5 Back-to-School Survival Tips for Parents
For kids, back-to-school is an exciting and busy time. There are schedule changes, back to school nights and new daily routines for everyone. But for parents, when the kids start back to school often their health takes a back seat.
Too often overlooked are the challenges parents face throughout the school year. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61.9% of all families with kids have two working parents. So not only are you parents juggling your own jobs and commitments, you’re managing your kids’ calendars and commitments too.
My wife and I know how tough this balancing act can be. With now seventh and tenth graders, we’ve juggled the school year and our careers for a long time. Over the years we’ve created a system that reduces our stress, makes the school year go much smoother and make it easier for us to maintain our health (and sanity) year round.
These tips are like an oxygen mask on an airplane. Flight attendants instruct passengers in event of an emergency they need to put their oxygen mask on first before helping their child. After all, if you run out of air and pass out, you won’t be much help to anyone else. These tips will help you breathe easier and make the school year a whole heckuva lot more manageable and enjoyable for you and your children.
1. Calendar the whole year
One of the most unsettling things is when a school holiday creeps up on you and you didn’t know about it. It can leave you scrambling to find something for your child to do or to get coverage for them while you’re at work.
You can avoid this hassle and stress if you put the entire year on everyone’s calendar right off the bat. At the beginning of every school year, put everything you can on the calendar. Every holiday and field trip. Back-to-school night. Teacher appreciation day. Anything that your school publishes on their master school year calendar that affects your kids and family, put it on your calendar.
With digital calendars it’s easier than ever. Invite your partner to these so it’s on both of your calendars. If you have someone who regularly watches your children, you can invite them too so you’re not caught without anyone to take care of the kids. Or if you still use pen and paper, get all the dates on the master calendar that the whole family can see.
2. Monthly check-ins
Every month it’s important that you and your spouse sit down with your calendars for a check-in. You’ll already have major school events calendared. Now it’s time to see the monthly big picture. What do each of you have on your calendars that could impact managing the kids? Have a late meeting at work? Need to go on an out of town business trip? Have a doctor’s appointment?
Knowing the commitments each of you have for the month lets you anticipate how the weeks will go. You’ll know in advance if you’ll need some additional after school help with the kids. Or if you need help with pick up or drop off.
3. Weekly traffic meetings
While planning for the month is necessary, schedules in a busy household can change from one week to the next. That’s why it’s important every week to meet, look at what each of you have on your calendars and decide who’s doing what the next week.
Who will drop the kids off at school or make sure they get to the bus on time? Who’s in charge morning breakfasts? Who will make sure the kids are ready for school on time? Who will cook dinner? Who will be working late or having to leave the house early?
There may be other important tasks in your house. You may want to figure out exactly what you’ll have for dinner each night. Or who will pick the kids up from school. Add additional questions relevant to your family and for what works in your life.
Look at each of these for the entire week and figure out who’s doing what and on which days. As you’re dividing up the weekly tasks, put those in your calendars too. That way there’s no ambiguity about who’s doing what and when, and you can both have a smoother week.
The important thing is to treat these as important as any business meeting. Our weekly meeting is on our calendars, just like a meeting with a work colleague. Every Friday we either sit down or occasionally have our meeting on the phone if one of us is out. If Saturday or Sunday work better for you, then do it on one of those days. The point is that you should view these as non-negotiable. After all, you are discussing the most important business—the running of your family.
4. Create a system for the kids
While you and your partner will be more organized, helping the kids get organized helps you too. For us it’s stressful when we’re rushing to get out the door in the morning and one of the kids suddenly remembers they need us to read and sign something from the school. Or, by the way mom and dad, the check for the field trip is due today.
Surprises like these are not the fun kind. To eliminate them, we created a system. Each child has two slots in a mail organizer. Each slot is labeled for each child as “important” and “school work.” Important means the parents need to look quickly. And school work is for work they bring home to share with us. This way we know right away if there’s a permission slip or an important note from school we need to read.
But no system in the world will work unless the kids are taught to use it. If you ask our kids what they’re supposed to do when they come home from school, they’ll both tell you that the first thing they do is wash their hands, and the second is to unpack their backpack. Only after those tasks are done do they get an after-school snack.
We’ve almost completely eliminated the morning stress of having to sign a form we didn’t know about, which as parents, makes our job much easier.
5. Make your health a priority
Let’s face it, when you feel good everything’s better. You can enjoy your kids and your life more. Your mood is better. And if you’re taking care of yourself it will be much easier to take care of your family. So make your health a priority this school year.
The fact is, no matter how busy we all are, there’s always time to take care of your health.
Don’t want to go to the gym or don’t have a big block of time to work exercise into your day? Not a problem, read my article, 5 Simple Ways to Work Exercise into Your Life.
Want to emphasize nutrient-rich foods that give you the energy to tackle your day? Read my article, Top Alkaline Foods to Eat & Acid Foods to Avoid. And supplement your diet with Supreme Multivitamin to ensure you’re getting adequate nutrients to feel and be your best.
Need to improve your sleep. Read my article, Your Checklist to Beat Insomnia. Need a little extra help? Take Sleep Relief, the dietary supplement I created that helps people fall asleep, stay asleep and wake ready for their day.
I hope you have an amazing school year. And when you implement my 5 Back-to-School Survival Tips for Parents, it will. Your stress level will go down, your house will run smoother and you’ll have more time and energy to enjoy your kids and the incredible life stage they’re in.
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