My summer holiday planning tends to go something like this in my head:
“Tra la la la la! Plenty of time to think about the summer holidays yet, it’s only the beginning of July… GAH…. HANG ON!!!”
The start of term sneaks up on my in similar way. ‘Buy new school shoes’ is on my mental list for weeks, and then suddenly it’s the last weekend in August and I’m in a 27 strong queue of parents in my local shoe shop.
Getting back into the swing of things after a holiday, or even starting school for the first time, can be pretty stressful for everyone, so to make the process go as smoothly as possible, here are my top five tips:
Schedule time early in the holidays for homework
That feeling of breaking up for the summer is awesome, but it’s not quite so awesome to get to August 31st and realise you have a project to do, all about the life of newts, that you haven’t even started. Schedule some time at the beginning of the holidays to get all your homework done and out of the way so that you can enjoy your summer without the project blues hanging over everyone.
Don’t leave uniform shopping until the last minute
Please, if I can only share one word of wisdom from the 15 odd summer holidays I have parented my way through so far, it would be to not leave it until the day before term starts to be traipsing round the supermarkets looking for the right colour school jumper or the required shade of PE shorts. Invest in decent quality, and look out for features that will save you time and effort long term, like non iron or stain resistant clothing. A lot of Marks and Spencer’s school uniform for example has their StayNEW™ technology, which helps reduce bobbling and colour loss.
Get your kids involved in the packed lunch process
Packed lunches are one of my Worst Things, and I love my fiancé about 17% more than I otherwise might since he has taken on the packed lunch duties. To minimise the risk of emptying half eaten sandwiches into the bin every day at 4pm, get your kids involved in the packed lunch process – take them shopping to choose items they like to eat, have them grow their own cress; anything you can do that generates a feeling of involvement can make them more likely to actually then eat what they’re given. The sooner you can have them making the whole thing themselves the better.
Readjust to early nights and mornings
This one is really tough in our house, as left to her own devices Belle would sleep from about 11pm to 11am every night. As you can imagine, having to get up at 7am on the first day of term does NOT go down well. To try and avoid this, try to readjust to regular bedtimes and waking times in the final week of the holidays if you can. Plenty of physical activity during the day will help to wear them out, and bringing forward waking up times gradually can make the jolt into back to school mode less severe.
Plan things to look forward to
To create a light at the end of the tunnel, plan some activities during term time to look forward to, so that it doesn’t just feel like a desert of homework and assemblies until Christmas. You can add to the effect here by deliberately making the last few days of the holidays tedious, to encourage the children to look forward to getting back to school and having something to do.
What are your top back to school tips?