Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
There’s something about summer mornings - free of the pressures of getting to school on time. Even if you have to get children ready for camp, there is an ease about morning readiness. I love the weeks when my children aren’t in camp, and we can stay up late the night before; they can sleep as long as they’d like; and stay in pajamas until morning crosses over into afternoon.
No matter how summer days are filled – with loads of freedom and emptiness, with summer camp, or with travel – anticipating the first days of school can be filled with emotion, both for mom and for our children. A few weeks before school starts, I like to start thinking about the year ahead. This is a good time to begin transitioning children back to a more structured schedule. It’s a great time to shop for school supplies, as there are sales galore! And, one must not forget to take a look at her children’s wardrobes in case there are items needing to be replaced.
Sleep One of the most difficult transitions from summer to school is sleep patterns. In the summer, we tend to stay up later and sleep longer. But, school necessitates waking at a certain time. It’s a good idea to start adjusting your children’s bedtimes at least a couple of weeks before school begins. That will give you enough time to ease into your school year routine, and it will give your children’s bodies plenty of time to adjust to different sleep patterns.
Clothes By the end of summer, I am amazed at how much my children have grown. Sweat pants and jeans are three inches off the ground. There are holes and mud stains I didn’t seem to notice all summer long. It’s time to hit the stores for bargain items, and if you start a few weeks before school starts – you’ll have time to shop around for deals and you’ll be ready for the first day of school.
Frame of Mind I have a couple of children for whom the adjustment back to school is a bit bumpy. You can see their nerves popping through in their behavior and their moods. Because of this, we start talking about and anticipating school a couple of weeks prior. It’s overwhelming for an introvert to go back to a room full of classmates, the busy schedule of the school day, and to maneuvering the additional challenges that school day interactions can bring. We definitely attend the “meet the teacher” set up before the first day of school.
School Supplies If you don’t already, I’d recommend following some frugal-living bloggers. If driving to a few different stores doesn’t bother you, a lot of money can be saved on school supplies. I find the stores are usually not that far away from each other anyway. By following these frugal living blogs, I am made aware of who has the deals, and when they are being offered. Many stores will now honor coupons or deals from other stores (Walmart, for example, will give you the lower price that their competitor is offering you) so that makes shopping even easier if you’ve done your homework.
Carpools and Extra-Curricular Activities If you drive your children to school, now is a good time to set up school year carpools. Many of us still have one child in preschool while our other children are in elementary or middle school. Mornings are made easier if you can find a friend with whom you can carpool. Think of all the saved time that will add up by the end of the year.
In addition to carpooling to school, it’s also time to think about any extra-curricular activities your children may be involved in. Juggling children’s various after-school activities can be frustrating. I make sure not to overschedule my children, but – even so - I make a conscious effort to avoid overlapping their different activities. I was thrilled when my youngest son became interested in karate, an activity my oldest son also participates in.
Time In the summer, moms become used to getting less done, putting some tasks on the back burner, and enjoying the extra time with their children. When school starts, mom also has some adjusting to do. What are you going to do with your “extra time”? Do you volunteer at school? How will you work that into your daily schedule? What other changes will occur in your daily rhythm? What habits do you need to develop or recreate in order to master your schedule? Summer is like a giant siesta; everything seems slower and not as urgent. Even our volunteer positions in the community require less of us. Anticipate how things are going to pick up and where your time and energy will be needed.
Going back to school is a time filled with exhilaration, anticipation, nervousness and uncertainty. Mom’s conscious approach to the beginning of the school year will ensure that she is on top of organization and her children are mentally and physically prepared for all the school year will bring.