By Anam Lone @theinspiredaccountant
It feels like just yesterday when I made that last school lunch of the year and celebrated the end of my daughter’s first ever school year. Well, here we are – it’s mid-August and school starts in about two weeks! I think just about every parent is asking – where did the time go?
The start of the school year can be somewhat overwhelming. It comes with new routines, lots of shopping, mountains of paperwork, and monthly calendars full of events to keep track of – all while making sure your regular house chores, cleaning and cooking gets done.
But not to worry! The good news is that these stressful times can be managed with some good planning. To make sure your kid(s)’ transition back to school is as smooth as possible, here are five tips I’ve put together to help you feel more under control:
1. Establish Routines
Perhaps the first thing we think about when we hear “school routine” are the hectic evenings. While older kids can manage their schedules fairly well, parents of little ones definitely have to pay close attention to how their kids spend time after school and when they get to bed. If you give some thought to routines beforehand, it can make your evenings more predictable and less overwhelming, especially in those first few weeks.
Here is an example of an after-school routine you could implement:
3:00 – 3:30 pm – Getting home from school
3:30 – 4:00 pm – Snack Time
4:00 – 5:00 pm – After-school activities or classes
5:00 – 6:00 pm – Homework time
6:00 – 7:00 pm – Dinner time and clean-up
7:00 – 7:30 pm – Bath time
7:30 – 8:00 pm – Reading or other relaxing activity
8:00 – 8:30 pm – Get ready for bed
I would say that everything on this list is pretty standard for most families. Having pre-determined time slots helps because you don’t have to actively think about what to do next. Some families like to have the schedule up on a board and displayed in the kitchen or family area. The kids slowly but surely catch on to it, making it better for everyone.
2. Organize your Home
Before the new fast-paced routine kicks in, take some time to get your home organized.
- Invest in a large family calendar that can help you keep track of after-school activities, appointments and special events.
- Kids get excited organizing their new school supplies, so get them to help you designate distraction-free spaces for homework. Talk to them about how to sit and finish their homework everyday. Keep a bin for library books that will be coming in to avoid losing them.
- If you didn’t get a chance to organize closets over the summer, now is the time to do so. Donate clothes and shoes that no longer fit your growing kids, and make space for all the new shopping you’re doing and will be doing as the seasons change.
- Designate a spot where you keep all the school forms so you can sign and send them back to school. You can use this spot to keep your child’s monthly class calendar as well, and it is especially helpful if you have multiple kids.
3. Prepare School Lunches in Advance
I don’t know about you, but packing lunches is one of the chores that I dread. When it’s 7 am in the morning and you are trying to get yourself and/or your kids dressed and make it out of the house in time, the last thing you can do is come up with healthy lunch ideas. To avoid sending your kids with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school everyday, spend some time over the weekend to prepare meals in advance. You can use a mix of fresh and frozen Zabiha Halal products for meal ideas. The key is to use perishable items at the start of the week, while keeping fresher items for later in the week. Set up an assembly line on Sunday evening and pack lunches for the week in one go. Alternately, you can do this the night before. This makes your mornings very efficient and as you run out the door, you thank yourself for having done this. Take these last few weeks to make some meal preparation calendars for your family. Watch out for our upcoming blogpost on some easy and healthy school lunch ideas here on the Living Halal Blog!
4. Plan before you Shop
I’m sure you have seen that back-to-school sales start as early as July! It is easy to see all the deals and pick items up as you make your trips to the mall in the summer, however if you organize your home and kids’ closets in advance (as suggested in Tip # 2), you will be able to make smarter choices about what you need.
Develop a list of things each child needs and keep it handy (on your phone or on the fridge). This way, these items can be top of mind, helping you shop for necessities instead of buying on impulse or without a plan. Another great idea is to get your kids involved when making their list. This helps them think about what they need as well, and hopefully keeps those mid-aisle floor tantrums at bay.
5. Prepare school outfits for the week
This one is a bit unusual, but has worked really well for me in the past. Try to get in the habit of preparing one week’s worth of school outfits in advance. Every Sunday, when putting away the laundry, I take 10 minutes to check the weather forecast and put outfits together accordingly. I bundle them up (pants, shirts, hoodies etc.) and leave them in one part of the closet/drawer where I can just grab them from Monday to Friday. If your child is picky about what they wear, perhaps you can get them involved in this process as well. Personally, I have found that this saves me so much time in the morning as I don’t have to think or go digging in their closet for separate items and put an outfit together. It simplifies yet another morning task!
I hope you find these tips useful! To follow along my journey over this upcoming school year, make sure you are tuning in to my stories over at @theinspiredaccountant on Instagram. As well, download these awesome first day of school templates to help capture memorable first day photos with your kids. Together, we can all support each other as we enter a new school year and make wonderful memories with our kids.