This year, we want you to THRIVE-- not just survive-- during the back-to-school season. Here are 7 savvy survival tips that we think could help you navigate the hectic times with some panache.
Survival Tip #1: Back to School Budget
Create a back to school budget. Review classroom supply lists. Take the time to assess any needs such as backpacks, lunch boxes, instrument tuning, athletic equipment, etc. Go through their wardrobes and determine what clothing needs your kiddos may have. Account for any lessons or extra-curricular activity expenses.
Survival Tip #2: Get Your Calendar In Order
Develop a calendar system that works for you. There are apps like Cozi that allow you to create and share a calendar that can be accessed from both your smartphone and computer. And, of course, there is always Google.
Survival Tip #3: Doctor’s Appointments
Remember to gather immunization records if your school requires them. While you're at it, pre-schedule doctor appointments, athletic physicals, dental appointments, and eye doctor visits. Scheduling in advance often means you can select the days and times that are most convenient for you. We like to schedule all of our doctor appointments-- for all the kids-- on the same day. I take off work, the kids take off of school, and we go to our appointments, enjoy a family lunch, and make a trip to the park in between.
Survival Tip #4: Self-Care
Build me-time and, if you’re in a relationship, couple-time into your schedule. Figure out when you can get to yoga class, meet friends for lunch, play golf, read a book, enjoy date night, get a manicure, etc. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your children. They need you healthy, strong, and in the right frame of mind.
Survival Tip #5: Strategy Meeting
Schedule a strategy meeting with your spouse, partner, or the person with whom you co-parent. Review the calendar. Discuss scheduling issues and solutions. Make sure that your game plan allows for some me-time and couple-time to relieve the stress associated with drop-offs, pick-ups, before-care, after-care, extra-curricular activities, birthday parties, sick days, feeding your family, and more.
You may also want to utilize this time to review your family budget and back to school expenses.
Survival Tip #6: Meal Planning
Parents, if you don't currently Meal Plan, than we want to introduce you to your new best friend. Meal Planning takes some time. You need to think about meals, likes, dislikes, write your shopping lists, and purchase your groceries. However, it can ultimately make your mornings and evenings flow much more smoothly while reducing your stress levels. Our recommendations are:
Breakfast: Plan what breakfast options you will offer. If you deal with a tough morning commute, are your children going to eat a cereal bar and piece of fruit in the car with a cup of milk? Or, do you have time to sit down together at the breakfast table and enjoy a bowl of oatmeal or eggs and toast? Decide what makes the most sense for your family.
Lunches: Know what lunches you will pack. We recommend ensuring there is a protein, a vegetable, a fruit, a carbohydrate, and a calcium-rich or dairy item. If you have picky eaters or allergies in your house, it can be helpful to have color coded lunch boxes-- especially if your kids are pre-readers.
Dinners: Curate crock-pot meals (thank you, Pinterest!) and pre-make meals that can be frozen and thawed. The crock-pot allows you to whip-up delicious meals quickly in the morning that are ready to eat the moment you walk in the door at night. Pre-made meals that are frozen and then thawed allows both you and the kids to decompress after a long day while dinner cooks in the oven. Let's not forget the beauty of delivery and take-out. I love ordering out one night a week so that everyone can relax and spend a little extra time together talking, playing a board game or watching a movie. You can build it into your calendar and your budget!
Survival Tip #7: Get Organized
Know how you want to control clutter. Set-up your in-house pick-up and drop spot for backpacks, shoes, coats, umbrellas, and paperwork. Make sure your kiddos know what goes where and what is expected of them. Have a designated homework location. Keep a writing pad on the refrigerator or similar location where you and the children can write down grocery needs as they come up.
Onward, Brave Parents!