We know that “back to school” means different things to different homes. And we also know that depending on the age of your kids, it means different kinds of stresses, too. Check out some of the tips and tricks of our MaidPro Home Office staff to getting their kids (toddler- to college-aged!) and home ready for the school year!
KINDERGARTEN AND PRE-K — JAMES
For parents of young children, time is almost always in short supply. My wife and I often find it difficult to squeeze in important conversations while juggling all the demands at home. To make sending our kids back to school as smooth as possible, we hold a parent meeting to get on the same page. We drop off the kids for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday and go out for coffee to strategize.
Some of the things we cover are:
- What time is bedtime? — Summer tends to be looser and bedtimes can be less structured. Now is the time we want to get back on-track so the kids will be well rested for school.
- Who packs the school lunches?— We’ve got some picky eaters on our hands, so each kid gets something different based on preferences.
- Who makes breakfast? — See above.
- Who makes sure the kids are up and dressed on time for the bus? — The goal is to be ready at least five minutes before the bus arrives, so we don’t have a mad dash to get out the door.
After we answer these questions, we build out an agenda for our ideal school day. By the time our parent meeting wraps up, we have our school-day plan in place and are ready to start the school year stress free.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLERS — MELISSA
For a busy dual-income family, it’s all about pre-planning and online shopping! Especially with young kids, the overwhelming number of choices and distractions at brick and mortar stores can turn easy back-to-school purchases into all-day, id-fueled, tantrum-worthy debacles. When both parents work and precious weekend hours are already stretched thin with social and familial obligations, it’s critical to maximize errand efficiency and quality family time (who wants to ruin what should be a wonderful summer afternoon with your kids because Little Billy is still pouting over the over-priced, flimsy Spiderman backpack you refused to get him?). We allow our children to ask for themes (such as favorite colors or characters), then do our own research to narrow down to a few choices that fit our quality and budget. Then we let them select from a final set of options on a screen, rather than pitching a fit in aisle five.
We also keep a computer spreadsheet on school supplies, so we can refer back to it each year, adding as-needed changes, and amending as we learn from our experience (yes, your daughter will put more holes in her leggings at recess than you ever anticipated).
Finally, we invest not only in back-to-school supplies, but also in back-to-school organization tools – dedicated hooks or bins for backpacks, hanging closet organizers for planning outfits and debate-free dressing each day, and desk mail organizers for homework. When the whole family is busy working, studying, and attending after-school activities, giving everything a home is the only shot we have of keeping our house from looking like school exploded on it (and, no: a huge pile on the living room couch doesn’t count).
Some of the cheapest and simplest investments can make all the difference between a back-to-school family in chaos, and a working family that works!
MIDDLE SCHOOLERS — RICHARD
Family time has helped immensely with the mental preparation needed for the big transition from elementary into middle school.
As parents of twins, one favorite is a school fundraiser that allows us to purchase school supplies and have them delivered directly to our children’s classrooms on the first day of school. Supply lists are printable and usually available on school websites, or they can be found at stores such as Staples and Target. We like to start early so the kids will have plenty of choices. We will also be ordering new, high-quality backpacks from L.L.Bean or Land’s End; our twins have had the same backpacks since kindergarten, but they will be needing bigger ones for middle school!
With the exception of new sneakers, which are a must for back-to-school, we generally wait on clothes shopping until September or October as summer clothes will usually suffice for the first four weeks or so of school.
The transition from elementary to middle school has been weighing on all our minds for several months, but learning as much as possible – eliminating the unknowns – has helped to alleviate our fears. We have attended the Middle School’s orientation, toured the building, met the principal, and have a pretty good idea of what to expect. We also intend to take full advantage of the school’s website, PTO, and social media presence to stay informed about class assignments, events, important dates on the school calendear, and so forth.
Of course, we have been reviewing safety for middle schoolers with our twins, and will spend as much time as needed to talk through any remaining fears they might have about starting at a new school. School will come, but the goal right now is to enjoy these last days of summer!
HIGH SCHOOLERS — JACKIE
I have two children: a 16-year-old soon beginning grade 12, and a 12-year-old going into grade seven. They attend a charter school, so they have a short summer (last week of June to mid-August).
During our short summer, we try to keep them organized as much as we can, and working steadily on their summer homework packages.
The good news (for us parents) is that our children’s school require they wear uniforms, so once they have their summer work done and uniforms ready, we only need to shop for school supplies. We try to do this a little at a time every day so we don’t have a lot of things to do at the last minute (though, somehow, this always seems to happen anyway!).
HIGH SCHOOLERS WITH A SPECIAL-NEEDS CHILD — CHAPPY
Organization is key to a smooth back-to-school for a child with autism! The more we have things lined up and ready to go, the easier the transition is to a new year.
Get that closet ready! Since they grow like weeds every year, we start with a purge of old clothes, tossing anything with holes or impenetrable stains. Including children in this process is important so they know where those clothes went, and making a child change clothes on the morning of a school day after realizing their shirt is too small is a recipe for disaster!
We also make sure to remove all scratchy tags from new clothes (this is to avoid the child running around with scissors trying to remove them themselves). We organize drawers and closets to have all like clothes together (for different temperatures) for easy choosing.
We highly recommend using a six-box clothes hanging organizer for the closet. We use the weather app and, once a week have our child choose appropriate outfits for each upcoming school day. When they have a choice in their environment, they are much more likely to have no issues getting dressed and out the door in the morning.
COLLEGE STUDENTS — MARTIN
Getting ready for school with children in college is a different experience than when they were local and in grade school. Back then, it was all up to parents to ensure appropriate supplies and clothing were put together, and have the children all ready for when school starts. Now that they are young adults, we put more of the responsibility on them.
Toward the beginning of summer, my daughters create a checklist of everything they need to go back to school (they originally found the list online), and strive to find things throughout their time off when they are out and about. Unlike when they were in grade school, they need things for their dorms, such as bedding, kitchen stuff, detergent, medicines, shampoo, and food. They keep their checklists posted on the wall near their bedroom doors so they can see and make an effort to check something new off every day.
About a week before they leave, we assemble everything in our den to survey and ensure they have everything needed. Then the packing starts. Bins and suitcases are brought down from the attic and everything is put together like a puzzle.
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