There is no denying that parents of schoolkids have a lot on their plates. In between taking care of all the responsibilities of working and running a house, you’ve also got to make sure that your child is ready for school, doing their homework, participating in nurturing after-school activities. And that’s just listing a few of the things you’ve planned for as a school parent. So if you’re struggling in a few areas, we’re here to tell you that you’re not alone and we’re here to help. Sail through the rest of the school year with these mom-approved school tips.
Let us know how you handle these situations at home. We’re all ears for different techniques.
Your kids have had a long break from school and have forgotten about the normal routine
Get yourself and the family mentally ready before the school bell rings. Prepare the kids by getting out all the educational bedtime storybooks, watching learning-based cartoons, and talking to them about how things will change now that school has started again. Plus, if you highlight all the fun things about school (playing with friends every day, lunchtime snacks, getting to attend their favourite extramural, etc), they might just take on getting ready for school by themselves.
School mornings are always a mad scramble trying to get the kids out the door
It might seem like an impossible task on most days of the week, but prepping in the evenings can save you a lot of time in the mornings. Evening prep includes chores like packing away homework and having schoolbags ready to go at the door, having tomorrow’s uniform or outfit laid out (and change of clothes or togs packed), putting packed lunches in the fridge so you can grab and go in the morning.
We know you’re tired after a long day at work and completing all the other errands that come along with being a parent, but introducing evening prep as an everyday habit will make your life (especially the crazy mornings) a lot smoother, especially if you try to get the kids involved. Amanda Rogaly, founder of leading parenting portal BabyYumYum, says, ‘Remember, it’s never too early to get kids involved in helping to get ready. It’s empowering and builds confidence in their independence and abilities. Safe, age-appropriate tasks like packing their school bag at night for the next day, setting out clean clothes and putting away worn clothes in the laundry basket become ingrained habits and are internalised as behaviour.’
It always feels like school events or projects pop up out of nowhere
This is probably one of the tips that if done correctly, can make the school year less stressful. After receiving the cultural, sports and term plans from the school, work on putting realistic routines and schedules in place that everyone can adhere to. Put it all into a calendar you refer to regularly and make sure it’s visible to everyone in the house.
It’s also a good idea to schedule smaller to-do steps to make the end goal easier to attain. For example, if your child has a geography project due in three weeks, schedule a few slots throughout the weeks as project time – slot one is when you’d plan and buy supplies; slot two would be set aside for tackling the most difficult parts of the project, etc…
Amanda also has a tip for staying on top of things and the secret lies with your buzzing smartphone: ‘Keeping all your To-Do notes on your phone means everything’s in one central, accessible place – from shopping lists to appointments to kids’ arrangements, birthdays, etc. It’s the perfect way to appear like supermom regardless of how you may be otherwise be feeling on the inside.’
Screens are dominating your household and your little one’s time
Most kids get accustomed to watching TV and playing on their devices for longer periods of time over weekends or holidays. Forcing them to go cold turkey can have unfavourable consequences (for example, they can quickly turn into nagging, sulky little people). Slowly introduce stricter time limits to their screen time and encourage more outdoor activities that will stimulate physical activity.
Setting screen time slots and scheduling it into the daily routine will also give them something to look forward and can be used as a neat little reward system in the evenings. 30 minutes screen time after 5pm if homework is done, bags are packed and the bedroom is clean.
Your kid struggles to sit down with their homework
Provide a comfortable space for your children to get into the zone of doing their homework when they get home. Make it exclusive to them by getting a set of cool stationery, an appropriately sized desk and chair, and by putting up their school art on the walls to spark creativity and enthusiasm. Keep a clock nearby so they can limit the time they spend on their homework – all work and no play can be a recipe for an unhappy little child.
You wish you had more time in the week to prep and plan properly
Use your weekends wisely for lunchbox shops and food prepping for the week ahead. Don’t leave it for the week as you’ll find yourself frustrated and short of time. Work on a two or three-week lunch plan and write out your shopping list based on the lunch and snack ideas you’ve chosen. It’ll take you half the time to shop if you’re sticking to a list.
Weekend prep also includes buying the odds and ends (think school project supplies, extramural equipment, tissues, hair ties etc) your child might need in the upcoming week. And of course, use what’s left of your free time to spend some quality time with your family.
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Your child is struggling to balance school, homework and extramural activities
We all want well-rounded kids and this can often make us dangerously eager to sign them up for every extramural activity the school has to offer. But, take a step back and think about what you’d want your child’s school day to look like, and if your ideal school day is causing your kid to stress, overburdening them with bags or cutting into their homework time.
Choose and sign them up for activities that you think will be beneficial for them but that will also allow them to have time to focus on what’s important. Make sure the after-school activities are not consecutive days of the week to allow them to have time to relax, too. If you are able to sign them up for aftercare, it’ll probably be the best thing you can do to help yourself – some of the aftercare facilities offer homework assistance and a meal.
You’re overwhelmed with documents that need to be signed
Every term might bring with it permission slips, sick notes, sign up forms for difficult extramural, bake sale rosters and more. So don’t let the unsigned and incomplete forms pile up at home – dedicate time after the kids are in bed to read, complete and sign everything brought home that day before placing it back into your child’s bag. The fewer things to worry about, the smoother the ride will be to the end of the term.
You feel like you’re doing everything around the home
Get your kids to take ownership of their duties during the week by giving them chores and responsibilities. Let them pack their schoolbags and extramural equipment the night before, be involved in planning their lunchbox meals and get them to do homework at a certain time of the day (if they are not signed up at aftercare). Also, stress the importance of mindfulness at school especially with packing away their belongings in a safe place to avoid it getting lost or stolen.
Your kid is getting sick more than usual since school started
Teach your kids (especially little ones new to schooling) to continue good hygiene practices at school. Washing hands when using the bathroom or before eating something is second nature (hopefully) to adults, but kids usually need to be reminded, especially if they’re preoccupied with their thoughts and friends. This small act of cleanliness can save you a trip to the doctor and help prevent spreading germs from school to home. Also, put hand sanitizer in their schoolbags for when they can’t get to the bathroom for a quick hand wash.