Another Brick In The Wall

Another Brick In The Wall

Posted by Hallie S. on Aug 10th 2018

We are steam-rolling right through August, my peeper friends, and it has been hazy, hot and humid here in the Northeast. Unless you have the luxury of a pool or the benefit of being able to hit the beach and cool down, it’s been a bit toasty and I personally am looking forward to a little break in the weather and a cool down in the evening. That being said, no whining or complaining here as I fully remember how nasty and long and cold the winter was. So hooray for heat and humidity! And Fall, I am patiently awaiting…

Obviously with the rollout of August that means for many of us a major change is on the horizon, playing peek-a-boo and tantalizing us with thoughts of structure and studies and socializing. Yes, school is literally weeks away. Not kidding. And while some of us are jumping for joy, others of us are not so much. Regardless of whether you’re doing the Kiki dance in anticipation or you’re clinging on to your troll for dear life, school is going to happen whether you like it or not. I personally am midway between doing Kiki and being a stage 3 clinger.

There is some preparation that goes into getting them ready to go back and for getting ourselves ready for the changes in schedules. What are you doing to get ready? A couple of weeks seems like a long time but in all realty it really isn’t that much time. Don’t fret - that’s what I’m here for. I got your back, peepers. I have a list of tips, tricks, hints, a helpful little guide if you will that can help you start to prep your littles and yourself for the start of school. A little bit of planning and prep now can save you major headaches in a couple weeks.

5 Tips For Back To School

Purge, purge, purge.

If you don’t do this step than you really aren’t setting yourself up for maximum success. Even if you are a constant purger of closets, you accumulate stuff over the summer. Kids grow over the summer. Children’s tastes change, favorite colors and role models change, friends change, etc. All of this impacts what fits them, what they will and will not wear, etc.

Those of you with older children can typically trust them solo with this task. Mostly. I trusted my youngest with the task of purging his closet at 15 and then we went through it yesterday and did it mommy’s way. Could’ve probably clothed a third world country with what I pulled out of his closet. So worth going back in to see what they’ve kept and what they’ve chosen to throw at this age and be prepared to choose your battles. Their taste is not your taste.

And those with younger children, get them involved in the task. Throwing away that favorite t-shirt that is going to cause a meltdown every morning IS NOT WORTH IT. Set the rules ahead of time, let them know they can’t keep everything and make sure they know they have to try things on. Make a game out of it. I personally recommend a beverage or two of choice for sanity purposes but that’s just me.

Importance of purging

This sets the stage for what they need and hopefully prevents mom and pops from spending money on 6 pairs of jeans that are not needed because there are 12 pair up in the closet. Bring a pad of paper and a pen and make a list of their haves and their have not's, what is needed and what is wanted. For those with older children, I personally suggest a budget. Anything over the budget they pay for. Doesn’t make me super popular in my own house, that whole accountability, responsibility, adult-ing thing but at this stage in the game, my days of being popular are gone.  At least I still got my dogs. Purge, list, purchase.

Screen time, down time

This impacts almost every family I know, mine included. Insist on or encourage (age dependent) putting down the screen. Start setting limits on usage during the day, shutting it down at night and decreasing the screen time.

For the littles in our life, this can be not too difficult. Easy enough to have a simple conversation that it’s time to get ready to train our brains to learn and where we don’t bring our iPads and our xbox’s to school, let’s get ready to cut the cord a little. Decreasing their time incrementally by 15 minutes here can help them get accustomed to less time on their screens and more in a focused frame of mind. Books at night, no screens after a certain time, etc. preps them for earlier bed times and a more structured school time routine.

And the older children in our lives that are permanently attached to their phones - there isn’t a whole lot that can be done but I do feel there are some things. I will be encouraging my troll-ops to shut their phones down an hour before bed. Studies have shown that the blue light from electronics keeps our brains firing, makes our internal clocks think that we are not tired. This in turn impacts their sleep. An hour of reading before bed in lieu of being on their phones or laptops can help them alter their sleep habits enough and hopefully create a good habit for when they are away at school. Fingers crossed.

Importance of putting down the screen

Kids of all ages, grade school through college, mostly still learn by their eyes and ears. Reading, seeing, listening. I tend to tune out when I’m on my phone doing whatever and it is a completely different method of learning when you have to visually and audibly connect with whomever it is you’re learning from. Again, small steps now can make the intro back to the classroom less painful for them.

Nighty-night/Wakey wakey

Again, I think this one is so important for every student going back to school and vital for getting them on the right path to using their brains to gain knowledge. Start getting them to bed a tad bit earlier and waking them up at a reasonable time. 15-30 minutes incrementally in both directions every three days can slowly introduce them to earlier and more school oriented bed times and getting accustomed to waking up at the ungodly hour they call getting ready for school.

Middle schoolers and high schoolers often have to get up around the 5:30-6:00 am mark in order to shower, dress, eat and pack things up for school. And then catch the bus or be driven or drive themselves. Trust me it will save you your voice if they are a little more acclimated now to getting up before 9:00 am then if they cold turkey it on day one of school. Those of the college age, you know your schedule. It’s your responsibility to start making yourself accountable to what your college schedule is going to be.

For the tinies, this is such an essential step in my eyes and one that no parent should overlook. The relaxed and casual bedtimes of the summer should start to become more structured, bedtime routines back to being implemented. Getting them up in the morning a little earlier, having outfits ready and breakfast eaten at the table instead of in front of the TV, all those small steps now can be slowly infiltrated into their schedules so that when that first week of school hits, they are good to go.

Importance of bed times and wake times

Honestly, this is sanity inducing for parents. I have gone through countless years of making threats about taking away phones, leaving without them if they don’t get out of bed, etc. It’s great for the kids to get their bodies and their psyche ready for school by having them go to bed and wake up at more appropriate times. Better for their health and well-being by getting the necessary amount of rest. But y’all, it is so important for us as well. I hate starting my day or ending my day with being irritated and raising my voice to try and get them out of bed or to bed. So for us as much as them, start now.

Food Prep/Meal Plan/Stock Up

Our schedules change considerably when the kids go back to school. For some the change is a little more drastic then others but it is a change no matter what. We are a little more rushed and don’t have the time for lazy meals and unplanned events. Start thinking meal planning now. Think about food prep. Make some lists of what the family likes for dinners and lunches and start stocking up on snacks and necessities ahead of time so that your wallet doesn’t blow up from overuse the day before school starts.

I miss having little tiny trolls because I always liked snacks. I liked buying what they liked, tucking it away in their lunch boxes, loved that the smallest pack of fruit snacks could delight them to no end. Get your trollie trolls involved in choosing snacks that they love, what they want for sammiches, juice boxes, etc. My own children’s tastes changed from year to year and where one year it was peanut butter and jelly the next year it was only salami and cheese. Things that you go through in volume like snacks and juice boxes are easy to store and buying some here or there is fiscally responsible to your budget.

Having high school and college age children I don’t pack lunches. Boo. But I do have to buy an endless supply of toiletries, protein cookies, protein powder, etc. And that stuff is not cheap. My trolls know exactly what they want, the smell, the flavor, blah blah blah and getting away with the store brand is not going to happen. And it makes no sense for them to take what they have here at home and bring it to school because then they just have to bring it back with them when they come home for the weekend. I try to peck away at it as I can, hold them responsible to buy some of it themselves. But my debit card is currently gasping for a break in action.

Importance of prepping, planning, stocking

Same o, same o - a little bit of pre-planning now saves you a ton of money and headache down the road. When I take the time to plan my meals ahead of time, do my food prep, freeze, etc. I easily save $100-$150 off my grocery bill. Yes, it means one day of making a mess of my kitchen but I’ve come to enjoy the chaos. And it also makes our week run a little smoother when I already know and they already know what is for dinner and what to expect. And, certainly stocking up on necessities a little bit at a time in advance may save you loads of money but the expense stretched out over time is a little easier to stomach than one big punch in the gut.

Get a Family Calendar

Most every family I know does something. Sports, band, dance, etc. And once September hits, so do all of the games and the practices and the commitments. A family calendar helps keep everyone accountable to what the family has scheduled, what each individual has in the upcoming week and shows you where there is an opportunity for downtime and family time. It’s also a great tool for keeping the adults in the house on the same page and helps to eliminate - “You never told me that!”

This is a mainstay in our house. We have trainings and games and concerts and commitments the entire month of August and September and October are even worse. For high school and college age students, calendars help them to ‘see’ the future and take the proper steps to what it means to plan ahead. If it’s on their calendar and they missed it - they are accountable and responsible for their lack of accountability. Do it, use it, help them adult by making them accountable to their own activities.

For the tiny taters, this is a great step in teaching them about looking at a calendar and teaching them about getting themselves ready to go. There are so many interactive calendars that can be color coded and have stickers that are easy for children to connect with (i.e. a soccer ball sticker on the calendar, highlighted in purple for your daughter, at 6:00 pm). It teaches them to stay on task and plan ahead and also shows parents or caregivers when they are going to have to divide and conquer.

Importance of seeing it in writing

Our lives are beyond hectic and busy when school is here. Appointments, events, practices, parties, etc. impact our time away from jobs and school. If you get accustomed to going to one place to write it down, to see what’s going on, you decrease your chances of forgetting something. That’s great that you use an app on your phone but if you don’t translate that to some sort of visual for you and the family, often times lines get crossed and miscommunication happens and tempers flare. Put something up for the family to see and keep them accountable to what they have going on in their own lives.

Too Cool for School

Well, this is going to be a mighty interesting year for me and my troll trio. I have one going back to college and let’s suffice to say that it is time for her to go and be back on her own. Girl trollie is locked, loaded and ready to go for the most part and she has been for about three weeks. She’s doing all she can to figure out her independence yet comes back to those moments of wanting dependence, especially when it impacts HER pocketbook. I am hopeful that she attacks school with the same ferocity and accountability that she did her freshman year and that she keeps her health and her academics on track by getting enough rest to endure the rigors and responsibility of being on your own as a college student. And I am beyond hopeful that she leaves for New Hampshire with a bounce in her step and excitement for what the year holds for her independently. And I pray that she knows that no matter the struggles and heartache we both endured this summer, that even in the dark there is light. And always love. And the security of knowing I will ALWAYS be here for her when she needs me. No matter what.

The boys are a little bit of a slower process and where I have one purged and bought for and prepped, the senior boy troll is taking a more laid back approach to getting ready for school. (Insert eye roll) Will be the finishing year for one and a new beginning for the second and both are more than ready. I have been stocking up on their supplies for school, their game schedules are on the calendar and I’m going to encourage them to start getting on a more school friendly schedule of going to bed and getting up.

And I am ready. Things have a way of playing out that get you moving in the right direction and it’s a time of new schedules and a new routine for my main squeeze and I. My grocery bill should plummet and whereas my wallet will be happy, I will miss the nurturing aspect that comes with feeding a family of five. Our calendar is bursting and Rob and I will continue to dance the dance of dividing and conquering and will make every attempt to be there for everything that we can. And learn about our schedule and our routine as a married couple with no children at home. And I look forward to reconnecting and discovering that part of the journey with him.

Put in some time now. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, a cold brew or whatever your poison may be and put in some thought about what lies ahead in a couple of short weeks. Make a plan for how you’re going to tackle it and give yourself the luxury - if you can - of not doing it in a matter of days but more so over the course of the next few weeks. Like it or not, school is around the corner and getting your act together now, loosening the grips of summer just a tad bit at a time can save you an immense amount of heartache, headache and moola down the road. Get crackin!