiplies every year. Medical checkups, allergy information, emergency instructions, personality traits, and learning habits – all of these notes need to be compiled in the first couple days and weeks of school.

I try to do what is required for each doc as it comes into the house, and I absolutely fill them out in the last week of summer, and send them in with my kids on the first days of school. Hey, if we expect our kids to do their homework on time, we better not be late either, right?

Have one last hurrah

As we near the end of the marathon that is summer, we make a plan for finishing on a memory-making high note. Some night, during that second-to-last week of break, together as a family, we take turns each picking one thing we’d like to experience before summer officially ends – and then we try to make it happen. Anything from an impromptu amusement-park trip to a hike in the woods to ice cream at our favorite scoop shop. It’s like that refreshing splash in the face when you finally. Reach. The finish line.

AND breathe, Mom. Summer is over and success is yours. You all made it through alive and I’m betting, with a record-breakingly awesome first day back.

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