As Summer is making its way out the door, it means that the school year is just around the corner, so let’s take stock of our perceptions about what back to school could mean for your family. Do you remember in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when the students are all sitting in their High School classroom, eyes glazed over, mouths open in boredom, everyone clearly not wanting to be there? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your kids will be just like that! The start of the school year doesn’t have to be a chore or a dread. It can be a transition full of ease, flow, and even excitement. If you’re a little skeptical of this concept, let us help you see the possibility more clearly by offering our top three back to school tips for how to help smooth over this sometimes rocky annual transition.
Start the school routine early
One key component of the back to school transition is the actual change in routine. Many kids have a fairly free schedule during the summer, or a shortened, more flexible schedule, at least. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that it can be a pretty jarring switch to all of a sudden have to wake up early and spend all day in a classroom. Furthermore, if your child has any additional needs, or if you’re a dual home family and your parenting plan is changing at the start of the school year, it can become an even higher stress situation for them. One way to limit this stress for the kiddos is to start their school schedule early! Begin the school year wake-up and bedtime routine a week or two before school begins, to get them back into the habit and to make it less of a big deal on the first day of school.
With a significant transition like going back to school, our mental health can be affected, and understandably so. However, we can reduce the negative impact it has on us by processing the transition ahead of time and mentally preparing for it. You can lend a hand in this, just by sparking some good conversation. Remember us encouraging “table talk” topics for your family meals? You can use that ritual as an opportunity to talk with your family about the upcoming school year. Some ideas for table talk questions: what was your favorite part about your experience at school last year? What’s one thing you’re really excited about for this school year? Questions like those will get them thinking about the upcoming school year in a positive light, and might also bring up some of their concerns, which can be good to discuss as well.
Let us help you! Make dinner time something that doesn’t stress you out this time of the year. Plan ahead to have Dream Dinners and/or other quick and easy meal options for your family in the week leading up to the beginning of school, as well as during the first week of classes. Schedule time a couple of weeks before the school year to do some meal planning and buy any groceries you’ll need, then put the meal list of what you have planned up in your house so your family can see what’s coming and when. Plan some of your family’s favorites too, to help everyone have some comfort foods to look forward to during this potentially chaotic time of year.
One common thread with all three tips? The three P’s: Prepare, Plan, and Prepare some more! Be intentional about your back to school transition. A little planning can go a long way to keeping your whole family happy, amidst the change of pace and schedule. The bottom line is, you got this!
In the hustle and bustle of vacation season, we tend to spend most of our time preparing for takeoff; buying sunscreen and bug repellent, reserving the rental car, finding ticket deals on excursions, the list goes on. Although once the vacation is over, part of the “post-vacation blues” is that we often come back to a big mess that was left behind in the frenzy of preparing for the trip! Do yourself and your family a favor this year, and set aside some time before you leave to plan for your return, too. Here are some post-trip planning ideas to get you started!
Clean the house
Leave for vacation with a clean, tidy home! It’ll make your return so much easier. If you run out of time to take care of all the cleaning and tidying yourself, hire a local cleaning service to do the job for you, which can likely be done in one visit when you’re already on your vacation. Or if you only have time and budget to do a few things yourself, starting the dishwasher before you go and making the beds are two small tasks that you’ll thank yourself for when you get back.
Bring a laundry bag on your trip
Coming back home and sorting through all your clothes to do the laundry can be tedious, so lessen the work by packing a laundry bag with you. You can put your dirty clothes into the laundry bag as you go, and when you get home, there won’t be any guesswork or sorting required. Easy peasy!
Lay out your work clothes for the next day after vacation, and clothes for the kids’ next day plans
Let’s face it; you’ll likely be tired when you get home. And no matter the time of day it is that you walk through the door, we suspect you won’t be too thrilled about taking care of all the details to prepare for going back to everyday life the next day. To lend your future tired self a hand, before you leave for vacation: iron your work clothes and hang them up, set out your shoes, have your work bag ready – whatever it is that will help you be more prepared and less stressed. For the kids, you can set out clothes and shoes for daycare if that’s where they’ll be going, or an overnight bag if they’re headed to another relative or their other parent’s home upon return.
Freeze some Dream Dinners meals, so they’re ready for you when you get back
No need to worry about what you’re going to eat when you walk into the house, hungry and tired from travel. Have some Dream Dinners meals frozen and ready to go! If you have a few options, you’ll be able to take a quick glance and choose something that is fast, easy, and a crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Having one make-from-frozen meal front and center in the freezer will make things even easier. Or, if you have someone watching your pets or house-sitting, ask them to take a few meals out to thaw the day before you get home. No need to discuss where to order take-out from, and then be at the mercy of the wait and delivery time. We got you covered!
Plan something fun to do within the next week after you’re back home
We mentioned it before, but post-vacation blues are a real thing. Post-trip planning can help! Parents and kids alike can feel down when returning from a great trip, back into the routine of our everyday lives. Before you go, you can be proactive about this by planning something to look forward to once you’re home again. Maybe a relaxed family and friend game night the following week, a trip to the zoo the next weekend, or tickets to see an anticipated movie. Having a fun event already planned will help you stay on the vacation high, rather than having the blues sneak up on you.
We hope these post-trip planning ideas are helpful for you and your family! Are there other things that you and your crew do before leaving on vacation that have proved super useful? Let us know! Share them with us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), so we can all learn from each other about how to make our vacation transitions even better. If you’re heading out on a vacation soon, bon voyage! And if you’re just returning from a trip, welcome home! Wherever you are in the process, we hope you’re having a happy, healthy summer.
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Also makes for a great high value gift this season.
A few tips to sharpen your listening skills
Rearrange the letters in the word LISTEN into a word that describes how you should be when someone is talking. The answer is SILENT. Almost everyone thinks they are good listeners, but more often than not, many of us want to chime in with a solution, judgment, an answer or story of our own before who we are talking with even get to finish. This can leave feelings of frustration and may cause the other person to be less likely to listen to you.
As moms, teaching our children manners is part of the job. Unfortunately, technology has changed the game – and Emily Post isn’t much help in 2010.
Example? Two of my four children (ages 15 and 13) have cell phones and Facebook accounts. (Our third doesn’t understand why she cannot have both, and our youngest is blissfully oblivious.) Even though my older kids earned those “privileges” and lose them if certain expectations aren’t met, it’s tough for me as a mom to know how to integrate technology in an appropriate, respectful way in our family.