As the start of September looms so does the annual return to school, however for many of us this year it will be the first time in months that our kids will be heading to school. Whilst every year we all hope and do our best to make the back to school transition as smooth and stress-free as possible I feel it’s even more pressing to make sure things go without a hitch this September as we all re-adjust to the new ‘normal’. Therefore I thought I’d share a few of my tips for making that first day back as hassle-free as possible, based on over a decade of school runs with my own children.
Lists are every parents best friend and if you aren’t a list-maker then what better time to start than in the run up to the school return. I usually start my lists as the school year finishes, however with every day feeling like Groundhog Day at the moment I was rather late in starting mine! Firstly, make sure you write a comprehensive list of the all the uniform and school supplies your child needs; even down to the types of pens and pencils required ( I know my teenagers need specific ones!). It’s useful to check out the school’s website, communication app and emails whilst compiling your list to ensure you don’t miss any essentials.
Once I have my list I usually make notes of where I will be buying the items; for instance a lot of the uniform I get from shops like M&S or supermarkets as over the years I have discovered which items work best and last for our family. However, the teenagers have to wear logo jumpers and PE kits which can only be ordered from a certain shop. It’s also worth noting if you school uniform has to be ordered in advance from the school or from an online store and if that’s the case make sure they feature near the top of the list.
Other things that appear on my list are buying name labels and also the dreaded task of washing, ironing and actually labelling the uniform!
I know during the Summer in our house the routine goes out the window! Meal times are erratic and don’t even get me started on the bedtime routine! So what better time to implement change than now? Rather than having the huge upheaval of trying to change things the day before the kids return to school, try and tweak your routine in the week or so beforehand. Try and make sure you get up and dressed earlier if you are a fan of lazy mornings, or plan to eat meals at a more structured time that reflects the average school day. If you do it little by little it will definitely make the difference and won’t be such a difficult adjustment.
When I’m organised I feel so much more in control of any situation and my kids definitely appreciate it too. In the last few days of the back to school countdown I make sure I check all of the kids equipment in case I have missed that all important protractor! An extra check of your email is also advisable in case of any last minute changes and also to familiarise yourself with arrangements; especially this year when many schools have had to modify their timetables.
Also be sure to make arrangements for lunches; order school dinners, make sure you top up dinner cards or have the right change available to give your child. If your child has packed lunches why not make yourself a ‘menu’ for the first week at least to take some of the ‘think’ and stress out!
With older children it’s always worth checking to see that they have completed and are up to date with any work set for the Summer as the last thing you want is a stressed teenager realising they’ve missed something vital the evening before school starts!
Finally, and probably most importantly, have everything organised and ready to go the evening before. Have each child’s uniform, down to the underwear, laid out and ready to out on with all the bags, shoes and coats by the door ready to grab and go!
Before school starts ensure you discuss with your child the expectations and timetable for the first day back i.e. what time they will have to wake up, if they need to get their own breakfast or packed lunch ready etc. Also it’s important to discuss things like who your child’s teacher will be (if they have a new one), where the classroom will be, which entrance to use etc, this will help your child feel more relaxed and confident in their return to school and hopefully help calm any first day nerves or meltdowns before they occur.
This year in particular with all the changes Covid-19 has brought it will be important to discuss the expectations of the school with regards to arrival times, hand washing, social distance etc.