It’s back-to-school time in Johns Creek and the Atlanta area and it can be a very hectic time for busy parents and kids who are not quite ready to hit the books for another school year. To help alleviate some stress, here are a few tips that I’ve learned after 12 years of back-to-school preparations. Organization is always the key to stress-free mornings.
Shop at odd times
Retail stores will be packed for days before AND after kids go back to school. Just when you think you have made your last back-to-school purchase, teachers send home long lists of additional supplies needed. The lines to check out at Staples can be 10-20 people deep, and parents are not too happy about it. To avoid the stress of long lines and disgruntled shoppers, try to shop right when the store opens or 30 minutes before it closes. The lines will be much shorter and you can get in and out in much less time.
Give yourself some private time in the mornings
Wake up early enough to jump in the shower and grab your first cup of coffee. That extra half hour will give you enough time to get fully awake and ready to face the day.
Pack up the night before
Mornings are not the time to rush around like a crazed person in search of missing homework, assignments or permission slips. After dinner, sit down with each child and discuss the needs for the next day. Make sure everything is in the right folder, and placed in the right backpack.
Waking-up the kids
For kids over the age of 8, purchase an alarm clock and show them how to set it for the right wake-up time. When a child accepts this responsibility, it eliminates the incessant whining from Mom to wake-up, only to say it again 10 minutes later. This works like a charm to eliminate day-after-day wake-up battles.
Make breakfast a breeze
Decide the evening before what the family will eat for breakfast and prepare whatever you can ahead of time. A great idea is to cut up several days of fruit and make a fruit salad. A bowl of healthy cereal, a few pieces of whole wheat toast, a glass of juice and a bowl of fruit is a good, healthy start to the day. Be sure to pre-program the coffeepot so it’s ready when you walk into the kitchen. To really save time, set the table the night before.
Make lunches the night before
Save some valuable time in the morning by making lunches the night before. Make sandwiches, place them in a lunch sack and add fruit or whatever else your kids like. In the morning, pull out the already made lunch, throw in an icepack, and you’re ready to roll.
Plan and layout all clothing
For smaller children, lay out their outfits the night before. Don’t forget the little things, like socks, hair bows, etc. Older kids can do this themselves. So much time is wasted arguing about clothes that are inappropriate for the weather or buried in the hamper. These battles are best fought the evening before to avoid time-consuming searches right before school. You’ll also avoid getting behind schedule and putting the family in a rotten mood.
Baths and showers at night
A warm bath or shower will relax your child and get him or her ready for sleep. In the mornings, too much time can be wasted arguing over the bathroom, and it’s too easy to fall behind schedule when showers are taken in the morning.
Discuss the day’s activities the night before
After school activities should be discussed at the dinner table the night before. If an activity happens right after school, make sure your child packs whatever will be needed right after dinner. Decide who will be the drop-off and pick-up person and make sure each child knows the plan for the next day. Write all activities on a master calendar so that you can review the entire week at a glance.
A place for everything and everything in its place
Have one central area near the door for backpacks, shoes, coats, scarves, etc. You can set-up mini lockers below a pegged rack, and assign and label an area for each child. Don’t forget to place your keys in the same place every night. You’ll start the day off on a sour note if you have to frantically search for keys in the morning when the car is loaded and ready to go.
The following Atlanta school systems start school on Monday, Aug. 13, (if not listed, they started earlier): Clayton County, Cobb County, DeKalb County, Fayette County, and Fulton County.
Best wishes for a successful and stress-free school year!