My youngest child is starting kindergarten and, having gone through it once before, I know it will be tear-filled. Like lots of other Moms, I get extremely sentimental when my kids experience major milestones. But this isn't just their milestone, it's mine, too. For the first time, both of my kids will be in school full-time. This means better self-care (exercise is at the top of my list) and more time to explore some of my passions - art, photography, cooking.
I vividly remember bringing both of my children home from the hospital... and the countless diaper changes, birthdays, potty training, and many other milestones since. It is almost unbelievable to think that my son's first day of kindergarten is only two weeks away. One thing I know for sure, though, is that no matter how tough this will be for me emotionally, he will thrive. My sweet, quirky, sociable four year old wants to learn and play. He's ready for this.
My job now is to arm him with the right tools and training during the weeks leading up to school to ensure a smooth transition to the new schedule and environment.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Transition to the school year bedtime routine a few weeks beforehand
My kids often stay up later in the summertime, so we try to get back on track a few weeks before school starts. Do it in fifteen minute increments, over the span of two-three weeks so the transition doesn't seem so severe.
- Create traditions
When I was a kid, my Mom took us shopping for school clothes and supplies before each new school year, and our outings would always end with a treat. I carry on that tradition by setting aside a few hours to take each of my kids shopping individually, so we can have some one-on-one time together. But it doesn't have to be shopping - there are lots of things you could do to make this time of year special. It's all about creating wonderful memories associated with back-to-school.
Tip: I love the idea of taking a "first day of school" photo of each child, holding a cute sign showing their grade. When they're older, these photos can be compiled to make a great keepsake. There are lots of cute printable signs (like these) on our Back-To-School Pinterest board.
- Ask questions
It's important for me to talk to my kids about the new year and ask lots of questions to find out how they're feeling. I encourage them to ask questions, too, so I can put any fears / concerns to rest and ensure they're comfortable with the new routine.
- Stock up on supplies
Even if you're not the most organized Mom (like me), it's helpful to schedule a little bit of time to get supplies. Trust me, this will save your sanity so you're not rushing around like a mad woman the night before school starts! Click here for a great guide to what kids need, broken out by grade.
I also like to ensure I have lots of lunch options - containers in various sizes, reusable snack bags, an extra water bottle (for when you realize you forgot to run the dishwasher) - and stock up on easily portable school snacks in time for the first day. Tip: make a lunch list for each child before the year starts. Ask each child what items they'd like to take in their lunch. It cuts down on waste, they feel empowered and, in turn, there's a greater chance they'll actually eat what you send to school!
- Inquire about your school's food restrictions
Ensure you're familiar with your school's food allergy policy before the first day of school. Most schools are peanut-free zones, but some are completely nut-free or have other restrictions to keep kids safe. Call the office during the week leading up to school to inquire about the specifics for your child's class. Or, if your child has allergies, ensure that the school is well-versed in the particulars ahead of time so that the first day can be as stress-free as possible.
Tip: if you're looking for an easy way to alert teachers and caregivers of allergies, check out our durable allergy labels, tags and wristbands.
- Label everything
It goes without saying that the stuff you send to school isn't cheap. From school supplies to coats and shoes, it's a major investment. Labelling everything gives you added peace of mind that lost items (and there will be many!) will have a greater chance of being returned to you. Ever since I discovered Oliver's Labels five years ago, I have been obsessed with the Found-it™ system. I think it's the best thing since sliced bread... and one of the many reasons I'm so passionate about our products. It's innovative, exclusive and, best of all, FREE!
Tip: teachers have told me that they LOVE when everything is labeled. It makes their lives easier and saves them time, which means they can do more of what they love - teaching!
What are your tips for preparing for school? We'd love to hear them and share them with our community, so comment below or on any of our social media pages.