IF you are the parent of a child who is about to venture forth into the hallowed halls of Primary education, or ‘Big School’ as every Irish mammy refers to it since the dawn of time; well, chances are you’ve probably been very active in your Google searches looking for tips and advice on how to ease your child, and yourself, into this next chapter.
As a result, you also have now managed to whip yourself into a mild panic!
I have two children currently in school and therefore have been around the block, over, under and through the block.
I’ve even reversed back over the block; more times than I care to count or my childrens’ ever patient teachers would like to also! I’m not so much a seasoned pro as I am battle worn.
Out of curiosity (and downright net-curtain twitching nosiness), I searched online for ‘Back to school advice’. As a result, I now fully understand the cause for parents to panic considering what my search yielded.
One of the first articles to pop up was entitled, ‘101 Back to school tips for kids and parents’.
No, you read that correctly, one hundred and one nuggets of wisdom.
Add to this the noise from social media where the flogging of lipsticks is replaced with uniforms and sticky name labels and it is clear why so many parents begin to feel not only the financial pinch (‘They told me we need all of the stuff or else little Formaldehyde won’t make it to college!’), but also a burgeoning flush of self-doubt.
The return to school is a double-edged sword; whilst a structured routine is welcomed by all as we near the close of the summer break, our time is no longer our own. We are now dictated to by the constraints of homework, after school activities etc.
Therefore, to quell your mounting stress levels, I have selected common threads which have appeared throughout all of these lengthy articles and debunked same…
‘Set your kids’ sleep schedule back to ‘School time’ two weeks before the first day of school:
At this point in the summer, my children are 70% skittles, 15% sweat and dodgy tan lines and 15% ‘Sleep is for the weak’.
You could keep that school bedtime routine going the length of the summer and you’d still have to crane lift them out of the bed on the first morning back. Fact.
Let your kids choose a planner, scheduling tool or reward chart they’re excited to use.
This works until approximately the age of five.
After that they are just laughing at you. They know that fella is still coming down the chimney on December 24.
Just do like the rest of us and buy an eyesore of a calendar and whack it in the kitchen. You’ll be grand.
Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
The only alarm my children hear is the timer on the oven. Or me shouting at them.
Arrange playdates with two or three of your kids’ friends to rebuild existing social ties.
Do NOT interfere with their friends.
Kids have a new best friend each week until they are of a certain age.
Similarly, they fall out with said friends quicker than a tsunami of Freshers exiting Coppers during Rag Week.
They also communicate in runny noses, fart noises and having no iota of personal space boundaries; you want no part of this.
Also, the word ‘playdate’ can get in the bin.
Include your kids in back-to-school shopping.
By leaving them at home.
Create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play and study.
Yeah, I’d need a team of trained professionals to pull that off.
Also, you will eat a lot of those aforementioned snacks in the car, saturated from the downpour you’ve just been caught in whilst waiting for your child to head into a lesson where they make their violin weep.
Have your kids pack their schoolbags/sports bag/make their lunches/dress themselves etc.
If you have any hope of making it to school before 1pm, you will let them do none of the above.
Designate an area as a put-away bin for anything out of place.
It will always end up being the kitchen table. You will see it cleared approx. once a year.
Make a weeks’ worth of sandwiches on Sunday and freeze them. Unthaw the night before.
Not if you want your child to ever eat one again you won’t. When all is said, the kids will be grand. We’ll all be grand.
Trust your gut, don’t search online for answers, speak to someone. We made it through the other side, so will our kids.