The start of the new school year is upon us, and it can be equally exciting and overwhelming for both parents and kids alike. By making the choice to enter this busy season with intentionality and purpose, you take back control—instead of letting the crazy calendar rule you, you will be the one in charge of it.
We encourage you to take a deep breath and join us in strategically avoiding these common mistakes at the start of the school year:
Mistake #1: Not writing down important dates up-front
We often assume we’ll have no problem remembering something important, or we tell ourselves we’ll just write it down later. Our advice? Take the time now to jot it down! Get ahold of your school’s calendar and your parent-teacher association schedule (as well as any other parent/student events you already know will be coming down the pipeline). Record all of these dates, holidays, and school breaks in your planner before the school year begins. If your planner ends in December, keep next year’s dates in your electronic calendar or on a notes page to transfer into next year’s planner later.
Mistake #2: Procrastinating on gathering supplies
We all know the feeling of moving a task to the next day (and the next!), but it’s an absolute necessity to stop and take inventory of what you have and what you need to start the school year off right. Here’s a quick checklist of items to consider:
- reusable containers
- personalized labels
- water bottle
- school supplies
- a weekly planner or monthly calendar
- classroom supply donations
- clothing and shoes (or uniform)
- laptop or iPad, protective case, and extra chargers (for older children)
- books or reading materials
Get in touch with your school or your child’s teacher for specific supply requirements. Turn your needs into to-dos and tackle them well in advance of the big day.
Mistake #3: Overcommitting to volunteer roles
At the beginning of the school year, everyone is clamoring with excitement. This time is chock-full of new experiences for the kids and offers a fresh start for you and the school staff. Ways to get involved and lend a helping hand will be presenting themselves left and right! Volunteering can be extremely rewarding, and using your time and strengths in this way truly helps make your school a better place. It’s also a fantastic way to meet and work with fellow parents to support a common cause.
From leadership positions and committee roles to helping in the classroom and chaperoning field trips, your calendar can fill up very quickly—depending on how much you take on! It’s quite easy to say yes and it can feel so hard to say no. But when you mix these potential new tasks with your personal goals, family needs, work commitments, and much more, there may not be enough hours in the day!
Think through your commitments up-front, before you say yes. Take on only what you know you can handle. Here’s why: Can you guess the first place you’re going to snap when you take on too much? It’s going to happen at home, with those closest to you. When you’re overcommitted, being present (and pleasant!) with your family is likely to suffer.
We are huge fans of school volunteering, but if you need to say no to something now, remember that you can always jump in later or add extra opportunities when possible! Know your schedule, prioritize, and set boundaries.
Mistake #4: Not outlining expectations, guidelines, and schedules for your children
As your kids get older, it’s important to let them know what’s expected. For example, do you want them to fill their own water bottle or are you going to do it? That question may seem overly trivial, but there are probably 27 more tasks just like that one, all to be accomplished in the early morning hours. Bringing some order to the chaos will save you a daily headache in the long run!
As children are getting acclimated to the new schedule, writing tasks down will be helpful. We recommend having a clear morning routine and afternoon routine. Perhaps create a checklist or a reward chart to ensure nothing is forgotten.
At the beginning of the week, let your children know what’s coming up. What time do we need to leave the house each morning? What days do we have soccer practice? If your child has a school planner or even a wall calendar, make some notes so they can anticipate the upcoming activities.
Mistake #5: Procrastinating on grocery shopping and forgetting to meal plan
Be efficient in this area to save time, stress, money, and unhealthy choices throughout your week. Consider a set day (or two) per week for grocery shopping. Don’t just head out the door though! Plan your dinners, take a quick inventory of ingredients on hand, and put the rest on your grocery list. Think through what you need for breakfast, packed lunches, and snacks. Sunday afternoon or Monday morning is an excellent time to decide on your meals and stock your shelves.
If you need a refresher on meal planning and how to actively save money at the grocery store, take a look back at this post.
Mistake #6: Not planning your days
Time for school! You’ll drop off your little ones in the morning—and before you know it—it’s time to pick them up! How can that be? Where’d the time go? How did I not get more done?
We can’t add hours to your day, but we hope to inspire you to get organized and live intentionally. We recommend Sunday planning sessions to prepare for the week to come. Then, as each day rolls around, you have a choice: you can either allow your day to happen to you or you can choose to design your day! Each morning (or better yet, the night prior), take a few minutes to focus on your schedule and your to-dos in your Day Designer. Align your tasks alongside your schedule and add any necessary notes. Our daily planning page is a proven tool for productive days! If you haven’t already, try it for FREE here.