As a former teacher, every year I would get nervous as the first day of school neared. On the eve of the first day of school, I would anxiously review my plans, make sure I had my bags packed the night before (including coffee), and go to bed early. As a mother, I now want to ensure my child’s first day and weeks back to school are tear free (for everyone). In order to stay sane and organized, here are five easy steps to help make the back-to-school transition as stress free as possible!
Start a Morning and Evening Routine
Two weeks before school starts, begin putting a routine in place. Decide upon bedtimes and stick to them! Practice waking up at a specific time, and go through what the mornings will look like (i.e. wake-up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed etc.). Make sure your child knows what to expect each morning. Depending upon age, it may be helpful to put up a small chart that illustrates the morning tasks. I personally love this chart; it’s a great visual for younger kids. It is simple and allows the kids to take ownership of their daily duties. Melissa and Doug also sells a magnetic chore chart (pictured below) that is a great visual for younger kids.
My oldest will be starting Pre-K this fall, and he loves to pick out his own clothes. Sometimes they match, more than often they do not. In fact, last Sunday for church he chose to wear bright blue shorts, a chunky woven sweater and sandals. In order to keep him for sweating to death I had to explain what is appropriate to wear when its 98 degrees outside. Each Sunday night WE (I say we because I have to remember that this is not about me and that if he wants to wear his Star Wars t-shirt instead of a polo, then I should let him) will spend a few minutes going through his clothes and deciding what is appropriate to wear. Afterward, we assemble the outfits and arrange them in a hanging organizer labeled with days of the week. Even though he is only going to part-time Pre-K, I am hoping that this dissolves any fits or meltdowns about clothing. Side note: Parents of uniform-wearing kiddos, this could still work for you. I wore uniforms growing up, and even as a teen I always struggled to find the specific sweater I wanted etc.
Decide Meals for the Week Ahead of Time
This is more for me than my kid. I wish I could say that I go to the store once a week and return home with everything I need, but I don’t. Ever. I typically text a neighbor to see if she has a jar of spaghetti sauce or can of corn. This is why I plan to use a calendar to keep track of what my kids are taking for lunch when they are eating at school. Since mornings are especially chaotic for us, I also plan on pre-making and freezing meals for breakfast. One of my favorite go-to (healthyish) breakfast items is mini omelet muffins. Clearly these are delicious, my oldest son grabbed one before I could take a pic!
I love reading to my kiddos. Books can be a great way to communicate feelings to kids. Here are some of my favorite books to read the night before school starts. I get JUST as anxious/excited as my kids do and I find reading helps address any feelings my kiddos may have.
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. I used to read this on the first day of school to my precious first graders. This is a sweet book that helps ease any fears about starting school. (Grades pre-k-2nd)
- Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. A fantastic book to read if your child is a worrier or gets anxious about new situations. (Grades pre-k-2nd)
- The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. Great for discussing what’s “important” to remember for the first day of school, ex: be kind, be polite, listen to the teacher etc… (Grades pre-k-3rd )
- The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing. A funny book that will help ease first day jitters. The author has also written The Night Before Pre-School and The Night Before First Grade.
- The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. A great book to read if your child is starting a new school or has a unique name. (Grades 1st-5th)
Discuss Expectations and Fears
I find it best to simply talk about the first day/week of school with my kids. I begin explaining that school is exciting and that they will learn so much, make friends, etc. In addition, I make time to answer any questions my kids might have. Discussing the first day can help calm any fears or anxiety that might exist for your kids and your mama heart.
Starting the first week of school will always have it’s challenges. Inevitably, someone will lose their shoes, or forget their lunch, but placing a few of the afore-mentioned strategies into the mix will definitely make for an easier transition for everyone.