This article originally appears in the 8/10/11 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series.
While this back to school season is the time for a mother like me to celebrate, it is also the time of year when I get quite serious about my organization. Returning to school isn't just about getting the kids ready for the classroom. Us parents have to do some preparation at home as well.
We always prepare for the new year with school supply checklists making sure to purchase the tools our children need for school success but parents could do well to create their own sort of checklist according to the website http://www.listproducer.com/.
If you are anticipating purchasing new clothes for the upcoming school year it would be helpful to put "Organize Closet" at the top of your To-do list. Kids these day's practically grow out of their clothes overnight. Is your child's closet ready for the new school year? How do you know what to buy if you don't know what they've grown out of? Before hitting the stores organize your kid's closets. Remove items that are too worn or too small and take an inventory of what is really needed. You could save yourself quite a bit of money when you avoid buying items you don't really need.
In addition, an organized closet will increase the likelihood of a smoother morning routine. Store your child's clothes in such a way that anyone, mom or child, can find what they are looking for in the morning rush. This may require rearranging things. Younger children can't be expected to dress themselves if they can't reach their sock drawer. And teaching children to get dress on their own is a huge milestone in independence and self care, a goal families should be aiming for when raising their children.
That's why "Alarm Clocks" are second on my To-do list this fall. The sooner I can teach my kids to wake up on their own the better it will be for all of us. Even very young children can be taught to use digital face clocks.
We will be using the week before school begins to practice waking to the alarm. For the sake of world peace and harmony I cannot be responsible for making sure each of my five kids are awake. Why? Because if it is my job to wake them and if they were to be late to school, it would be my fault they were tardy. But if I teach them how to wake up and be responsible for themselves if they are late to school, it is of their own doing. I will create an atmosphere in my home that allows for each of my children to be successful but ultimately they must take responsibility for themselves. That and I'm not much of a morning person myself.
Thirdly, parents should "Check immunization and medical records" to make sure that their students have all the necessary and required forms for registration. Dentists, optometrists and pediatricians offices can be backed up this time of year with families who've delayed physicals. Schedule any appointments as soon as possible. Children who do not have the required medical information can be pulled out of school and sent home which of course is a huge buzz kill when you've just begun celebrating their return to school!
And since we are talking about scheduling appointments, don't forget to add "Family Calendar" to your checklist. A good calendar, whether on your refrigerator or online, is an extremely helpful tool this time of year. Take the time to write in school holidays and events. Be the first to schedule daycare if you need it for no attendance days. Don't forget to pick up a sports schedule as well, especially if you have older children. Game nights can alter after school or dinner routines. Make note of those days now so you can be better prepared later.
Also make your sure you have current emergency phone numbers and contacts for the school to reach you or a family member. Enter school numbers and important information like class schedules into your smart phone to keep all information with you at all times.
Get your home ready today by preparing a "Homework Spot". When buying school supplies pick up a few extra to store at home. No more excuses from your child that they can't complete a homework assignment because they left their ruler in their desk. I also recommend picking up poster board when school supply shopping. Inevitably, on a cold winter's night when a project is due, you're child will urgently announce they need it and you, prepared parent can whip out a brand new piece. Dilemma diverted!
Finally, make your own space at home where you can keep all the important information your children bring you. Due dates, permission slips, lunch money receipts and class schedules need to be in a handy location. Nothing is worse than those inevitable rushed mornings where you hectically search your house for a tiny piece of information.
No amount of preparation can eliminate all morning chaos this school year but with a little preparedness parents can greatly decrease stress. It's true, a little extra work now can create a more pleasant morning environment later. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!