There’s lots of information and blogs out there on getting your kids ready for school covering independence on things like dressing themselves. And how to deal with it emotionally. Here is what I have learnt from the past five years – my seven tips to get organised this term.
Because…I was woefully underprepared for what it meant for me. And…the to-do list!
Because wow. School admin – is unreal!
As I prepare and organise uniform for back to school. For the 5th time! (5th year at school?! It’s fine. I’m not crying. Sniff.) I thought I would share some of the tips and strategies I’ve developed to help me manage and not get overwhelmed. If you have kids making the big step to big school or you have promised yourself to get more organised this term check them out and let me know what you think. And please share yours for me to try.
1. Organise all the things. Once.
So its one thing to do not five or six.
Pick a time in the week that makes the most sense to pack all the bags for the next 7 days. Could be Sunday or could be Wednesday, I usually work it out with book bag day. Whatever makes sense with yours and their weekly plans. Pack all the school and after-school activity bags like swimming, gymnastics or football for the next 7 days. Then leave them in the cupboard to be picked up on the day they are need. This way I’m not running around every day looking for swimming costumes or shin pads. Then it’s done once not multiple times.
Oh and anything that fall outside of the ideal day, like a book bag because they still need to read it a few more times, leave the bag with the others and pop the book in the night before. Not forgetting to fill in the reading log.
2. Put it all in your phone calendar. Every. Last. Thing.
It really should be your phone calendar because you always have it and you can set reminders.
When I receive an email or notification from the school I add it when I read it. If I leave it till later, then guess what. I forget.
My calendar is full of the kids school requirements. What day their reading book bag needs to be picked up, and returned. When homework is due. When we need to decide their food choices for school lunch. Or if they’ve chosen to have a packed lunch for a particular day. When bookings for after school clubs opens. When they need to bring in something for a topic or for PTA fundraising. What day PE is.
It goes on…..What day the Christmas Play or Class Assembly is. When the booking system opens to book their Learning Conversations (formerly known as Parents Evening). When are the holidays and end-of-term times. Birthday Parties. Not forgetting myself to set a reminder to buy a gift a week before.
Its a long list right…and I’ve not added them all.
Add attachments, like the letter from the school with the details or the invite, or your own notes to your calendar entry to save the info with the reminder.
If they repeat every week they go in every week. So when I am looking through my calendar to plan my week or remember what I need to do that day, with my morning coffee I see it and don’t have to rely on remembering.
Use the shared calendar functionality to share the calendar with your partner. Now you both have it and you both know.
3. Label it all. With the biggest brightest name stickers.
The school lost property is a box of doom. My kids go to a three form entry school – that’s 630 children – all wearing the same clothes!! So imagine a box filled with hundreds of the same cardigans and jumpers, all in the same colour.
I have found bright colourful stickers stand out in a lost property box.
I use these httpss://www.petit-fernand.co.uk/adhesive-clothing-labels and find the clothing labels stick to water bottles, bags and lunch boxes really well too. So no need to buy separate ones. Or spend time ironing them on. And yes they really do stay stuck after washing. I also buy shoe stickers which go on the heel area inside.
I don’t write or stick on the washing instructions label, which is hidden inside because you’ll have to check inside each item to find your child’s. Put it on the one in the collar.
And a bonus tip – listen to your kids. If they tell me it’s too warm for them to take their cardigan or coat, and with my own quick sense check on whether it’s appropriate with that day’s weather, then they don’t. You could stick it in their bag if you want them to have it just in case. As I have found, it will be left abandoned in the playground. And guess what that means – box of doom!
4. Invest in five uniforms.
If you can buy a uniform per day. Especially of the items that will or can get grubby every day – white polo shirts!! That way you don’t have to do washing mid-week and have the inevitable panic at 10pm when you realise you’ve forgotten to put the washing on.
Then put them away in the cupboard in the order they need them. One good thing to come out of Covid is wearing PE kit to school on PE days. No more getting changed at school for PE. It’s a game changer for lost property! But it does mean they have to remember what clothes to put on each morning. So I put my kid’s t-shirts in the cupboard in the order they need them.
5. Stains – ‘let it go, let it go’.
It’s likely if your child is starting Reception or in Year 1 they will use all sorts of materials for mark making and at some point will probably start using mini whiteboards with markers for handwriting – which will mean stains.
Black marker pen used by a 4 year in a white polo – genius! I know you may be thinking that’s crazy, why would they do that? It was explained to me that because its a smooth surface it makes the flow of movement easier, which develops muscle memory, which in turns aid with handwriting.
And then there is the painting and the grass stains.
I don’t have any magic stain remover tips, I gave up on those. Expect one which I am yet to try, and have lots of (thanks Covid), is that anti bac gel works on whiteboard marker. If you try it and it works please let me know.
Unless they are really terrible I let them go and think of them as a sign of good times had!
6. Put yourself first – with your own morning routine.
This took me a four years to action. But it’s another game changer. For me now during term time I get up at 6 am, and the kids won’t be awake till 7:30 am.
That hour and a half is bliss.
The house is quiet. I do my exercise, plan my day, eat breakfast and get myself ready. Bliss!
Meaning when the kids are up I can focus on them and help them get ready. As they get older they need less physical help getting the items they need but they are constantly distracted or dilly-dallying. Or trying to carry each other which is a current favourite thing.
For too long I tried to get myself ready at the same time as they were getting ready. Oh man the rushing, subsequent stress and worry about being late was unreal. And the nagging! Even I hated the me I became in the mornings.
7. Change the settings on your Do Not Disturb.
Add the school phone number to your contacts, then change the settings for Do Not Disturb to allow notifications and calls from that number to still come through. So that when you are using the Do Not Disturb function the school’s call will still come through. That way you don’t need to worry about missing an important call, usually from the school nurse, when you have Do Not Disturb on and are trying to concentrate.
So there you have it my seven tips to get organised this term
Hope you find this useful. I am always on the look out for other tips and tricks to make life easier. So if you have any tricks you do please share then so I can try them out.