For some parents, the end of summer signals a welcome return to consistency and structure, while for others the flexibility of summer is hard to let go. Whether you embrace or dread back-to-school time, moms and dads across the metro agree this season leaves most of our families harried and overwhelmed. Local moms share tips, tricks and lessons learned in the hopes of us all surviving (dare we dream to say thriving?) our kids’ return to the classroom.
Preparing for back-to-school jitters
My kids have pretty extreme anxiety in new situations. To create the confidence to walk through the school doors, the kids and I draw on matching “tattoos,” and if there are difficult feelings throughout the day, we can look down and remember we have a strong team behind us!
Reducing after-school meltdowns
Being still, focused and (somewhat) quiet for a long school day requires a lot of energy for my kids, which makes after school prone to meltdowns. It’s imperative my kids get time to decompress. For 45 minutes after they get home, I don’t plan any activities or require anything of them. They eat a snack, play or watch TV, and then they are more relaxed and cooperative for whatever comes next.
Carolyn Randolph, mom of Jaxon, third grade, and Kennedy, second grade, at Nichols Hills Elementary School. Randolph is a stay-at-home mom.
Organizing school-related clutter
Hang hooks for backpacks and designate a basket for each child, perfect for storing shoes, instruments or gym equipment. I keep one file on hand near the “backpack station” to put papers that need to be returned to school. Combat excessive paper by taking pictures of your children’s artwork with your phone. Create an album in your photo reel for each child and trash the paper copies. At the end of the year you can send the pictures off to make a special school work scrapbook.
Emily Kongs, mom of Owen, first grade, Claire, kindergarten, both at Clegern Elementary School, and Madeleine, Hearts for Hearing 2-year-old class. Kongs is a speech-language pathologist in private practice.
Staying on top of after-school activities
Two words: Calendar everything! Cover your ears, techie friends … nothing beats a good refrigerator calendar. Once we get the schedule, I plug in every activity. With one glance, I can see who needs to be picked up and whether it’s a home-cooked meal or drive-thru night!
Alicia Curren-Moore, mom of Mason, seventh grade at John Rex Middle School, and Myles, fifth grade at John Rex Elementary School. Curren-Moore is director of development at OU Law.
Making mornings smoother
I go through bags as soon as the girls get home and sign forms that need to be returned so we’re not doing that in the mornings. Setting out clothes the night before has not been helpful for us because the girls inevitably decide they need one specific article of clothing, going on a hunt through the dryer, clean clothes and dirty clothes hampers. I now do one load of laundry every day and put the clean clothes on their beds so whatever they are looking for can be found quickly. I also get up before them so I can get dressed, have my coffee poured and be ready for any battles that come my way!
Sarah Blood, mom of Hannah, fifth grade, Emma, third grade, and Julia, first grade, at Bethany Earl Harris Elementary School. Blood is a stay-at-home mom.
Getting kids on a sleep schedule
Two weeks before school begins my kids go to bed 30 minutes earlier and the week before an hour earlier. I also wake them up earlier during these two weeks. When school starts, I’ve learned the hard way never to allow my kids to sleep 10 or even 5 minutes longer because it creates unnecessary stress for everyone as you frantically try to get them moving and ready for school. No one
likes to start their day feeling rushed!
Transitioning to a new school
Whether your kid is going to school for the first time or to a new school, I think it’s important to attend as many back-to-school events as possible to get to know other parents and faculty. Since I have a full-time job, I network with other moms (especially those very involved in the school) so they can pick my kids up if I’m running late or take photos of my kids during school activities when I can’t be present. I host play dates to show my appreciation for the moms who’ve helped me and to strengthen my kids’ friendships.
Elena Mora, mom of Alex, seventh grade at Alcott Middle School, and Olivia, fourth grade at McKinley Elementary School. Mora is an online consultant for Ideal Homes.
If you need help purchasing school supplies or would like to donate supplies to metro students, visit our list of organizations and events providing resources to local families.