The time-saving organizational hacks in this post were featured in a segment on Daytime, which airs in 200 markets across the country. ABC Action News in Tampa also adapted some of these tips for a pair of back-to-school segments about saving money and stress-free afternoons. Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch all 3 videos!
My oldest is entering kindergarten soon, and I have tons of questions, so I turned to you guys for help! Here are the top things incoming kindergarten moms need to know.
- Start the routine early. There’s nothing worse than a stressful first day of school. Ease everyone’s anxiety and start your morning routine a week ahead of time, reader Christine K. suggested. They will be ready, and so will you!
- Ask your big questions at the open house. Teachers are maxed out on the first day, so if you have any big questions, or just want a few minutes to say hello, make sure to do it at the open house, before the first day of school.
- Keep it snappy! Yes, the first day will probably be sad, mostly for you. Don’t make it worse by dragging out your goodbye. “Don’t make the process long. They will be fine! And probably better than us moms!” said Claudia J. Let them have fun, and keep things light!
- Pack their lunch. Especially if you have a slow eater, packing your kindergartener’s lunch for the first few weeks is key. “Lunch lines seem intimidating to little ones,” said reader Melissa R. Sometimes half of lunch time can be spent in the lunch line, so help your student avoid the stress and pack their lunch. Andria M. swears by Yum Boxes, which are like Bento Boxes, and says she buys them year after year.
- They will be exhausted. “One thing I didn’t realize was how tired they are those first few weeks of adjusting to a full day of school. I kept the after-school activities to a minimum the first couple weeks until we were in the swing of things,” reader Lauren F. shared. Be prepared for them to fall asleep at the dinner table, and let them get their rest! Another tip: each week, everyone is exhausted by Thursday. Make that your no-activities evening!
- Find the magic homework hour. This is different for every family, but most readers said that the best for homework is directly after school, and after a quick after-school snack and short play time. “Do not wait until after dinner! They are tired, and so are you!” said Linda R. Also, make sure you’re stocked up with the right homework supplies at home, including pencils, pencil sharpener and some pink erasers. (This may seem obvious, but I just realized I have none of these and had to buy them!) Rebecca S. also swears by these sheets of lined paper with a blank space at the top for kindergarteners.
- Invest in a high-quality backpack. Apparently, the cheaper backpacks end up getting tossed. Multiple readers recommended splurging on a Pottery Barn or Land’s End backpack. “They are good quality, and they last!” said Janet B. Added bonus: if they match their lunchbox, they are easier to find!
- Communicate with the teacher. “Even though it’s so hard, getting out of the car at pick-up makes a big difference. You get to see the teacher and other moms, and that’s usually when I find out about something important I missed because I threw that one paper away,” Lauren F. shared with a chuckle. If you’re not able to make it to pick-up, email teachers with questions and compliments. They can respond on their schedule, and they appreciate involved parents.
- Require your kids to bring their stuff inside after school. “It’s so annoying to have to go back into the car to grab everything,” said Sara K. “Sometimes, I had to make more than 1 trip, just so that I could clean out backpacks and lunch boxes.” Keep things streamlined by making the kids do it themselves! Beth R. also keeps a cubby in the garage with shoes and backpacks, and she has a hook for each child. “I also bought a zillion of the exact same sock, and the sock drama went away,” she shared. Genius!
- Utilize the car ride home to hear about their day. I saved this tip for last because it is my very favorite! Talk to your kids about their day on the ride home. “They are strapped in. They can’t go anywhere, so it’s best place to ask details of the day,” Claudia J. said. “It is amazing how much you learn from their day in that 10-minute car ride. Keep that routine, and your kid will continue talking and sharing with you. My son is now 17 and still talks about his day with us!” Keep the electronics off, don’t look at your phone and enjoy this magical time to engage with your kids!
What are your favorite tips? Do you have any to add? Share them in the comments, or on the Facebook page!
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