Only two more weeks until school starts! I am excited for our kids to have a fresh start, renewed friendships, and new experiences. But honestly, I dread being tied to a schedule, the afternoons spent in the car juggling activities, the tears from homework (which is harder than it used to be), and the struggle of having to plan and make dinner on time every night.
Then there’s the fact that going back to school means dealing with “Rachel the Room Mom,” a compulsive volunteer who is picture perfect and always remembers to put notes in her son’s eco-friendly lunch box full of healthy choices with no high fructose corn syrup.
I can’t help you with homework. but after more than a dozen back to school seasons in our home, I’ve got a few tips to help you get organized and learn to handle the “Rachels” of the world.
1. Use a wall calendar. The single most valuable tool you can have to help both you and your family know where everyone needs to go.
2. Carry a master calendar with you everywhere you go. You can choose digital or paper, it matters not, but the key is to have it on hand at all times so before you commit to anything, you can check the calendar to see if there is time to give away.
3. Get a meal plan. Include breakfast and lunch, then bring you’re A-game for dinner by using a service such as eMealz that provides menus and shopping lists leaving you to worry about – well – basically nothing.
4. Make a DIY school organizer. Handling the avalanche of paper that comes home every day is the pits. While it’s important to see your child’s work, throw out worksheets and scribbles and hold onto actual writing samples or artwork for display. Then place what’s left either in an artwork catcher or a school organizer.
5. Get plugged into your school. Bookmark the website, get on the principal’s email and call update list, and yes, you can even follow many secondary schools and school districts on Twitter now. The point is to stay connected wherever you have the opportunity to interact. You’ll be in the know real time and that’s always a good thing when it comes to your kids.
6. Get a calling card. In pre-school you can use them for play dates. For big kid school, they’re the perfect way to stay in touch with friends and teachers.
7. Keep an open mind. Remember Rachel? Chances are she’d give her right arm to help anyone in need so step back and recognize that without volunteers, the effectiveness of our schools would be greatly compromised. Enjoy her for her over-organized self and offer to assist in any way that fits. Invite her to coffee someday, I bet she is full of pleasant surprises.
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