I have two feelings about back-to-school season:
YAY! The kids are back in school! See ya!
EEP! I am so not ready for that stress.
No matter how I feel, my darlings are definitely headed back next week, so there's that. These are a few things I've learned over the years that make this time of year easier.
Do a drive by.
Some parents schedule visits so their kids can check out school before it opens. When Max was a little nervous about starting high school last year, we drove to the school the week before it started, sat in the parking lot and talked about how his first week at school would go and stuff he was excited about (lunch topped his list). It calmed him down and got him excited, too.
Get the schedule ahead of time.
Email the school for your child's schedule so you can go over it with him. If your child takes a phone to school, snap a photo of the schedule for easy access.
Read books about school
Good ones: This School Year Will Be The Best by Kay Winters; Teachers Rock by Todd Parr; I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child (a Charlie and Lola book, one of my favorite children's series); First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg; My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil by Hanoch Piven (extra fun because it involves drawing); The Night before Preschool, The Night before Kindergarten and The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing; If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff; School Bus by Donald Crews; The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola; Lunch Money and Other Poems About School by Carol Diggory Shields; Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes by James Dean; and the classic Curious George's First Day of School.
Count down together.
Print out a calendar page and mark off the days to school, or use stickers, to prepare your child.
Get kids newly excited about old school supplies.
I get it—kids want fresh pencils and new backpacks for the start of the school year. Of course (and I am so going to sound like a mom here), there's nothing wrong with last year's stuff. I like to do a little repackaging: I'll get some new clip-ons, key chains and patches for backpacks, and a new pencil case for old-school pens and pencils. You can also ask friends if they'd be up for a backpack swap.
Hit school supply stores at off hours.
I do Staples runs as soon as the store opens; it's usually quiet-ish for the first couple of hours afterward, especially key for children with sensory issues. You can also find me sitting on the couch ordering stuff from Amazon's Back to School section at 12:35 a.m.
The custom notebooks I've given the kids over the years—with their names, with fire trucks, with emoticons—have been favorite BTS treats. You can find ones on VistaPrint, Shutterfly and of course, Etsy.
Create a little BTS ritual
Ever since Sabrina was a kid, I've left a silver friendship ball (similar to this one) hanging on her doorknob on the morning she returns to school. Inside, I put a little treat: a string bracelet, stickers or magnets for for her locker. She always beams when she opens it (before proceeding to freak out about making the bus on time). Hooking a shopping bag over the door works just fine, too.
Get kids to sleep earlier the days before school starts.
Everyone always tells you this, but it really is key. It will be a harsh awakening for everyone on the first day of school if your kids are still on their summer sleep deprivation schedule.
I can't wait to see all the kids' back-to-school pics!