Back to School Prep For Moms and Kids

By Natalie Jones

Bringing structure after summertime fun

I’m not sure there’s a single moment during the year where moms feel fully prepared, both physically and emotionally, but if you’re the mom that’s 100% on top of things, send me your number … STAT! Summer always blazes by, and before I know it, school is just around the corner. I could have all the planners, reminders, timers, etc. and still feel as if I’m falling behind. Does it always get done? Of course. Is it perfect? Far from it. If you feel like you’re hanging by a thread as we approach the upcoming school year, keep reading. Hopefully these pointers will help make the transition back to school a bit easier, and (maybe) less chaotic.

Let’s talk emotional preparedness first. I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor by trade, so this is #1 on my list. It’s one of the most important parts of yours and your children’s world that can make or break the return to school. Transitions are challenging even when we know what to expect. They’re made tougher when change is accompanied by unknown territory. So, how do you emotionally prep your child?

Cue a good night of rest. Lack of sleep will play into your child’s emotions. Two weeks prior to the first day of school, have your child(ren) start going to bed at their regular “school year” bedtime and waking at a time like what is necessary once school is in session. This will re-calibrate their sleep cycle and help you avoid grizzly bears those first few days (or weeks) of school. Next, make sure they’re eating well; what kids put into their bodies can greatly impact their mood. Start scaling back — or cutting out completely — the sugar and caffeine. It will help with their reactions, focus and emotions. Lastly, if you have a natural worrier, start talking through logistics, questions or concerns they have. If you have a child who dislikes school or dreads the social aspects, chat with them about some simple goals to set and how to implement positive self-talk. Your child’s perspective on school may surprise you, so be sure to create a safe space to process.

Let’s talk schedule. It’s always helpful for kids to have a consistent routine. After school, leading up to bedtime, is a prime opportunity to maintain consistency. Perhaps use a visual on the fridge or bulletin board somewhere. If possible, make your evening hours similar year-round.

When speaking of school routines, remind your younger elementary students of what their day was like the previous year; it should flow similarly. For older elementary kids, prep them to process switching classes between two teachers and learning to be more organized with homework. For middle schoolers, what a big transition — both with a bell schedule and rollercoaster hormones. Make sure they know the layout of the school and have a copy of their schedule ready to go. Have patience and grace with good ole highschoolers and their need for complete independence. Practice gentle reminders of what they need but give them freedom to figure it out and fail on their own.

Back to school brings stress for the whole family — moms are no exception. Which means the above tips apply to us too. Try setting a bedtime for yourself (and stick to it), opt for a fresh juice instead of an afternoon latte and get in the routine of packing lunches the night before to ensure you get out the door on time. Before you take care of other people, you have to take care of YOU, first. Cheers to another school year — you’ve got this.