Face the new school year head on

In my neighborhood school starts in a few short days. Some districts have already opened their doors, while others have another week or so before the bell starts marking time. This time of year is full of last minute shopping trips, new schedules to adopt, and a range of emotions for both parents and children. Get ready to face the school year head-on with the following tips.

Sane schedules are a must - Take a good look at everyone's schedule. Create a master calendar complete with school activities, practices, games, clubs and meetings. Families can become so overbooked that sleep becomes an issue. I know this first hand. Travel sports, homework and early morning club meetings can completely wipe out a week. It is important to carve out downtime.

Call a family meeting or simply use your executive power as a parent to whittle down responsibilities. Prioritize accordingly. Making hard choices now will pay off all year.

Be prepared - Take the time to set a routine in place. Encouraging organization from the start can limit the amount of time wasted looking for this or that throughout the house. Designate specific areas for school supplies and sports equipment. Stock up if possible on supplies while they are on sale. I suggest grabbing a few sheets of poster board while you are at it. You know they will need them sometime throughout the year!

Rethink chores - Assuming your child has specific jobs in the home, now is the time to reevaluate the assignments. The new schedule may call for different jobs such as unloading the dishwasher or taking care of animals early in the morning. Now that daily laundry is required due to football season, my son is now the go-to guy for whites and towels. Some parents may not go that far, but I like to delegate. Besides, even football players need to learn how to do laundry!

Factor in fun - Energy levels tend to wan after the initial excitement wears off. It could happen two weeks or two days into the new year. Have something up your sleeve for when it does. Go out to breakfast before school or plan something on the weekend.

Make it memorable - Take lots of pictures. Talk to your child about what is happening in their life. Not only does the school year go fast, but childhood itself will be over before you know it. It sounds cliché, but stay present, focus on your family and for goodness sake: smile!

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