5 Back-to-School Tips for Mom and Dad

5 Back-to-School Tips for Mom and Dad

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In the August issue, we had a lot of great tips on how to roll back into the back-to-school routine.  For my two sons, 8 and 10, it’s not just getting them organized, but also mom and dad too.

I admit, in years prior, getting back into school’s daily habits were more difficult on us, than them.  I enjoyed sleeping in a little more, not having to jump out of bed to make breakfast, lunches, sift through the piles of clothing in the baskets that sometimes (ok, more often than I would care to admit) are in my living room.

This summer, I did something different, I decided to get a head start on school to ensure not only my kids are prepared, but I am too. Here’s what I learned.

1. The Shoe Dilemma Solved

Morning were mostly were chaotic due to shoes. Two sons, coming home from either playing outdoors or late from a sports activities would chronically fling their shoes off upon entering. Since I don’t have a luxury of a mud room or an entryway closet, there would be many mornings spend searching for a lost shoe or pair. I never thought of a shoe rack until I went to my sister-in-law’s new home over vacation. It was so obvious, right? Better late than never. We now have a shoe rack (which was very inexpensive and fits quite nicely in a space near the door. The new order of the house is no shoes allowed (unless they are guests). This will hopefully eliminate the shoe issue and a bonus — cleaner floors.

2. Fresh School Supplies

Each year, I rush to buy supplies, usually one of the last things on my list of to-do’s.    However, I printed out the school supply lists in July and began shopping. I also thought to buy extra this year. The plan is when the boys need to do projects, I would have fresh supplies available. Extra glue sticks, poster board, crayons and sharpen pencils is always some we either don’t have ready or have to rush out to buy during the school year. I am keeping the extra supplies in a special place (which I can remember, hopefully) so when we need them, it will be ready. Are you buying supplies too? This year, I thought I wouldn’t not only buy extra for my house, but also donate to kids in need. Some parents might not be able to afford these long lists of supplies. We donated two backpacks with essentials (all for a very inexpensive price at places such as the Dollar Tree) and donated to the Mentor Fire Department’s Stuff the Ambulance project.

Anton, 8, dropping off the donated school supplies at Mentor Fire Department. He wants to be a firefighter and was happy to help people in need, along with wear his fire outfit and tour the station.

3. Housekeeping those Papers

I finally cleaned out those unwanted papers from last year and began anew the task of filling out after-school forms, etc, etc. I feel the need to get organized for all the incoming paperwork that the school sends home and since I am a new school volunteer (PTA board member). I purchased a binder that has multiple folders for paperwork. I also started to update my calendar with  important school dates to remember. I get overwhelmed with how much the kids bring home, especially their “Friday Folders” which is filled with their weekly graded work. With my son in fifth-grade and my other son in third-grade, I feel like a mountain of paper, enough to feel bad for all those trees, will be coming. My goal is to have a place for everything and throw anything away that isn’t needed. I have a small cabinet in my house (I brought from the Dollar Store) now that will hold their friday folders, homework, lunch bags, bookbags, and other things coming home. This will eliminate the morning craziness of “Where is my folder?” “Where is my bookbag?” “What did I do with my homework?” “Or for me, Where did I put that  important paper I need to sign so you can go on your field trip?”

4. Lunch Woes

The dreaded making lunches in the morning. By the end of school, the boys were barely making the school bus because I was rushing to finish making their lunches. It was never organized. I would just put a sandwich together (that would come home uneaten) or place those crackers, fruit cups and sometimes pudding cups, granola bars, apples (again, many times uneaten) inside their lunch bags. I hated sending them to school with these mostly processed foods. The beginning of the school year, I would provide a more healthy variety (that of course would still come home uneaten). I am not giving up though. This year, I am going to make a monthly schedule and stick to it. They will sit down and help me with foods they would like to eat for lunch. I will set a schedule of what I will make in their lunches. My plan is to purchase everything in advance. I am making a commitment to take a few minutes before I go to bed and prepare most of their school lunches. (See the food packing safety tips in our August issue)

5. Get Up for School, Mom

Last year, I cried some mornings, I admit, as my sons just couldn’t get it together in the morning. It was a battle of wills and I lost, always. I realized it wasn’t them though, it’s me. I am the one barking orders at them to get up, hurry, but I was guilty of letting them sleep a little too long (ok, so I slept in a little too long too.) This year, I will win the war on mornings. Each kid has a different timeframe for waking. One child’s alarm has to go off earlier (before his brother’s) so he has some control and time in his morning. The other brother can wake up a little later and still be ready on time. The mom, needs to wake before all the children, not just at the same time. This will make my morning a bit easier. I can feel refreshed and get things prepared so I don’t have to bark, yell (or cry).

About the author

Angela Gartner is the current editor at Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine. She previously served as editor for Cleveland/Akron/Lake-Geauga Family magazines. As a journalist, her features and columns have appeared in newspapers and other publications including The News-Herald, Sun Newspapers as well as the Chicago Tribune. She grew up in Northeast Ohio and is a mom of two boys. She loves watching her two sons play either at the ice rink or baseball field. Her favorite things are books, spending time finding new places around Northeast Ohio and hanging out with the family dog, a Scottish Terrier named Jagger.

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