Getting back into the groove of fall can be a stressful process. School is back in session, and with younger kids, consistency is key. Settle into a schedule that fits your child’s needs and provides fulfillment to your everyday life, especially when you live in a big, bustling place like New York City. For seasoned parents, going back to school gets easier every year, here’s how.
Set Your Schedule
Ease your kids into the shock of going back to school by starting earlier bedtimes and wake up times a few weeks before school even starts. Be sure they are getting 8 to 10 hours each night because lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of behavioral issues in the classroom. Figure out which after school programs your kids are interested in as soon as possible. Then you can plan the rest of your weekly schedule accordingly. Signing up ahead of time also spares you from any last-minute stress.
Establishing a homework routine is important too. Set up a distraction-free homework station so your kids have a study space that never leaves. If your teacher gives a wide variety of assignments, let your child pick out a planner to keep track of what’s been done easily. You can write their assignments, extracurricular activities and playdates in the planner to start teaching time management from a young age. Reference the hot lunch schedule each month to determine which days you’ll be packing lunches. You can note these days in your child’s planner to eliminate any confusion. You should check the school website for other announcements that may impact your schedule.
Pack Lunches Like a Pro
The first week of school I carefully plan lunches for my kids, but by the end of the year I’m tempted to buy lunchables. Finding an efficient lunch-packing system is the only way to keep it original all year. You should always buy in bulk when possible. Prepare in bulk too. If you can chop, peel or wrap enough for a few days, do it. Keep your pantry organized because the minutes you spend searching for supplies every day add up. Kids will go through different phases of favorite foods, and they will inevitably be envious of their classmates lunches. If those foods aren’t healthy enough, or are too expensive, make your own version of them. Like this lunchable-inspired build your own pizza.
Presentation is key when it comes to picky eaters. If possible, mini-size it. I can’t explain why, but kids are more likely to eat a cutie than a full-sized orange. Try using Hawaiian rolls to make mini sandwiches. You can make a week’s worth and keep them in the fridge for quick snacks. Lunches made with bright colors look more appetizing to little ones. You can also cut cheeses and sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters to liven things up.
Reinvent the basics and reuse leftovers. There are at least 13 different ways to make a lunch using tortillas, you just have to be creative. Make the food as convenient to eat as you can. Peel the orange, slice the apple, cut the sandwich, etc. Biting into an apple sounds easier than slicing it to you, but to your kid that might be a deal breaker.
Secure a Safe Ride
Getting to school can be hectic when you live in the city. To make matters worse, class starts during rush hour and NYC is famous for its aggressive drivers. Carpooling is a great idea, but not always a convenient option. Whatever you decide, set it up ahead of time. You should arrange a back-up ride too. Dead battery, missed the bus, overslept…with a back-up ride it shouldn’t matter.
Regardless of how you get to school, buckle your kids in with the safest booster seat. At first glance, I was surprised that such a small seat would be my safest option. After I researched the engineering behind the mifold, it made sense. Normal carseats bring your kid up to adult height. The mifold lowers the seat belt to lay across your child’s shoulder and hip bones, away from the face and stomach. Folded up your mifold will fit in the glovebox, seatback pocket or even your purse. A perfect invention for traveling, and for the ubering population. Kids love it too. Say goodbye to the social pressure of feeling childish in a big, bulky carseat.
Connect with Classmates
Some kids get nervous to go back to school. Help minimize this anxiety before the first day by arranging a few playdates with members of their new class. Networking with other parents may help you out in the long run too. Aside from carpooling, there are plenty of other ways parents can team up. Youth sporting events are a great way to get involved in your community with other parents and families, and always help to keep kids active during the week.
When school is back in session life gets busy quick. Remember to block out family time every day. Whether it’s dinner, craft time, a walk with the dog or some other family tradition. This will give your kids a chance to recap the day, and to discuss what’s in store for tomorrow. Look for ways to break out of your routine every now and then with a weekend family trip. Keeping an even keel and a fresh, positive attitude when parenting in the busiest city in the United States will ensure you can fulfill every aspect of you and your family’s lives outside of work and school. It’s all about balance!