Tips on how to navigate through the school year

It is that time of year again…are you ready? 

It’s mid-September! Parents, are you struggling to keep up with packing school lunches, homework help, balancing work life, etc? Perhaps you are having trouble with finding ways to transport your kids around or need to make a solo grocery store run. How will you navigate through the school year smoothly? How will you juggle carpools, sports practices, multi-school pick-up/drop-offs? Who will handle school lunches? PTA meetings?

Here are some tips and advice to help you with a successful school year both at school and in the home. I have one word for you. Routine. 

Calendars/charts for school-aged kids. Post timelines and color-coded calendars on the refrigerator. Chances are, everybody in your family will pay a visit or two to the fridge on a daily basis. They are bound to see what’s to come. Have each kid choose their favorite color so that he/she can easily identify their activities. Print out a calendar of events on a weekly basis. Who needs to go where at what time? Who will he/she ride with for carpool? What do they need to pack?

Alarm Clocks. Purchase an alarm clock for each child. Place the alarm clock away from arm’s distance so that when it goes off in the morning, they are forced to get out of bed to turn it off (if desired). Set it 15 minutes before they need to actually start getting ready.

Buy extra supplies. Keep a stash in a designated drawer. Imagine a mini Office Depot in your home. Project due tomorrow? How nice would it be to not have to make last minute trips to purchase supplies? Buy extra pens, #2 pencils, notebooks, presentation covers, poster boards and printer ink/paper. If you have the space, designate a drawer or cabinet for the school supplies near the homework station or simply stash them in your garage for when you need it. They can use it for years to come, so it would not be a waste

Snack-prep. Mimic a set-up of a grocery store. Have a snack aisle in your pantry. You know how body builders and gym enthusiasts often meal-prep on Sundays? They would prepare a large meal enough for the entire week, portion it out in separate containers, and grab-and-go throughout the work week? You can do the same for snacks and lunch items! Purchase items in bulk or large sizes and place them in reusable containers or zip-lock bags. Designate one drawer in the fridge/pantry for grab-and-go snacks. Maybe you can even purchase containers in his/her favorite color so that each kid knows what to grab. This will make packing school lunches much easier in the morning.

Plan Ahead. Post a weekly menu. Create some sort of routine or theme to make week night dinners a breeze:

  • Meatless Monday
  • Taco Tuesday
  • Wing Wednesday
  • Thin-crust pizza Thursday
  • Fried chicken Fridays

Alternatively, think of ways to utilize everything that you have to eliminate food waste. For example, purchase a couple of rotisserie chickens and have a chicken leg dinner that night. Shred the chicken breasts and place it in a container. Save the skin and bones and place it in a separate container. Over the next 2 days, use the shredded chicken and add it to quesadillas, salads, sandwiches, etc. Take the skin and bones and make your own chicken broth for chicken noodle soup. This way, you are not putting anything to waste.

Label. Purchase a label maker and label everything in sight. This way, your kids cannot say, “I don’t know where it goes” because guess what, they do now!

Go when it is not as crowded. Chances are, you probably need to make a gas station stop at least once a week. Why not go when it’s not as busy? Most drivers tend to go before or after work–the lines can sometimes get pretty ridiculous. If your schedule allows, try to go in the late morning or early afternoons. The same goes for grocery shopping.

Source it out. Nobody says that you need to be the perfect parent. After all, we are not super human and there are only so many hours in a day. It is okay to source things out. No time to shop? Make a list and sign up for a service to get someone to shop for and deliver the groceries for you. Need a break from cooking? Sign up for a ready-to-serve meal service. Perhaps you cannot work out a schedule to pick up and drop off your kids. Hire a driver or sign up for the school bus. Nowadays, there are endless ways to make your life easier. Take advantage of it.

Remember, parenting is not an easy thing to juggle alongside work. Prepare in advance, stick to routines/schedules, and always have back-ups. If possible, source it out. What are some of your tips and tricks to a healthy and organized home life? Please share them with us!

Best wishes and happy school year!

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